Director Peyton Reed returns to the big screen with his latest MCU entry, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023), bringing along a lot of elements fans of the character have loved – with a few notable omissions. The most significant change is that most of this movie is CG, as Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), and Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton) find themselves in the Quantum Realm. While all of the MCU movies feature a ton of visual effects, it’s always more noticeable when the entire world the characters are in is a place that basically can’t exist in the real world. Yet, the fundamental elements of the first two Ant-Man movies are still present, so there is enough for fans of those to find joy in the latest entry.
Newton takes a central role in this story, as Reed and writer Jeff Loveness focus on the relationship between Cassie and Scott following his absence in her life after being trapped in the Quantum Realm following the events of Avengers: Infinity War. She has been working on a project with Douglas and Lily that surprises both Rudd and Pfeiffer early in the story. They’re pulled into the Quantum Realm, where secrets Pfeiffer had been keeping hidden come to the surface. In this strange place, the five meet the anticipated mega-villain of Phase 5, who debuted on the MCU show Loki (or, at least a variant of did).
Jonathan Majors arrives as Kang the Conquerer (a title Major seems to be adequately wielding this year, as his name is featured in many releases, including the upcoming Creed III) and completely steals the spotlight. He has been a clear talent to watch since The Last Black Man in San Francisco, and this is no exception. Kang is intended to fill the void left by Thanos at the end of Avengers: Endgame, but only time will tell if he can live up to the Mad Titan. However, judging by his appearance in this movie, he is off to a good start. Majors is undeniable in the role, and brings a huge range of emotions to the character. He isn’t afraid to be a little silly while still bringing a strong sense of pathos and menace to the character.
The Ant-Man movies have always focused on relationships, and this one is no different in that regard. Along with the Cassie and Scott story, Quantumania focuses on the rift between Hope, Hank, and Janet, now that she has returned. If the comic book elements or the humor don’t work for you, there is a possibility that the family dynamics will. However, if that doesn’t land, then you will probably not enjoy the first film of Phase 5. Lucky for me, I did!
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is in theaters on February 17.
Rating: Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy.