Over the years, I have given several MCU movies a pass because, at the end of the day, I had a good time. At the very least, I enjoyed myself for the running time. Today is the day that ends. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is not only not enjoyable, but it is actively bad. For a movie starring Paul Rudd as the lead, that’s really saying something.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is the third film starring these B-Team superheroes. The first two, while not reaching the heights of some of the best the MCU has to offer, were fun movies to pass the time and get some air conditioning in the middle of summer. Quantumania, on the other hand, does not even offer that much. And that’s not just because this one is being released in the Winter.
The movie begins with Scott Lang’s daughter accidentally contacting another universe, resulting in herself, her dad (Ant-Man), his girlfriend, Hope (the Wasp), and Hope’s parents getting sucked into the Quantum realm. While there, we find out that they were sucked in by Kang (Jonathan Majors), who plans to use Scott’s powers to escape the world and begin conquering others.
No Sense of Scale
For a movie that has many flaws, the absolute biggest is its lack of a sense of scale. It might sound like a minor issue but one of the unique qualities of the first two Ant-Man movies were their sense of scale. When you have characters who can get larger and smaller depending on what the situation calls for, understanding their surroundings is supremely important.
This is what made the final battle in the original Ant-Man, taking place on a Thomas the Tank Engine play set so memorable. In Quantumania, it seems the filmmakers completely forgot about this. In the CGI mush that is the Quantum realm, not only do the visual effects look bad, but we also have no real idea of what is going on around our characters. There is a moment when our leads are talking about how huge they are and I found myself completely dumbfounded. Looking onscreen, I would have had no idea they were in their large form if not for that line of dialogue. Which leads me to the next fatal flaw.
Even more so than some of the other MCU films, Quantumania is so heavy on the expository dialogue that it becomes tortuous. As a non-comic book reader and non-MCU TV Series viewer, I have found it increasingly difficult to follow the recent films. They expect their viewers to come in with a breadth of knowledge that is unreasonable for a franchise like this. Of course, building from film to film is normal but if I have to watch three television shows and have a deep understanding of the comic books, I am already checked out of your movie before I walk into the theater.
The one thing that Quantumania does have going for it is the acting by Paul Rudd and Jonathan Majors. Rudd is his usually quippy self, which brings some levity to the film, even if not every joke lands. Majors, though not as menacing as some other villains from the franchise, makes a strong impact in his character’s film debut. Unfortunately, these two are counterbalanced by the incredibly odd character of M.O.D.O.K., played by Corey Stoll. Genuinely one of the most baffling characters and CGI choices I have ever seen in a major blockbuster. This character singlehandedly made the film go from not very good to actively bad.
All in all, Quantumania is a mess of a film. If you are invested in the MCU and desperately need to be a completist, then sure. Go see it. If you are slowly but surely realizing that not every MCU film is a necessary watch, this is the perfect one for you to skip.