Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania


Spoilers for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania


It is no overstatement to say that I have been traumatised by Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (dir. Sam Raimi) and how it twisted, destroyed, and frustrated all my hopes and dreams for a few favourite characters of mine. I dreaded the same disaster would befall my beloved Ant-Man and the Wasp and entered the cinema with some apprehension.

Instead, I was delighted

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania maintains everything that made the initial series and its characters feel original–a worthy accomplishment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Paul Rudd lends his character, Scott Lang, a warmth and humour that feels unique even amongst the multitude of sarcastic, loveably narcissistic men in the MCU. Initially, I was inclined to argue this is because of Rudd himself. Yet, now I am considering the more likely (and less lazy) alternative: it is Scott’s characterisation as a father to daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton), and family man, which makes him so special.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania focuses not so much on romance but rather on the bond between parents and their children. The film could have benefited from more interaction between Hope and Cassie, seeing how the two had mirrored frustrations towards their parents, stemming from disappointment, miscommunication, and distance. Nevertheless, the film continues to establish that while Scott and Hope share an epic, and now increasingly domestic, love, it never outshines Scott’s love for his daughter, nor Hope’s for her parents.

In a film abound with fantastic visuals and impressive world-building of the quantum realm, one of my favourite scenes was the simple Lang-Pym-Van Dyne family lunch. From Hank’s (Michael Douglas) ‘Pym Particle’ pizza to quips around the table, it was heart-warming to see that in spite of those five years lost, Hank, Scott, Hope (Evangeline Lily), Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), and Cassie remain a tight unit.

Our grown-up Cassie takes her place in the family naturally, as she fondly refers to “grandpa Hank”, and continues their legacy of scientific genius and fascination with the Quantum Realm. Janet resumes her place as wife and mother, and takes on her new mantles as both grandmother and mother-in-law with apparent ease, though shrouded by the trauma of those lost 31 years. Newton and Pfeiffer deserve kudos for their performances, especially considering Newton’s status as a young newcomer. The casting team have also made a praiseworthy effort with the chemistry we see between all of the characters.

The separation of the Langs and Pym-Van Dynes for most of the film allows for the interesting family dynamics to take centre stage. The perspective this gives us into their dynamics is both rich and shallow: we get a good sense of how these individual family members connect with one another, but not of the family unit as a whole. I cannot exactly criticise this though, because while I would have loved to have seen more of them together, their separation is necessary to explore how Scott and Cassie, and Hank, Janet, and Hope navigate the complications and trauma which have disrupted their respective relationships.

Jonathan Majors is remarkable as Kang the Conqueror, shifting between desperation, brink-of-death exhaustion, affability, and terrifying coolness. Majors acted with a Shakespearean pathos and agility evocative of Hamlet.

Meanwhile, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) as the villain M.O.D.O.K is unexpected but hilarious. His death puts M.O.D.O.K’s role in the MCU at an untimely end but at least it was memorably funny, as Darren claims Scott was “always like a brother to [him]” and that “at least [he] died an Avenger” after redeeming himself to “not be a dick”.  

Aside from the main cast, a few outstanding side characters are a delight, and underutilised, on screen. One standout is Quaz (William Jackson Harper), a dry, no-nonsense and suspicious telepath who inspires laughter with his bluntness and sharp remarks. Then there’s Veb (David Dastmalchian), a gelatinous blob-like creature (there’s really not many other ways to describe his appearance) obsessed with “holes”, and Jentorra (Katy O'Brian), their battle-scarred leader with a passionate sense of injustice.

Hopefully we see more of this new band of freedom fighters in the future. A likely prospect, considering the intensive efforts put into building the world of the Quantum Realm here.

By the end of the film, it seems Hope and Scott are the Quantum Realm’s newest captives after their brutal defeat of Kang. The couple stare out peacefully at the celebrating freedom fighters and the world they have freed from tyranny, apparently accepting their fate. Until suddenly, a portal opens behind them as Cassie comes to their rescue. A happy ending, but also a wasted opportunity for a dramatic twist, which nullifies Scott’s sacrifice.

Ant-Man’s future is promising, provided his story is not spoiled by Marvel and that Peyton Reed remains director. So far, they have remained consistent in their depiction of Scott’s values and relationships (an astounding achievement in the MCU), whilst allowing him to grow. Although I cannot help feeling that it would not hurt for him to grow a little more–yes, Scott made a meaningful contribution once more in rescuing the Quantum Realm, but the question remains of what his position is on Earth outside of his suit and his role as “protective dad”.

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