Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is the continuing story of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd). Having saved the world—a fact he’s mentioned once or twice—Lang enjoys a quieter life. His days consist of smiling at strangers on the street, posing for pictures with people’s dogs, and not minding when he’s confused with Spider-Man. But most of all, Scott is making up for lost time with his daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton). As she’s grown, Cassie has become more curious about her dad’s “work,” especially his time in the Quantum Realm. With a assist by Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), she has built a system for mapping the subatomic world. After activating it however, the entire family gets sucked into the Quantum Realm and being hunted by Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors). Having been previously been trapped there by Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), Kang now seeks revenge and a means to escape, hoping to pursue his own agenda.
What works in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is the wonderous depiction of the microscopic universe and the proper introduction of Majors’ Kang. Director Peyton Reed (Ant-Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp) uses all the colors of the rainbow to create a previously unexplored corner of the Quantum Realm to whimsical effect. Creativity flourishes as the heroes navigate the flora and fauna of the secret world, encountering its eccentric inhabitants. But among all of them, it is Kang who makes the biggest impression. Majors delvers a tortured performance of the time-traveler, which makes the character incredibly complex. Excessive knowledge burdens this version of Kang, and he thus feels compelled to act. He is also impulsive. In one instant, Kang seems reasonable and even charming. But the moment he feels threatened or challenged; Kang unleashes his fury. Majors imbues nuance into this villain, successfully setting up Kang for what most assume will be a long journey through the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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Audiences who don’t enjoy science-fiction/alien world stories, or underdeveloped characters, may not appreciate Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania as much as others. The vast majority of this adventure takes place in a computer-generated fantasy, which some could easily label as weird or disjointed. This is a specific genre of film, and even within the MCU continuum it’s one of the more outlandish movies. Furthermore, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania feels like a bridge more than a standalone structure. The focal point of this third film isn’t Lang’s development, but rather the tease of Kang and the horrors he might unleash…in future films. This tack mostly works but can also be frustrating given how little backstory Kang has, thus muddling his motivations. And finally, the amount of time spent on Kang is to the detriment of nearly everyone else, leaving heroes like Lilly’s Wasp with very little to do.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is an entertaining, if uneven entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While it lacks the dramatic stakes and grandeur of its predecessors, the imagination and Majors make it worth a look.
Recommended if you Enjoyed: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Strange World, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Innerspace
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania arrives in theaters on Friday, February 17th.