Within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Scott Lang’s Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) has always set himself apart with a unique tone. That gets muddled in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Unfortunately, the film fits into a more generic superhero movie mode and needs more heart.
Scott Lang’s story began in 2015’s Ant-Man when reclusive genius scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) chose Scott to be his protege. Pym had invented technology to reduce the space between atoms, shrinking himself into the first Ant-Man. But he had later been forced out of his company and other scientists have now managed to replicate his work. Hank needs this technology stolen back before it falls into the wrong hands.
Scott is an expert thief who was just released from prison. He wants nothing more than to earn enough money to see his daughter. Scott took to being Ant-Man quite well after a bit of training. He also formed a combative but ultimately romantic connection with Hank’s daughter, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). Scott worked with the Avengers and did his best to stay on the right side of the law as well. Scott also helped Hank and Hope bring back Hope’s mother Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) from somewhere called the quantum realm in 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp. The group’s latest journey returns them to that strange place to face off against a frightening new villain.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania could use more emotional heft in the story, as well as more of the distinctive attitude of the character’s earlier adventures.
“Time is not what you think it is.”
Hank had lost his taste for hero work after a malfunction in his suit caused Janet, who worked with him as the Wasp, to shrink so small that she entered the quantum realm, the subatomic place outside of space and time. She did it to save many people but she was lost in the process. Scott was also forced to enter the quantum realm when defeating his first bad guy. Fast thinking allowed him to come back quickly. Scott also entered the quantum realm to obtain healing quantum particles. The trip was supposed to be quick but he got stuck there when Hank, Hope, and Janet were part of the 50 percent of humanity turned to dust by Thanos’ snap. Luck got Scott out after 5 years, though it only felt like 5 hours to him. He went to the Avengers and a little time travel got everyone back and Thanos was destroyed.
Janet had been living in the quantum realm for 30 years before Hank and Hope managed to get her back. After everyone resumed their lives, the three settled into being a family again but Janet avoided talking about her time in the quantum realm. That’s why Hank, Hope, and Cassie (Kathryn Newton) don’t tell her when they devise a way to send a signal to the quantum realm. When they show off their progress, Janet insists they shut it off. But it’s too late. Something sucks the whole group into that weird and bizarre place. They soon find out it is Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors), and Janet faces things she hoped never to face again.
“Does your family even know who you are?”
Kang is someone Marvel fans have already seen recently. He can travel the multiverse, so another version of him was He Who Remains, the powerful force that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) faced in the first season finale of Loki. Loki variant Sylvie (Sophia de Martino) killed him but that led to chaos in the timelines. Loki returned to find that Kang had taken control and installed himself as a sort of god. The version of Kang in this film had been exiled by all the other versions. Janet found him, took pity on him, and helped him repair his ship which could take them out of the quantum realm. However, the ship worked through a link to his mind. Janet saw what Kang was after one touch on the fixed ship. She used Hank’s enlarging tech to strand Kang in the quantum realm. Now he wants revenge.
Janet feels a lot of guilt about leaving the other inhabitants of the quantum realm under the thumb of a tyrant. Especially when Kang threatens Cassie to force Scott to help him repair his ship once again. Meanwhile, Cassie feels her own guilt because it was her signal that put almost everyone she loves into the danger they’re in now. I think it is within reason to feel a touch of misogyny behind all this guilt for two of the main female characters here.
“Ignore them, they’re just other possibilities.”
Another disappointing aspect of the writing is how typical most of it felt. Of course, Cassie is following in her father’s footsteps flouting the law if she thinks it’s the right thing to do. And of course, Cassie is doing the teenager thing of accusing her dad of not helping people enough since Thanos was defeated. The climactic showdown between Scott and Kang feels like all the others we’ve seen. Majors is thrillingly talented, though. Kang is only getting started, I have no doubt. Likewise, Pfeiffer makes you forget how long it’s been since her Catwoman days. She’s that strong of a presence.
There are some presences missing here, though. The hilarious trio of Scott’s friends from the first two films is nowhere to be seen. Led by Michael Pena‘s Luis, the three provided incredible laughs. You feel their absence. Every once in a while, there is a moment in this film that comes close to the humor you remember but not enough. Also lacking is a significant amount of emotional connection between the viewer and the story. It just needs more heart. It’s a bit hard to say that. Rudd is such an appealing performer and Scott is such an affable character.
But when you come to the end of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, you realize it feels more like a superhero movie and less like an Ant-Man movie.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is now playing only in theaters.