Review | ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ — Marvel’s phase five is off to an ant-sized start


Image via Disney.

“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” poster.

By Ore Fawole, For The Pitt News

Stellar performances from Paul Rudd and Marvel newcomer Jonathan Majors cannot save “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” from its poor pacing, characterization, dialogue and overall originality.

As Marvel still tries to find its footing in a post-“Avenger’s Endgame” landscape, there’s a general sense of disorder across the franchise with its latest releases. The third “Ant-Man” film and its unusually rotten reviews did little to remedy fans’ unease.

The film opens with a shockingly short, narrated introduction to Antman’s (Paul Rudd) life without the suit on. Post-blip, Scott Lang is happy with his girlfriend, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). He’s written a memoir chronicling his time as an Avenger, and his daughter, Cassie (Kathryn Newton), is a political activist framed as a delinquent. Life is at an all-time high for Ant-Man. 

Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), a world-renowned physicist who created the Ant-Man suit, and Cassie, Scott’s lawless teenage daughter, accidentally open communication with the Quantum Realm — much to the chagrin of Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer). After Janet’s 30-year stint in the previously undiscovered realm, she tries and fails to cut off contact. 

What feels like seconds after the film begins, the main cast is sucked into the Quantum Realm, and the action begins. Janet introduces our main villain, Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors), who is making his sophomore Marvel appearance following a cameo in “Loki.” 

Majors delivers a stellar performance. After critical recognition for acting in “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” he rose to fame for his role in “Lovecraft Country.” His character Kang is a complicated villain not masked by makeup or CGI, so Majors carries the difficult task of displaying the multifacetedness of this new character. 

However, Majors proves that his character will become an intense and terrifying villain in the future. 

Rudd also brings his skill to the film. Known primarily as a humorous actor, Rudd finds a way to make a seemingly ridiculous superhero as charming as possible. Rudd has carried the past two films with his apt comedic timing, and although dealing with a worse set of jokes, this film is no different. Pfeiffer and Lilly also offer their fullest potential. 

The quality of these actors’ performances is especially astonishing when acknowledging the abysmal script. “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is Jeff Loveness’ initial feature-length screenplay after finding relative success writing for “Rick and Morty,” and his inexperience weighs the film down. Most of the dialogue felt clunky, unrealistic or a meager combination. If it weren’t for Paul Rudd being such an experienced comic, every joke would have fallen flat. The problems continue beyond dialogue. The film’s exposition-heavy beginning couldn’t save it from inefficiency throughout.

Additionally, after the film speeds through an introduction to a new character, Cassie, audiences know nothing of substance about her. Without a strong sense of her personality, it’s hard to feel anything when Cassie is put in danger. 

Cassie is not the only character neglected by the screenwriter. Although a titular character, Hope’s The Wasp feels like a last-minute addition. The film crosscuts between simultaneous stories, but each scene feels shorter than a TikTok. The speed at which they hop from each plotline may give some viewers the feeling of whiplash. Loveness’ history of writing for 25-minute episodes is evident through this recurring issue. With a final fight scene lasting for what seems like futile hours, the pacing is a central issue of the film. 

The script has its shortcomings, but multiple visual aspects also missed the mark. The editing in some places feels choppy and poorly planned. Many Marvel fans have long complained about the CGI featured in the franchise, but this film exacerbates the problem. At some points, it’s difficult to focus on anything that is not very poor CGI. The incredibly long fight scenes will leave viewers rubbing their sore eyes. 

One character is a floating head that makes it look like they’re straight out of a low-budget Disney Channel original, not a 200-million-dollar blockbuster. 

Even though a lot of the Marvel Cinematic Universe takes place in space, “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” featured an issue never seen before 一 it looked just like a set out of “Star Wars.” While it is brief, it is impossible to ignore. Peyton Reed has directed all three “Ant-Man” films, but this final installment lacks the visual charm of its predecessors.

As the 31st film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the beginning of a new era for the franchise, Marvel executives, directors and fans likely aren’t enthusiastic about the 69% drop “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is facing in its second week. 

As rumors swirl that Marvel has lost its spark and the DC Universe is here to take its spot in the public’s heart, Marvel cannot continue on this trajectory. Failure is imminent unless Marvel begins to return to its Infinity Saga prime. 

But that’s what they say 一 the bigger they are, the harder they fall.