We love Ant-Man. We love the Wasp. We love the Pym-Van Dynes. We’re even warming up to age-jumped Cassie who does not yet have a cool hero name. So we were really excited to sit down and see what hilarious misadventures Scott Lang and company would get into in this, their third film, but try as it might, this movie never congeals into a whole worthy of its parts.
ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA wastes no time trapping Scott, Hope, Hank, Janet, and Cassie in the quantum realm, a subatomic universe filled with odd creatures and somehow also very tiny people. In fact, so much of the movie takes place there, it’s almost entirely shot on green screen. While some of the design is really striking, after awhile the uncanny valley of zero physical sets becomes exhausting. Unlike AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER, the CGI feels just fake enough to be distracting.
Director Peyton Reed and Paul Rudd himself said in interviews that they really wanted to take a big swing here and not just be the MCU’s palate cleanser anymore, which is understandable. The first two Ant-Man films are diverting; nearly standalone episodes in the MCU that don’t carry multi-movie import. Ironically, this one doesn’t either. Introducing Kang’s first turn as an onscreen villain seems so foreboding and like it will impact dozens of films going forward, but somehow, it doesn’t really. And with the last film being the very heavy BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER, a palate cleanser would have been more than welcome.
While often inventive with the sci-fi stuff, Jeff Loveness‘ script is nearly joke-free. Scott is so focused on salvaging his relationship with Cassie that he has almost no screen time to just be Scott. The audience at our screening only laughed lightly a handful of times, as opposed to the previous films which were hysterically funny. Since none of Scott’s friends made the jump to the quantum realm, there’s no Michael Peña. David Dastmalchian is reassigned to voicing a quantum creature with little to do. The brightest spot comes from Bill Murray‘s short appearance as Lord Krylar. Evangeline Lilly is almost completely sidelined. On the plus side, Michelle Pfeiffer is a goddess and a dream. Her fear, anger, and general badassery make her a worthy scene partner for Jonathan Majors, who is magnetic, odd, and scary as Kang. Michael Douglas seems to be having a wonderful time, even if he’s just along for the ride. And without revealing any surprises, M.O.D.O.K.’s involvement bordered on stupefying.
So is it worth seeing? If you’re an MCU fan, yes. The uninitiated or casual observers might have a harder time swallowing this one, but the deeper the MCU goes the less casual its content becomes. In the grand scheme of things, we’re predicting this title will be near the bottom of most MCU rankings.
And yes, in the grand Marvel tradition there are two credits scenes (one mid, one post). These are the only moments in the film that will truly affect events in the MCU going forward, so don’t miss them.
See it for Yourelf
ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA lands in theaters everywhere February 17, 2023.