Dazzling visuals and veteran A-listers do not hide the fact that Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is rather limp in story.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Under the mentorship of Hank Pym, Cassie Lang trains ants and investigates the quantum realm, and creates disaster. Her creation results in her whole family sucked into the quantum realm, after which they discover that Janet van Dyne was hardly languishing in solitude during her years there. Janet’s history with a certain other prisoner of the realm also places the entire multiverse into immediate danger.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is the first “MCU Phase 5” movie, the one that’s supposed to dunk us viewers further into the madness/dangers of the Multiverse. The way things are looking, it’s not quite the grand overture it’s (probably) intended to be.
Ant-Man 3, as some viewers are calling it, isn’t exactly disappointing in box office taking or reception at the moment—I think we have seriously come to expect too much from MCU movies. However, that didn’t stop some critics from highlighting that it’s the second lowest-rated MCU flick to date. Just faring slightly better than Eternals.
I somewhat agree with this lacklustre response. Like many MCU productions, Quantumania is full of flashy, loud, otherworldly visuals. The super-powered fights, while annoyingly messy to me, would appeal to those who love it that way.
But there was a certain hollowness throughout. A marked lack of emotional highs or dramatic tension too despite all the revelations about how Janet van Dyne spent her years in the Quantum Realm.
Now, I’m not complaining that the movie is predictable; superhero movies thrive on predictability. What I’m saying is that, overall, a sense of grand adventure is missing. You also don’t further connect with Scott or Hope, or Cassie for that matter, because this sequel just doesn’t explore anything new about them. The same goes for the older Ant-Man and Wasp couple, i.e., Hank and Janet.
The Pyms and Langs get sucked into another otherworldly adventure. They hold together as a family, and through their wits and intrepidness, bashed even a time-traveling conqueror. Etc.
It sounds like fun. And it was fun for a while, when the movie enthusiastically threw in all sorts of weird races and habitats. There was also, of course, Corey Stoll’s M.O.D.O.K., who steals the limelight with every scene he’s in. *
But once the movie sweeps away these adornments to focus on the leads, the fun seeps away. You can’t help but experience an emptiness despite the high-energy shootouts at the end.
Questions. Am I expecting too much? Have I been spoilt rotten by the better MCU movies in the 2010s? Or maybe the whole Marvel formula has started to tire.
I should comment on the villain too. I appreciate what Jonathan Majors is doing here. His ambiguously soft-spoken Kang is in many ways, way more disturbing and sinister than classic comic book megalomaniacal villains.
But the attraction doesn’t last, at least not for me. Somehow, this version of Kang feels distant and because of that, the threat he exudes quickly fades. Is this intended? So as to give future episodes room to grow?
The Marvel fanboy in me hopes it is.
* I have to praise Peyton Reed for showing M.O.D.O.K. as the villain is, instead of with changes to downplay the absurdity.
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