In the last three years, Marvel Studios has been experimenting with its approach to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In MCU Phase 4, they shifted gears from not only focusing on movies but also branching out to making series. With Loki, they set up the base for the newest supervillain — Kang. Played by Jonathan Majors, the MCU antagonist had established himself as a massive threat who could either live up to Thanos or even surpass him at some point in the MCU Phase 5. However, after watching Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the bar seems to be wobbling and I blame the writing for it.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania kicks off the highly-anticipated MCU Phase 5. Paul Rudd and his iconic expandable black and red suit along with Evangeline Lilly’s yellow-suited Hope Van Dyne aka the Wasp team up for a third solo run. With the blip behind them and several years lost due to Thanos’ snap, Scott Lang (Rudd) feels disconnected from his daughter Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton). While he tries to spend as much time as he can learning about his daughter, he is taken by surprise by her various moves, one of them being her ability to contact beings in the Quantum Realm.
Cassie’s genius mind lands Scott, Hope, Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) in a world known only by Janet — the Quantum Realm. While Scott and Cassie land on one side of the realm, Hank, Janet, and Hope are thrown to the other end. Although they are welcomed by alien beings, little do Scott and Cassie know that there is a bigger danger waiting for them — Kang the Conqueror. The menacing villain captures the duo and they are asked to pay the price for an action done by Janet when she was stuck in the realm. The film follows the journey of Scott’s struggle to save the realm while finding a way to pay the price of Janet’s doings.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania aka Ant-Man 3 is a massive step for Marvel Studios in the world of Sci-fi. While the genre has been explored in films like Guardians of the Galaxy series, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, Loki and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness over the years, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania goes all out to embrace the genre much, giving it a Star Wars touch.
Director Peyton Reed introduces new alien characters, sets up a new universe, and even gives a closer look at those who have access to the multiverse. This hints at the various possibilities of newer characters coming in, especially the X-Men, which seems exciting. This is supported well by the VFX. Even on a basic 2D screen, the rich colours and concepts of the realm catch your attention. There is a scene in which Scott is losing hope and is on the verge of being buried under a pile of people. The scene lasts for hardly two minutes but it was enough to make me feel suffocated. The scene that follows, which will remind a lot of the desi Dahi Handi, also stands out in terms of concept.
However, I really wish the script backed the visuals this strongly. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania has nothing concrete to offer on the story and arc front. The film lacks depth which results in a slow-paced boring film. It is probably the first Marvel movie in which I looked away from the screen and began discussing theories with my friend while the movie was going on. While we know that Scott is struggling with the time lost when he was in Quantum Realm last time around, the film doesn’t go deep or present a character growth that helps fans feel empathetic towards him. Characters such as Jentorra (played by Katy O’Brian) showed the potential of becoming one of the biggest takeaways from the film but the writing doesn’t dig deeper into the roles.
Ant-Man is known for its humour, especially by Michael Peña. His absence was felt strongly in the film. Reed tries to fill the void by bringing back Darren Cross / Yellowjacket (Corey Stoll) in an unusual body but it borderlines between humour and discomforting sight. To top it off, the dialogue in some portions, especially when the climax is setting in, felt like it needed a little more work on them.
Paul Rudd, Jonathan Majors, and Michelle Pfeiffer do their best to shoulder the weak film and almost succeed as well. Paul returns as the superhero who thinks from his heart but there isn’t something we’ve never seen before. In his face-off against Kang, I found myself rooting for Scott’s win and hoping that he would return for yet another Marvel movie just so that he could get better treatment.
Meanwhile, Jonathan shines as Kang in most portions of the film. You walk out of the theatre already theorising his role in the future of MCU. But in comparison with his performance in Loki, the new Kang doesn’t live up to He Who Remains. Meanwhile, Michelle leaves a mark with her portrayal of Janet — a warrior with a gruesome past. Unfortunately, Evangeline Lilly was wasted as Hope aka The Wasp. Both the titular superheroes deserved better writing.
Bottomline: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania ends up becoming yet another Thor: Love and Thunder or Doctor Strange in the Madness of Multiverse where the superheroes end up becoming the supporting actors of their own film. While visually it is much better than the prequels, Ant-Man 3 needed a little more brewing.
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