It’s no secret that Marvel has been in a slump since its much-heralded AVENGERS finale, AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019). Since that movie, Marvel has suffered through some missteps, misfires, and mediocrity. However, their recent sequel BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER (2022) was a terrific movie, a perfect testament to both the late Chadwick Boseman and to the Black Panther character. Heck, it even earned a well-deserved Best Picture nomination!
Now comes ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA (2023), Marvel’s latest superhero movie and their third Ant-Man flick. I’ve always enjoyed the ANT-MAN movies, and this third installment is no exception. ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA is high quality entertainment and adventure, enjoyable throughout, and probably the most ambitious ANT-MAN movie yet, as the story takes place inside the quantum world.
Not that ambitious is necessarily better.
I still yearn for an old-fashioned superhero movie where the hero is fighting a supervillain in the here and now, but nowadays we’ve got stories involving the multiverse, the quantum realm, time travel, gods, and faraway worlds across time and space. Yep, superhero tales are becoming more entrenched in the world of science fiction and fantasy. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. It’s just a more difficult thing to get right. You need exceptional writing to pull off these kinds of stories, otherwise you’re left with just striking visuals and no story. The good news is that the writing is up to snuff here in this third ANT-MAN movie.
So is the cast. Marvel superhero movies almost always sport fantastic casts, as they feature A-list actors in both lead and supporting roles. With the ANT-MAN films, it starts with Paul Rudd in the lead role. He’s made it his own, and he carries the fine supporting cast on his back for this fun adventure.
ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA is a family affair. Scott Lang aka Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), his now teenage daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton), his girlfriend Hope Van Dyne aka The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), her father and brilliant scientist Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and her mother, another brilliant scientist Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) are all having dinner when Cassie reveals that she’s been dabbling with the quantum realm herself, and she has developed a method of mapping out the entire quantum world. To do so, she’s been sending a beacon there to retrieve information. When Janet hears about this, she demands Cassie turn it off immediately. But before Cassie can do so, Janet’s worst fears are confirmed, and the five are pulled into the quantum world.
There, they discover a remarkable world of bizarre living creatures and civilizations which, of course, are at war because of a certain being who rules the realm with an iron fist, and he does so because he is intent on escaping the quantum realm and is building a war machine to help him do just that. It turns out that Janet knew all this already because during the thirty years that she spent in the quantum realm, she had met this ruler, but the whole experience had been so horrible for her she wasn’t able to tell her family.
The ruler is Kang (Jonathan Majors), and before Janet left, she had stopped him from leaving, because she believed he was too dangerous, and now that she’s back, Kang not only still wants to escape, but wants vengeance against Janet and her family.
Kang the Conqueror describes himself as master of the multiverse, as a being who understands, controls, and manipulates time. Yet, in spite of this, he still needs Ant-Man to get his power core for him so he can escape. Which had me scratching my head, because if he’s so powerful, why does he need Ant-Man’s help retrieving his much-needed power core? Couldn’t he do it himself?Hmm, not so all-powerful, are you Kang? Apparently, he is, as he’s going to be the focus of the next AVENGERS movie.
Anyway, that’s the plot of ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA. As plots go, it’s okay. Honestly, I’m growing weary of stories about rebels and fights against oppressors, which we see all the time in STAR WARS and in the AVATAR movies. But that doesn’t stop this movie from being entertaining.
It has a fun script by Jeff Loveness which features just the right amount of well-timed humor without becoming entrenched in full blown and misplaced silliness. The laughs were genuine.
As I said earlier, Paul Rudd has owned the role of Ant-Man and made it his own. He’s the perfect ordinary guy— actually, he used to be a thief— who had no business becoming a superhero, yet he did. He embodies the recurring theme in the story that life doesn’t make sense, and that you just have to roll with the punches.
As good as Rudd is in the role, he’s actually outshined a bit by some of the other players in this one. Kathryn Newton brings a tremendous youthful energy to the role of Lang’s daughter, Cassie. It’s Newton’s first time playing the role, and she’s awesome.
And on the other side of the age spectrum, Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer add class and experience to their roles as married scientists Dr. Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne. Douglas has been in all three ANT-MAN movies, and his supporting presence has been a constant. He has a few memorable bits here. Pfeiffer joined the ANT-MAN cast in the second movie, and she’s a joy to watch here in the third ANT-MAN adventure. And when she shows off her fighting skills and takes on the bad guys, it brings back memories of her Catwoman days in BATMAN RETURNS (1992), still the screen’s finest Catwoman performance to date.
Marvel has also been on a roll with its villains of late. I thought Tenoch Huerta’s Namor in WAKANDA FOREVER was one of the better Marvel villains in recent memory, and Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror is equally as impressive. Majors definitely gives Kang a Thanos-type vibe, as he’s the sad and somber all-powerful villain who is capable of instilling so much harm and damage to the universe. I’ll be looking forward to seeing Kang in future Marvel movies.
Jonathan Majors is an impressive actor who has made his mark in recent movies such as in Spike Lee’s DA 5 BLOODS (2020) and in the western THE HARDER THEY FALL (2021) which pitted him against a gunslinger played by Idris Elba. He will also be starring opposite Michael B. Jordan in CREED III (2023) due out on March 3.
Evangeline Lilly returns for the third time as Hope Van Dyne/aka The Wasp, but even though her character’s name is featured in the title of this movie, her character seems to take a back seat to young Kathryn Newton’s Cassie character here. Heck, Cassie even has her own suit!
Bill Murray shows up in a glorified cameo as Lord Krylar, Janet’s former lover in the quantum realm. While Murray is fine, his scene is most memorable for giving Michael Douglas some of his best moments as he plays off Murray’s Lord Krylar, jealous that his wife had a relationship with the man.
Director Peyton Reed creates a memorable quantum world that is a visual feast for the eyes. Reed has directed all three ANT-MAN movies, and he does a fine job here. Of course, he’s also bailed out by the script, which gives this one a story and decent characters in order to prevent it from being just a visual experience. Technology in films has reached superior levels, where it is possible to create unknown worlds and bring them to life in ways that they seem real. And as long as the film has a decent script to go along with it, I have no problem with it. ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA has such a script.
It also has two post credit scenes, one in the middle and one at the end, so if you’re interested in the hints Marvel likes to give regarding their future movies, you might want to stay till the end.
I had a good time with ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA. I enjoyed the visuals, the action, the characters, and the frequently funny dialogue. It also features a heck of a villain.
ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA is another excellent Marvel superhero movie, their second in a row. Here’s hoping their slump is over.
I give it three stars.
Four stars – Perfect, Top of the line
Three and a half stars- Excellent
Three stars – Very Good
Two and a half stars – Good
Two Stars – Fair
One and a half stars – Pretty Weak
One star- Poor
Zero stars – Awful
If you enjoy my reviews, you might enjoy my latest horror novel, DEMON AT THE DOOR, available at the link below: