“It’s never too late to stop being a dick.”
Welp, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Five officially kicks off this week with “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” releasing in theaters. Directed by Peyton Reed and starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Douglas, and Kathryn Newton, it is the third “Ant-Man” film. As far as Marvel comic book movies go, it’s a largely forgettable flick with stunning visual effects aided by its comedic ensemble cast. But the natural takeaway for audiences will be the movie’s introduction of Kang the Conqueror, masterfully portrayed by actor Jonathan Majors.
We open with Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) enjoying life as a former Avenger, hocking his memoir “Look Out for the Little Guy.” Get it? He’s an Ant-Man. Little Guy. Yeah.
Scott continuously attempts to mend his relationship with his daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton), a do-gooder delinquent who spends time tinkering with scientific methods to send signals down into the Quantum Realm. Of course, Cassie never questions Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) about the Quantum Realm, a mysterious place beyond time and space where Janet spent much of her adult life while trying to get herself home. Secretive about what she knows lies hidden in the Quantum Realm, Janet tries to stop Cassie’s experiments but fails to do so before the entire family gets sucked down into the Quantum Realm with no way to escape.
This is yet another Marvel movie where the tired trope of recent years makes its way into driving the plot of the film: A central character does something foolish which creates havoc for their world for two hours of screen time while most of the original cast is separated from one another the bulk of the time. In this case, it’s Cassie trying to reach out to the Quantum Realm. Guess what? Someone answered Cassie’s call, and he’s not someone you should mess with.
As far as Marvel movies go, “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is highly entertaining with dazzling visual effects once the Quantum Realm is revealed in all its glory. It grabs your attention in small doses, like the appearance of new characters inserted for comedic effect, with Bill Murray, Katy O’Brian, and William Jackson Harper chief among them. Even the distracting Marvel fan-favorite MODOK assumes its rightful place in the MCU here, but it’s a forced endeavor at best.
When the gang comes face to the face with Kang the Conqueror, Jonathan Majors rules the moment, establishing a character that will take on the Big Bad form of the subsequent phases in the MCU for years to come. A new supervillain that rivals Thanos in his thirst to destroy every world he comes across, Kang is an ominous figure for most of the film until his motives are fully displayed. Majors is perfect in the role and deserves a lot of the credit that Marvel seems to be betting on in the near future.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” might be an overstimulated mishmash of an addition to Marvel’s long history of movies and television shows, but it is saved by Paul Rudd’s charm, Michelle Pfeiffer’s commitment to her part, and Jonathan Majors’ balance of sensitivity, viciousness, and bravado. The multiverse is just getting started.
Ticket Rating: 🎟🎟🎟