‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ attempts dimension but falls flat

March 28, 2023


Photo Courtesy of Disney

“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” kicks off Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and introduces a new major villain, Kang.

Ant-Man: A name that does a disservice in describing the sheer enormity of this character, from physical size to iconic personality. Every Marvel movie thus far has served to deepen the collective love of Paul Rudd’s hero, mainly through his comedic antics, and while Ant-Man’s performance was never a lackluster element of “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” other parts of it—alluded to by its 47% on Rotten Tomatoes—surely were.

The film opens up with one of the most creative intros of any Marvel movie thus far: Scott Lang (Rudd), the titular character, strutting downtown and regaling the situation of his life as a middle-aged man (and former hero) directly to the audience. We later realize that this is all part of the closing paragraphs of his self-published memoir, a central point of comedic value to the characters. This set the tone for the rest of the film—as the viewer has come to expect with any installment of “Ant-Man”—as one filled with trashy fun; at this point, I was extremely excited.

Another aspect set up by the introduction was Lang’s relationship with his daughter, Cassie. For those behind on the Marvel timeline, Ant-Man had been M.I.A. for five years in the Quantum Realm, not having any opportunity to watch his child grow. Five years later, a lot has changed, and this dynamic of slight unfamiliarity is covered and iterated upon as the two acclimate and their relationship deepens.

Disappointingly, the movie experiences an aforementioned decline in quality. Janet (Hayley Lovitt), the Wasp’s mother, seems to spring out of nowhere as a character with immense amounts of knowledge. “I’m a pretty big Marvel fan myself, and I had no idea who she was before this movie,” sophomore Aaron Logsdon said. She had been stuck in the deep Quantum Realm for a very extended period of time (a plot crutch, of sorts) and before you know it, she’s right back where she started—along with the rest of the cast. This “scientific mishap” is an inciting incident all too relied upon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, prompted in this film by Cassie. “Of course the kid had to do it,” sophomore Saif Salchak said.

It is then that we are introduced to the monstrous antagonist, Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors): one of the two saving graces of this film along with the Ant-Man himself. It is revealed that he had a friendship with Janet in the Quantum Realm, introducing himself as a stranded and benevolent man with access to unprecedented levels of (broken) technology. This visage is, quite clearly, a part of his true character. His other half is sinister, cold, and calculating, unleashing bouts of unadulterated rage whilst murdering entire populations in his conquest, then strategically torturing Cassie in front of Lang in order to cement his cooperation. 

Since his time as a castaway with Janet, he has built up an empire and taken full control of the quantum realm, hoping to mobilize this empire around the multiverse once his technology has been successfully repaired. Naturally, for our protagonists to leave, they must interact with this ruler of the domain. Kang’s character is deep and powerful—being an emotional, stereoscopic figure in an alien world. He possesses uncontrollable motivations, masked by a veil of genuineness, and Majors brings about his villain’s reality with flawless execution.

Despite Kang’s presence, the positives stop there with the amount of unnecessary theatrics this production contained. A giant floating head named MODOK, who turned out to be some long-lost villain from the original “Ant-Man,” seemed to be a horrendous attempt at recreating Paul Rudd’s personality—especially considering this character was very different in his appearance in the previous film.  This was combined combined with a large plothole: “If Ant-Man was stuck in the quantum realm for five years, how had he never discovered any of this in the first place?” Salchak asked. 

“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” seems to necessitate low quality in its aims to live up to the prior feature films, and is sorely beaten by Marvel’s last film, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” With Ant-Man, the protagonist, and Kang, the antagonist, serving to provide a quality dipole in terms of depth and role, the rest of the story revolves around these three-dimensional characters as a two-dimensional plane. Rating: 4/10.

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