Ant-Man has been vital when it counts, despite the ongoing gag of him being lesser known than most of the other Avengers. He was the ace in the hole for Team Cap in Captain America: Civil War and his escape from the Quantum Realm in Avengers: Endgame opened the way for time travel and ultimately defeating Thanos. Despite his big impact in the overarching Marvel Cinematic Universe, his solo films have been fairly smaller, self-contained adventures. That all changes with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania which kicks off Phase 5 and paves the path for what’s to come in massive ways. And no, I’m not just taking about Giant-Man. The 31st film in the MCU takes some big swings and while not every hit is a homerun, Jonathan Majors conquers the film (and our hearts) as Marvel’s next big bad, Kang the Conqueror. Phase 4 was rather lackluster in its presentation on both an individual level and the bigger MCU picture if I’m being honest, but Quantumania delivers an entertaining first act of what’s to come and leaves fans with plenty to be excited about.
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is happy just spending time with his family after missing out on so much time following being stuck in the Quantum Realm. His daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) is now 18 and all grown up, and despite his absence from a lot of her life, Scott’s previously rebellious attitude has fallen not so far from the tree. With the help of both Hank (Michael Douglas) and Hope (Evangeline Lilly), Cassie has developed in secret a device that can send signals into the Quantum Realm. Despite her good intentions of just wanting to learn more about the mysterious place, the device ends up transporting Scott, Cassie, Hank, Janet, and Hope into the Quantum Realm, where Kang (Jonathan Majors) has been lying in wait and looking for his own means of escape.
Phase 4 was all about introducing the concept of the multiverse into the MCU, and with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania we’re starting to move forward along the path it created. The most exciting and interesting aspect of the film is the introduction of Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conquer. Loki briefly introduced us to a variant of him known as He Who Remains but now we get to see a little more of what makes him the MCU’s next big bad. Majors is an imposing presence and dominates every moment he is on screen. Kang carries a sinister bravado in the way he speaks and acts. He’s earned that confidence as a technologically advanced person from the future who has lived outside of time. When Scott warns him that he’s an Avenger, it doesn’t phase Kang one bit. He’s killed so many of them that they all sort of blend together he explains. The way in which Majors talks so matter-of-factly sends shivers down your spine. He speaks as if he’s already won and that there is nothing anyone can do to change that fact. Not only that but he has the power to back up his claims, throwing Ant-Man and others around as if they were inconsequential. It’s fitting that Kang the Conqueror would make his debut in an Ant-Man film because to him, everyone is just an ant waiting to be squashed under his boot.
Outside of Kang, Quantumania does an average job at exploring the Quantum Realm. At times the film feels more like its from the mind of James Gunn with its wacky alien creatures. Some, like a talking blob who is self-conscious over the fact that he has no holes, are hilarious comic relief characters. Not all the humor lands, though. And given how high the stakes are this time around for Scott and his family, the Marvel Studios formula of forcing its style of humor into every film is growing more tiresome. It’s difficult to experience the full implications of Kang when characters are cracking jokes every other minute. The MCU doesn’t need to go full DCEU on the drama, but I believe there is room for a more serious tone.
There is also a lot of setup and exposition in Quantumania. It’s the first film of a new phase so that is somewhat expected, but the monologuing can get a bit cumbersome. Much of the film is split between Scott and Cassie and then Hope, Hank, and Janet when they get separated after entering the Quantum Realm. There’s a lot of ground to cover and sometimes the film can move at an ant’s pace. Kang is handled marvelously but most of the other characters, Scott included, feel like they’re riding in the backseat. There’s also the introduction of M.O.D.O.K, a killing machine with an oversized head hunting Scott and Cassie in the Quantum Realm. The character is great and the liberties taken with the comics to incorporate him into the MCU are fitting, but the visual effects on his face should have used more work. I’m glad they kept the same visual style from the comics for the character, though. It just takes some getting used to.
After a mediocre Phase 4, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania has me once again excited at the future prospects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It doesn’t quite reach the lofty heights set by the Infinity Saga, but it sets the story on the right path forward. Jonathan Majors showcases that Kang will no doubt be a force to reckon with, and with the idea of there being multiple variants of him across the multiverse, I couldn’t be more excited about seeing him in the role. This is no doubt Kang’s multiverse, and we’re all just living in it.
The 31st film in the MCU takes some big swings and while not every hit is a homerun, Jonathan Majors conquers the film (and our hearts) as Marvel’s next big bad, Kang the Conqueror. Phase 4 was rather lackluster in its presentation both on an individual level and the bigger MCU picture if I’m being honest, but Quantumania delivers an entertaining first act of what’s to come and leaves fans with plenty to be excited about.