March 24, 2023
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Life & Culture

Review: Third ‘Ant-Man’ film shrinks its potential

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Marvel Studios

During the last two years, Marvel Studios has released nearly triple the amount of projects that they put out between 2018 and 2019. It has never been more clear than in “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” that the studio has sacrificed quality for quantity.

“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” sees the titular Marvel heroes along with the rest of the ant family getting trapped inside the Quantum Realm where they cross paths with the menacing Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) in their pursuit of escape.

To say “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is a mixed bag is putting it lightly. It is easily one of Marvel’s most inconsistent films ever. Tonally, it is often unable to decide whether it wants to be as funny and lighthearted as the two previous “Ant-Man” movies or as serious as the important Avengers-level epic it was billed as in its marketing campaign. This is mostly thanks to its middling screenplay written by Jeff Loveness, who is most known for working on “Rick and Morty” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

When the film deliberately tries to be humorous, it succeeds more often than it fails. There are multiple sequences that are on par with some of Marvel’s best comedic gags, like a sequence that sees Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) interacting with an endless amount of versions of himself. However, there are also moments that are laughably bad, like whenever the character M.O.D.O.K. (Corey Stoll) appears on the screen. M.O.D.O.K. will often make viewers question whether they are laughing at how poorly he looks from a visual effects standpoint or at how terribly his character is written.

What Loveness misses in the consistency of tone, he often makes up for in charm and strong character work outside of M.O.D.O.K. Although “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is notably missing some of the franchise’s most charming and hilarious supporting characters, like Luis (Michael Peña), the relationship between Scott and his daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) successfully fills some of the voids that were left by their absences. Although the circumstances surrounding Newton’s portrayal of Cassie are a bit controversial among fans, she does very well in the role. The father-daughter relationship between Cassie and Scott is the heart of the film just as it was in the previous two. The development of Cassie’s character and her having to grow up without Scott, which was explored briefly in “Avengers: Endgame,” only strengthened their relationship. Rudd and Newton put their all into these characters and give the audience something to root for.

Nevertheless, the clear standout is Majors, who at times carries “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” on his back through a formidable performance. The film succeeds in its main goal of introducing Kang the Conqueror as the next major Avengers villain. Thanks entirely to Majors, by the film’s end, audiences recognize that Kang is not someone to be taken lightly and should be feared in the future.

Unfortunately, the same praise cannot be given to the rest of the cast, which includes wooden performances from Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). In a world where Angela Bassett has been nominated for best supporting actress at the 95th Academy Awards for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” the passionless work being put in by these actors is practically laughable at best.

While “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” had the opportunity to introduce viewers to a brand new and exciting world, the Quantum Realm itself is, for the most part, uninteresting, both visually and thematically. While it is clear through director Peyton Reed’s imaginative direction that there were attempts to create something interesting in the space the characters inhabit, these attempts often come across as utterly nonsensical and contradictory to what the franchise has set up in the past. Not much in the mysterious new world on display stands out, especially when compared to previous worlds that Marvel has explored like Wakanda and the wider galaxy.

“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is a rough-around-the-edges entry in the overpopulated Marvel machine. It has plenty of fun moments, which keep it consistently entertaining, yet its impact immediately begins to shrink in viewers’ minds once the credits roll.

Evan Miller can be reached at