Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania was released into cinemas on 17th February 2023, to a mixed response. Impact‘s Thomas Martin reviews.
After raking in $2.8bn at the box office, Avengers: Endgame represented the pinnacle of Marvel Cinematic Universe content, as well as the climax of the Infinity Saga that had panned twenty-three films, stretching from Jon Favreau’s Iron Man in 2008 to Jon Watt’s Spider-Man: Far From Home in 2019. Fast-forward to 2023, concluding with Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, phase 4 largely dealt with the fallout from ‘the Blip’ in Endgame, as well as setting up the pieces for the new Multiverse Saga.
Then, initiating phase 5, releasing on February 17th, 2023, enter Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
Relative to other Avengers’ members, Ant-Man is inferior. Aside from the films, even a physical comparison sees Thor, Captain America, or even Hawkeye come out on top. Fortunately, Paul Rudd’s high-quality acting, coupled with the comedic factor his character provides, sets him apart as a likeable, and, arguably, a relatable hero.
Properly introduces the main villain of the entire Multiverse Saga
Quantumania had a multi-faceted, uphill challenge to face: it was the third film in the Ant-Man arc, the first film of phase 5, and, also, properly introduces the main villain of the entire Multiverse Saga; ‘Kang The Conqueror’ (Jonathan Majors). Moreover, in choosing Ant-Man and his associated characters, such as ‘Hope van Dyne’ (Evangeline Lilly) and ‘Hank Pym’ (Michael Douglas), the plot would need to juggle the fact Marvel Studios has chosen to pit the most dangerous villain in all of Marvel history against a singular, inferior member of the Avengers. This would all be a tall order, and considering the mixed, skewing on negative response for phase 4, it was uncertain how Quantumania would be received.
However, all things considered, largely, the film has succeeded in all aforementioned tasks. Critics were indeed critical of the release. Wendy Ide in the Guardian provided a 2/5 for the ‘incoherent special-effects dump’, The Independent gave a 3/5 for a ‘nicely goofy style,’ the Telegraph gave a 2/5 for a ‘plotless and emotionless… depressing example of what happens to art when special effects takes over,’ and the BBC gave a 2/5 for ‘the worst Marvel film yet’. These do come across overly harsh. That said, audiences have given an 83% approval on Rotten Tomatoes.
Essentially, this film is what I have come to see as a slightly ‘circular’ Marvel movie. This means that the main problem facing the characters occurs at the start, and is self-induced, causing the characters needing to fix the problem to return to their initial starting position, with self-growth throughout. Think Spider-Man: No Way Home, whereby Spiderman’s ruining of Doctor Strange’s spell causes anyone who knew Peter Parker across the Multiverse to descend on Earth.
The caveat in this instalment is the return of Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield as former Spidermen, and other villains, such as Willem Dafoe’s ‘Green Goblin’. In Quantumania, Ant-Man’s daughter, Cassie, has been experimenting with Quantum Realm technology (for some reason), and manages to establish connection with this Realm (casual nineteen-year-old activities). However, after connection is established, Janet Pym, the wife of Hank Pym who had previously been trapped in the Multiverse for thirty years and refused to speak about it, attempts to shut off the device, but before she can, it sucks them in. With that relatively confusing sequence over, the film is then free to show off the Multiverse, which has been mentioned a plethora of times over several releases.
This character represented how one’s past can always crop up again
After interacting with their new environment, there is a single-scene appearance by Bill Murray as Lord Krylar (who’s appearance, admittedly, in the trailer seemed to be greater than what was presented). On Murray’s near-cameo, director Peyton Reed, in Entertainment Weekly, did mention that this character represented how one’s past can always crop up again, and that family secrets – a theme of the film – exist, as Lord Krylar seemingly had a relationship with Janet Pym, unbeknownst to the other family members.
In the multiverse, however, the crux of the plot is our heroes trying to prevent Kang from escaping the Multiverse, where he is trapped. In this endeavour, we meet the comedic-relief factor, who has become an internet/meme favourite, in M.O.D.O.K; better known as Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). The villain of the first Ant-Man release in 2015, Darren Cross, crops up as an-almost lieutenant of Kang, but due to a fault when being transported into the Multiverse, he has a freakishly large head.
My favourite lines of the film came from M.O.D.A.K
If a better representation of M.O.D.A.K is desired, Jeff Loveness, screenwriter for Quantumania, said the character is a cross between Frank Grimes from Homer’s Enemy (1997) Simpson’s episode, and Kevin Kline’s Otto West from A Fish Called Wanda (1988). If anyone can ascertain what this comparison looks like, do let me know. My favourite lines of the film came from M.O.D.A.K. After his mini redemption, he screams ‘My name is Darren, and I am not a d**ck!’ with his final moment of dialogue, before his death, being ‘at least, in the end, I was an Avenger,’ the latter drawing an audible level of laughter from the cinema audience I was sitting with. It was greatly needed, to be fair.
After our heroes defeat Kang, by means that are simply put as CGI-heavy chaos, the mid/post-credits’ scenes provide an important final takeaway. Mid-credits, a kind of ‘Kang convention,’ in the ‘Council of Kangs’ is taking place. It centres around 3 Kangs, who are concerned an Avenger defeated one of them, who walk out into the convention, full of Kang variants, from across the multiverse timelines. With a further post-credits scene featuring Tom Hiddleston as ‘Loki’ and Owen Wilson as ‘Mobius M. Mobius’ teasing the likely Loki season 2 plot with another Kang Variant, Victor Timely, Quantumania finishes.
Unlikely this film will be particularly remembered into the future
In dealing with the multi-pronged dilemma it faced, this film succeeded marginally in all departments, but did not excel in any particular one. Using Ant-Man as a vessel for introducing Kang properly, it is unlikely this film will be particularly remembered into the future, albeit it was an overall fun and solid watch. Partly, it still seems unclear how the abyss created by the loss of Robert Downey Junior’s ‘Iron Man,’ Chris Evans’ ‘Captain America’ and Scarlett Johansen’s ‘Black Widow’ will be filled. There is a Marvel lacuna.
Further still, with lacklustre fan receptions to other heroes’ releases, such as Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder and Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness, it seems increasingly clear the already fan-favourite Jonathan Majors and his Kang(s) are going to be central in phase 5, and to the lead up for Avengers: The Kang Dynasty in 2025.
A solid, albeit imperfect, watch
Overall, whether you are a committed Marvel follower, or simply want to watch Paul Rudd in action, this film is a solid, albeit imperfect, watch. Quantumania scores 3.5/5 for me, as we now swiftly move onto James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3, the final Guardians film. Increasingly tailing off, our favourite heroes and best actors are gradually dissipating with time, and now the turn of Chris Pratt has, unfortunately, arrived.
Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
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