Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania may be about a small hero, but it’s a big, bad movie. Loaded with special effects and a grand introduction to the MCU’s next big villain, this latest franchise entry looks the part but is easily one of the worst Marvel movies to date.
Watching this new Ant-Man movie is an odd experience, because on the surface it checks a lot of boxes. Paul Rudd making quirky remarks? Check. Marvel-level action throughout? Check. A menacing villain? Check. Bill Murray? Check.
And yet the movie, which clocks in at a merciful two hours (“only two hours” by MCU standards), is a dreadful bore. It desperately wants to be fun, cool, and fast-moving, to give us insight into new places never before seen on screen, but it instead comes off as desperately tired and uninventive. It isn’t boring in a traditional sense–stuff happens constantly, and you’re not waiting around for something, anything to happen–and yet as the minutes tick on the movie, helmed by returning Ant-Man director Peyton Reed, you have to ask yourself, “This is the best they could come up with?”
The first Ant-Man was an amusing sideshow for the MCU, and benefited from the inventiveness of the hero’s “powers.” Ant-Man and the Wasp I referred to as “pretty damn entertaining,” though I can’t exactly recall what the hell happened in that movie. Those two movies benefited from not being obsessed with world-building; they were fun, controlled, and tight.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is what happens when you abandon your formula and give fully into the generic franchise-extending machine the MCU has become. Sapped of creativity, originality, and purpose other than to set up future movies, this latest entry is just colorful nothingness to watch. The inventiveness of the shrinking/enlarging tech and the visual opportunities it presents–recall the Thomas the Train fight from the original–is gone, replaced with the Quantum Realm, a world that is really just an alien landscape reminiscent of Guardians of the Galaxy (but lacking the witty writing and memorable characters) when it should have been more on the spectrum of Strange World.
Its one real draw is its introduction to Kang the Conqueror, played with simmering, scene-chewing delight by Jonathan Majors. Majors commands every scene he’s in, even if his character is as one-dimensional as they come, his presence only ruined by a truly terrible post-credits scene.
But beyond Majors, there isn’t much.
There are some funny bits, of course, and I liked Mordock, as cheesy as he was (a better Ant-Man would have had Paul Rudd facing off against this weird creature for 90 minutes). The goo creature is amusing, too. Michele Pfeiffer still is a head-turner (but is still wasted in the MCU) and Michael Douglas has charm.
Perhaps one of Quantumania’s biggest writing sins is that one of its titular characters–the Wasp (played by my “Lost” crush Evangeline Lilly)–is there for show. Until the end of the movie’s climax you totally forget that technically this is supposed to be her movie too; the only memorable thing she does in the movie is to showcase multiple bad hairdos.
Marvel has a big problem on its hands, and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumanium is the latest demonstration: the quality of the MCU franchise has diminished considerably since Endgame.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.