Review: “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is a Harmless Cog in the Marvel Machine

When it comes to films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Ant-Man franchise could be seen as the most superfluous. With Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the series attempts to raise the stakes to something grander. It doesn’t work like it’s supposed to, but it’s a necessary opening step to reveal what Marvel has up its sleeve.

Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) has become a successful writer and celebrity. Living happily with Hope van Dyne/Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), Scott’s daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) has become a political activist while also working with Hope’s parents Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) on contact with the Quantum Realm.

While testing a device, the five are sucked into the Quantum Realm attempt to make their way back home, but discover the Realm is ruled by Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors). Kang is an exiled traveler who is a variant of one of the most dangerous beings in the multiverse. The group must band together to stop Kang before he is unleashed on their timeline.

If Kang as a character sounds confusing, it’s because he is. The big downside of Marvel’s grand scheme is completism. If you haven’t seen the first season of Loki on Disney+ or read the comics, it’s easy to get confused on who Kang is and why we should care about him. Luckily, the film doesn’t try to throw too much exposition in order to get a grasp on how dangerous Kang is and how important he will be to future films.

This is essentially what the film is. The Ant-Man series has always been the lighter of the Marvel films, and this one keeps the tone while introducing an important character for other, more important films. There are plenty of lighter jokes and fun action sequences, but this is just a stepping stone to introduce the next “big bad” in the Marvel universe. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s an essential step. You can’t just bring someone this important on-board without an understanding of how dangerous that character actually is.

The existing characters are consistent and fun. Rudd is his usual charismatic everyman, while Newton is a fine addition, though she doesn’t get much to do. Same goes for Lilly. Pfeiffer gets to expand her role to a much higher degree, including a few highly impressive action sequences. Her rapport with Douglas is not a dynamic we have gotten to see much of in previous films, which was a nice change of pace.

Majors is the main draw. His characterization of Kang is equal parts megalomaniacal and sympathetic. In this current phase of Marvel films, regardless of what the quality of the films may be, the villains of each film have clear motivations for why they are the way they are. Once again, Kang is proven to have a clear reasoning for why he is a conqueror and why he should be able to be unleashed into the world. Majors brings a level of gravitas and presence to the role, it’s a great introduction to a character we will be seeing much more of.

Plenty of criticism has been laid on the special effects/green screen of the film, but I was unbothered by it. The affects aren’t the forefront of this film, but more of a colorful backdrop. The people are the real draw.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a stepping stone to bigger and grander things, but there are worse ways to start a journey. It’s harmless fun. Shut your brain off and enjoy it.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is now playing in theaters
Score: 3.0/5.0

Review: Thor: Love and Thunder
Loki: Episodes 1 & 2

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