• Tue. Feb 27th, 2024


ByTaylor Carlson

Feb 14, 2023

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Jonathan Majors, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Douglas, Kathryn Newton, David Dastmalchian, William Jackson Harper, Katy O’Brian, Corey Stoll, and Bill Murray. It’s film 31 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the first movie in the MCU’s Phase Five.

Scott Lang (AKA Ant-Man) enjoys celebrity status following saving the world from the threat of Thanos alongside the Avengers, being loved and respected by San Francisco locals and recently having finished his autobiography. He’s trying to reconnect with his daughter Cassie, but is thrust into another conflict when he and Cassie, as well as Hope van Dyne (AKA Wasp), Janet van Dyne (the original Wasp) and Hank Pym (the original Ant-Man) are sucked into the Quantum Realm following an equipment malfunction, where they find themselves separated and under the threat of a mysterious villain, Kang the Conqueror, and his henchman/enforcer MODOK. Will our heroes escape back into the real world, or will they crumble under one of the most powerful villains they’ve ever faced?

Leave it to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or is it Multiverse at this point?) to continue to throw colorful characters, epic storylines, and surreal landscapes at moviegoing audiences who keep eating it up all around the world. Even with the Infinity Saga being done, subsequent phases have proven that the House of Marvel still has it going on. Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man has been one of the best casting choices in the MCU, and seeing his saga unfold as he goes from everyman to Avenger has been an interesting and epic one. QUANTUMANIA is his biggest solo adventure yet, featuring a fantastic cast, the weirdest locale seen in a Marvel movie yet, and a large scale finale while still managing to retain a sense of intimacy and humanity. Some characters and plot points lack the screen time and development they deserve (and one face connected to Scott Lang is frustratingly MIA altogether), but it’s another serviceable and entertaining outing from Marvel Studios. Fans shouldn’t be disappointed.

An ANT-MAN movie, of course, wouldn’t be complete without Paul Rudd as the title character. There have been fantastic casting choices in the MCU over the years, with Marvel Studios always winning the masses over. Rudd’s Lang brings an “everyman” quality to the role which is equal parts relatable and hilarious. He remains one of my favorite characters in the MCU; the lovable and at-times inept goofball you can’t help but love, with an ability that makes for some unique fight scenes. Rudd certainly had an acting career prior to the MCU, but this has become the guys’ definitive role.

Not to be outdone are the other members of the cast. Michael Douglas has always shined as Hank Pym, a troubled man and obsessive researcher, but one not without humanity. His daughter, Janet van Dyne, portrayed by Evangeline Lilly, has had an interesting relationship with Rudd’s Ant-Man, and seeing how it’s developed over the movies. One of the greatest strengths of the film is finally given a more central role to Michelle Pfeiffer’s Janet van Dyne, the original WASP, who was a supporting character at best in earlier installments. She finally gets the screen time and history she deserves with the arrival of the third ANT-MAN adventure, as her backstory in the Quantum Realm becomes a major focal point, and not something just given a few passive mentions. A welcomed new addition to the MCU is Kathryn Newton as Cassie, Scott Lang’s daughter (younger versions of the characters were played by Abby Ryder Fortson and Emma Fuhrmann, respectively), who gets more screen time to shine than in earlier installments of the MCU. Let’s hope she sticks around and plays the role for years to come; her potential is definitely hinted at here.

As the title QUANTUMANIA implies, the Quantum Realm takes center stage in the MCU’s latest installment. While the first two Ant-Man movies were set largely in San Francisco, this movie takes place almost entirely in that realm. Surreal and bizarre around every corner, it’s a locale that must be seen to be believe, with inhabitants that are every bit as strange as the surroundings. We meet some new and interesting characters along the way as well, and while they don’t all get the development or time they deserve on screen, the movie makes an impression.

This also marks the first feature film MCU appearance of Kang the Conqueror, portrayed by actor Jonathan Majors (although a multiverse variant had previously appeared in the LOKI series on Disney+). While his backstory is a bit generic and doesn’t quite get the development it deserves, Majors’ performance sells the character. Too many MCU movies suffer from weak villains, both of terms of power and characterization alike, I’m glad to know that there are future plans for this character as well (something proven beautifully with the inclusion of a mid-credits and post-credits scene). Majors may very well have found the role that’ll define his already-impressive career.

The film isn’t quite perfect despite all it does well. Too many characters are sidelined in favor of universe/multiverse building; this is ironic given that the 2015 ANT-MAN movie that debuted Rudd in the role was strong due to its smaller-scale storytelling. For the movie having “The Wasp” in its title, Evangeline Lilly is given surprisingly little to do, and she and the other titular hero don’t get enough screen time together. Even Michael Douglas feels sidelined, only really playing a significant role when the movie requires it. I love building a universe and a multiverse, but it feels like it comes at too high a price here. Even Scott’s relationship with his daughter only feels like fragments of what could’ve been had they kept this a smaller-scale story.

A major aspect of the film being promoted is a role played by legendary actor Bill Murray, but I’m disappointed to say he gets what’s basically a one-scene cameo; it’s “one and done.” I won’t spoil anything about his character/scene here, but don’t expect anything beyond that scene.

And there’s a face that’s disappointingly missing from the movie altogether – Luis, Scott Lang’s former cellmate and storytelling buddy portrayed by Michael Pena. He was disappointingly missing from AVENGERS ENDGAME (though his van was there of course), so I hoped this would be a comeback from who’s arguably the funniest man in the MCU. Would there have been room for him in this movie? That’s hard to say with the already-full cast, but his absence is certainly felt. The movie does manage to balance humor and action well without Pena, but let’s hope this guy gets to come back to the MCU soon.

QUANTUMANIA isn’t perfect, but it still starts Phase Five of the Marcel Cinematic Universe in fine form, with a great new villain, surreal surroundings, and solid performances from old and new heroes alike. I don’t it’s going to be anyone’s new favorite movie in the MCU, but it’s still a strong and enjoyable installment. Definitely worth catching in the theater!

By Taylor Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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