Due to a waning interest in the MCU as of late, I skipped out on Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania when it hit theatres. Thankfully, it recently dropped on Disney+. And when I say thankfully, I mean I’m thankful I didn’t have to spend money on it. This is a rough movie on many levels. I don’t like being a downer, but this was a rough watch and one of the weakest Marvel Cinematic Universe releases. Let’s get into it.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania sees the return of Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang and Evangeline Lily’s Hope van Dyne, living in a post-Endgame world. Scott has become a successful author while Hope has entered into the humanitarian field, trying to make the world a better place. Scott’s daughter, Cassie (now played by Katheryn Newton) however, has a struggling relationship with her dad in the wake of her activism, something that has gotten her arrested multiple times. It’s a promising start, one that could have showcased a more domestic side to the superhero story, something that the Ant-Man movies have succeeded with in the past.
But Cassie is also apparently a Tony Stark-level genius and has designed a device (in her basement, of course) that can communicate with the Quantum Realm. But Janet van Dyne freaks out and shuts it down but it’s too late, someone on the other end of the Realm heard the message and brought Scott, Hope, Cassie, Janet, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and a slew of ants into the Quantum Realm. What follows is a bit of a mess.
I mean that on many levels. Quantumania is shot in the volume, the soundstage technology used predominantly in The Mandalorian but also in House of the Dragon and Thor: Love and Thunder. Unlike the exploits in a galaxy far, far away, Quantumania just looks…bad. The background image feels very flat, which makes the actors feel like they’re standing on a stage against a screen. It’s really distracting. It doesn’t help that the background is always some form of CGI backdrop that has no real-world connection, so it ends up feeling quite fake and flat. CGI creatures also feel like they got pulled from 2003. I know that the Marvel VFX teams were working crazy hours and likely faced burnout, which likely caused subpar results and (probably) the firing of Victoria Alonso, but when the 2012 Avengers movie looks better than your 2023 Ant-Man movie, there’s an issue beyond the crunch. As a note, Avengers has a budget of around $220M and Quantumania has a budget of $200M, so they are comparable in this sense. Infinity War and Endgame, for example, are budgeted around $400M each.
Another thing that became very obvious to me as the movie was playing was the writing. While the Ant-Man movies have kept Peyton Reed in the director’s chair for all three outings, it has shuffled the writing staff around each time and this time the writing duties fall on Jeff Loveness, a writer on Rick and Morty. His writing was wildly inconsistent, much like this movie. Dialogue in particular felt cringe more often than not and I honestly thought some of the dialogue was written by A.I. For a good chunk of the first act, the movie was so determined on playing “the pronoun game” with the film’s main antagonist that I started laughing at the number of times that they said “him” instead of just Kang. While I was laughing at this, the movie overall just wasn’t funny, something the other two films could at least claim. Quantumania tried, but fell flat on its oozy face. It doesn’t bode well for my excitement for Avengers: Dynasty of Kang, as Loveness is the writer on that film as well.
The film did improve dramatically whenever the scenes were focused on Janet (Phiffer showed up to work) and Kang (Jonathan Majors). These scenes actually felt like effort was put into the writing and acting and it’s a shame that the rest of the movie didn’t try as hard as when it focused on these two. Janet, having spent time in the Realm in the past, knows who Kang is and what he’s capable of whereas Kang is determined to leave his exile. Despite delivering a rock-solid performance, I never bought into Kang being the next Thanos-level threat though. Plus, who knows if Majors will even continue on in the role, considering his abuse allegations.
In the end, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is frustrating, forgettable, hard on the eyes and uninspired. It’s one of those MCU movies that I’ll never watch again and find it hard to recommend. It feels more like a bridge for things to come, rather than a contained movie in itself. A lot of character beats, like Cassie and Scott’s strained relationship, feel brushed aside with little development to be found in the movie. Poor CGI, weak characterization, uninteresting story and some rough dialogue make this a pass for me.