It’s hard to believe but we are now in phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With this, the third Ant-Man movie kicking things off, it’s also the chance to properly introduce us to the next big bad of the MCU, Kang (Jonathan Majors) before we see him go on to tackle the Avengers in 2025 ‘s ‘The Kang Dynasty’ (although I’m sure he’ll pop up again before then). After a disappointing phase 4 though, I was nowhere near as excited about heading into a Marvel movie as I used to be. The trailer for Quantumania didn’t really excite me and I certainly wasn’t feeling Kang to be a worthy villain and successor to Thanos either. Thankfully though, some but not all of my concerns proved to be valid come the end of the final credits.
We join Scott Lang, AKA Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) at a point where life is so much simpler and enjoyable than when he was off saving the world with the Avengers. He gets his coffee for free, people recognise and love him out on the street (when they’re not confusing him for Spider-Man that is) and he’s even released a book of his memoirs. But according to daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton), he could be doing so much more to help the people of the world.
And then, before we’ve even had time to settle into our cinema snacks, Cassie has gathered together Ant-Man, Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Hank (Michael Douglas) to show her Quantum Realm mapping device, a deeply concerned Janet has demanded she shut it down, and they’ve all (along with an unsuspecting colony of ants that were in the room) been sucked into the Quantum Realm!
We’ve experienced the Quantum Realm before in previous Ant-Man movies where we learnt that Janet Van Dyne spent decades down in the subatomic universe before being rescued. It was also where Ant-Man was trapped during the snap. But apart from showing us how psychedelic it all looked, we never really saw much in the way of life down there. However, an opening scene in Quantumania shows us how Kang crash-landed into the Quantum Realm to join Janet during her time there. And we soon discover upon her return that the place is in fact brimming with life, full of wild and wacky concepts and creatures from the imagination of screenwriter Jeff Loveness, a former writer for Rick and Morty. But while Scott and Cassie have landed in one part of the universe, the rest of the family have landed elsewhere, and they all need to find each other in order to get the hell out of there. Especially as there’s constant fear and talk from the inhabitants surrounding ‘him’, someone whom everyone seems too terrified to actually name…
Aside from the pretty visuals, this first section of the movie is actually fairly dull. Despite throwing a bunch of weirdness and colour at the screen, the Quantum Realm just isn’t that interesting at first and the script does little to pep it up either. A decent cameo doesn’t even alleviate the boredom and just comes across as wasted. Everything is all just teasing the fact that Kang will soon be introduced, and you need to know that he’s pretty bad and pretty big news.
When we are finally introduced to Kang, and Janet brings us all up to speed on her time with him during her previous stint in the realm, I was actually pleasantly surprised. Turns out he is pretty bad and pretty big news after all. We learn what Kang got up to before arriving in the Quantum Realm, why he did end up there, what he’s been up to since then and what he plans to do when he gets out. And it is frightening stuff. Having not read the comics, and only experiencing the dull character shown to us in season 1 of Loki, I now finally appreciate just how complex, powerful and malevolent a character he is. And Jonathan Majors is outstanding in the role.
From then on, things got cool and interesting for a while, including a ‘probability storm’, where thousands of versions of Ant-Man all interact with each other and try to find a way to work together, but it does take a dip again for a while before eventually finishing things on a real high. One element of the story that I wasn’t expecting to enjoy quite as much as I did was the inclusion of killing machine MODOK, who provides much of the movie’s funniest moments.
Where the previous Ant-Man stories were much smaller, localised stories, Quantumania goes large to the point where it often feels like it’s losing its ‘little man’, family focus. When its core family of characters are together, it works well, but overall this did just feel like it was more concerned with introducing us to Kang and setting things up for his future within the MCU than anything else. That’s not necessarily a complaint though, as the two end credits scenes do set up some pretty damn cool and exciting things to come.
Web developer by day, with a movie and TV watchlist that continues to grow as much as my spare time reduces! My favourite movie is Inception and, despite what everyone says, I do not have a man-crush on Tom Cruise.