Quantumania works for how hard it tries to combine two opposing Marvel movies.
Published on February 22, 2023
Rating 3 /5
Quantumania is the third Ant-Man movie and the first movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Five. It wants to continue the story of Scott Lang and company with their many issues of family amid handling dangerous size-shifting science. It also wants to introduce the next big villain for the Avengers to battle in future movies. The clashing of these two types of superhero movies ultimately led to a fun yet frustrating picture, feeling the least like an Ant-Man movie and too much like a prologue for Avengers.
It was nice to return to the dynamic of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) dealing with family and fame. Unlike the other superheroes in the wake of Avengers: Endgame, Scott seems to be able to return to a reasonably happy life. He’s still in love with Hope (Evangeline Lilly), on good terms with her dad Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and seems to appreciate the casual compliments for saving the world. His current relationship with his teenage daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton), who is going down a rebellious streak similar to her dad. She’s also experimenting with tapping into the quantum realm, which terrifies Hank’s recently rescued wife, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), who has terrible memories of that place.
After some science tinkering, the entire Ant-Man collective is sent into the quantum realm, struggling to find a way back to their reality. Naturally, this leads to an adventure of all sorts of sci-fi creatures, spaceships, cultures, and wild technology. There’s so much going on that the many arcs almost feel cast aside for the sake of the spectacle. Hank and Janet seem like they’d have some friction over Janet’s sordid past and what secrets she kept hidden. Sadly, their feuding takes a backseat as they resolve quickly amid high-speed chases and fight scenes. It makes Scott’s ordeal with his daughter easier to handle, considering how fast Cassie has picked up on the superhero work and only needs a few small pointers.
The plot sounds so unlike the last two Ant-Man movies, which all had an edge as being caper films. This time, Ant-Man needs to stop the evil Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) from enslaving the people of the quantum realm and taking his violence into our world. At least, Kang fits the bill of having a history with the Pym family that makes him a compelling threat, but his grander goal seems to go beyond revenge and escape. In this film, however, he’s reduced to being a corrupt imperialist. The only allure to this villain beyond his primary goals and foreshadowed omnipresence is that Majors plays the role so well. He makes the most out of such a simple villain, and it’s always a treat when he’s on the screen.
The direction of this film is messy when considering it sidelines the fast-paced editing for standard superhero adventure staging. To the film’s credit, the abundance of visual effects is sublime, complete with creative characters and cultures, where giant organisms double as building and warships. Yet the film spends so much time lavishing over the weirdness of the quantum realm’s many quirks that it gets to be a slog of frosting dolloped on top of truckloads of exposition. Thankfully, all of this comes together nicely in the picture’s exciting climax, complete with an absurd side villain, MODOK, reaped for all the ridiculousness one could muster from a giant floating head with little arms and legs.
Quantumania works for how hard it tries to combine two opposing Marvel movies. The Ant-Man arcs completed are interesting despite how little time they are given to grow in this overcrowded superhero adventure paced at two hours. The reveal of Kang is strong and makes for a character who will be enticing to see in future Marvel movies. There’s even some admiration in the film, trying to go outside its comfort zone. That said, it’s still one of the weaker Ant-Man entries for ending the trilogy on a chaotic conclusion.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.