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Ant-Man and The Wasp Quantumania Review

Following a rocky fourth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the third instalment of the Paul Rudd-fronted Ant-Man is officially kicking off phase five(!) with another jam-packed and ‘game-changing’ slate in tow. While the third instalment of a franchise is often a tricky beast to tackle, the latest Marvel Studios film is also burdened with (perhaps not so) glorious purpose – proving the connecting tissue to set up the next big bad of the cinematic universe.

Directed by Peyton Reed, Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania follows Scott (Paul Rudd) who’s newfound celebrity status is somewhat distracting him from daughter Cassie’s (Kathryn Newton) rebellious and idealistic ‘freedom fighter’ behaviour. While Scott has been living his best life as a successful author, Cassie has been working with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) on a device to try and contact the Quantum Realm – much to the horror of Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), who immediately tries to shut down the machine. However, a portal soon opens, transporting the family into the trippy Quantum Realm – where a certain Conqueror resides…

Much like the third instalment of the Captain America franchise isn’t truly an out-and-out Captain America film, Ant-Man 3 similarly falls into that category. While the film opens with plenty of fun family hijinks and the usual charming humour (bar Luis – we miss you Luis!), screenwriter Jeff Loveness quickly forgoes this setup to establish the scenario that there’s a greater threat afoot.

Queue plenty of laboured “he is coming” and “did she not tell you about HIM” foreshadowing peppered throughout – up until the big reveal – which is intrinsically tied with the much-teased reveal of Janet van Dyne’s time in the quantum realm. Unfortunately Scott and the family dynamic play second fiddle to introducing Kang the Conqueror following that surprise reveal at the end Loki, resulting in an outing which is clearly more interested in setting up the stage – and major pieces – for the next big saga. And it’s a shame, really.

The end product is certainly a tale of two halves, complete with a distinctly mixed tone. While the main narrative is much more concerned with the seriousness of Kang’s escape plans – and the potentially seismic implications this could have on the multiverse – it’s weirdly juxtaposed with a particular brand of goofy humour and the exploration of the bonkers Kirby-esque Quantum Realm. At times it is fun, with a psychedelic, old school sci-fi adventure vibe throughout – think Star Wars meets The Fifth Element. But overall, while some parts work, others really just don’t. The humour feels very much in line with Thor: Love and Thunder and Guardians of the Galaxy 2, with a screenplay full of quips such as “it’s never too late to stop being a dick!”, “ants don’t give up” and “I have holes!” (no, seriously). And the less said about MODOK the better, frankly.

Individual charisma and chemistry between actors certainly elevates the material, with a number of genuine emotional moments and standout performances carrying the film. Firstly, this instalment proves that this is Jonathan Majors’ world and we’re all just living in it. His turn as Kang the Conqueror is undoubtedly captivating, with a surprisingly quiet stillness combined with true physicality and gritty animosity. While his ultimate goal and motivations are kept closely guarded behind an almost unreadable face, he is a surprisingly intimidating force who truly commands the screen. His delivery of “have I killed you before?” certainly exudes an exciting menace that we haven’t seen since Thanos terrorised the MCU.

Michelle Pfeiffer also does a lot of the heavy lifting with an excellent turn as Janet van Dyne, as we finally delve into her time trapped in the Quantum Realm. In fact, the best scenes in the film are the more quieter moments exploring the complicated dynamic between Jane and Kang, in an almost ‘what could have been’ type scenario. Similarly, Rudd also excels alongside Majors in a surprisingly dramatic turn for the beloved comedic actor, proving he’s just as heroic as the superheroes he’s long looked up to and admired. “I don’t have to win…we both just have to lose” certainly is one of the more impactful lines of the film.

However, while Rudd and Newton share a sweet dynamic throughout, Lilly and Douglas somewhat fall to the wayside. There’s still a weird lack of chemistry between Rudd and Lilly (especially considering Rudd is one of the most charismatic actors ever), and Douglas just looks tired of acting in front of a green screen while delivering silly lines. In going big with Kang, Ant-Man has lost it’s family-centric charm.

Still, the surreal and trippy Quantum Realm makes for an entertaining sandbox to play in, with plenty of Kirby-esque outlandish alien species (including a broccoli headed individual with plenty of creepy eyes) and environments to explore. There’s also a few imaginative set-pieces, with standouts including a trippy and hilarious “probability storm” action sequence, along with a thrilling – if slightly chaotic – climactic battle which fully utilises the switch between small, medium and large scale Ant-Man/Wasp and Cassie. However, this is undoubtedly another effects driven MCU outing with endless amounts of green screen and volume backgrounds. At times, the environments are reminiscent of the Spy Kids or Star Wars prequel trilogy, coupled with terribly lit sequences which unnecessarily darken things once again.


Ant-Man and The Wasp Quantumania is overall, a pretty mixed bag – with Peyton Reed torn between committing to the franchises’ fun, family-focused hijinks exploring the wacky Quantum realm or setting up the bigger, Kang shaped multiversal stakes for future instalments. Excellent performances from Majors, Pfeiffer and Rudd aside, this third instalment certainly feels destined to be in service of the larger cogs of the MCU rather than a worthy story in its own right.