Quantumania Is a Tangled Mess of Setups

by Liam Trump ‘24

Following up two far smaller scale films—Ant-Man (2015) and Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018), Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania promises to widen the horizons of the franchise and be the first step into Marvel Studios’ Phase 5, the next chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). With an introduction of the next Avengers movie’s title villain, Kang (Jonathan Majors) to the silver screen, a more thorough exploration of the previously touched on Quantum Realm, and a better look into Scott Lang’s (Paul Rudd) relationship with his daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) AKA Stature, Quantumania had a considerable amount of ground to cover. With so many vital story beats for the greater universe mixed in with smaller character moments, the film sadly comes across as a balancing act that fails to properly explore any one of these aspects with any real depth.

The story follows Scott as he and his family get sucked into the Quantum Realm, a universe that exists at the microscopic level. There, they meet the brutal dictator Kang, who, after being banished to the Quantum Realm, has created an empire that has stripped the freedom of its inhabitants. This eventually leads to a revolution against Kang where Scott, Cassie, Hope (Evangeline Lilly), Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), and Hank (Michael Douglas) fight alongside a band of freedom fighters to liberate the Quantum Realm.

Seemingly a simple plot progression, Quantumania struggles to adequately develop its core cast of characters. With the exception of Kang, who is portrayed by an extremely competent Majors, the five main protagonists come across as one note, lacking much nuance and behaving more as cogs to wheel the plot forward than anything substantial. The performances aren’t too special either, with Newton, a newcomer to the MCU, sticking out as the most awkward in her line delivery, hampered by the near constant green-screen backgrounds and CGI effects she has to interact with.

The Quantum Realm itself has such little personality, and is yet another example of the typical modern sci-fi fare that’s more focused on grand-scale effects and eye-catching creature designs than giving the world its own identity. Outside of a fairly entertaining heist scene toward the middle of the film, most of the sequences are bland and forgettable.

The previous two Ant-Man movies, even with their flaws, weren’t bogged down with endless setup for the future. And even with an undoubtedly well-written main villain, Quantumania is still a bloated mess that’s more interested in preparing audiences for the upcoming projects than telling a compelling story on its own.

Grade: C-