“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania:” a sizable disappointment

“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania”; a disappointment that’ll leave Marvel fans wishing for more of the “old” Marvel. This most recent entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe serves as the third and seemingly final part to the Ant Man trilogy, along with introducing the new Thanos-level villain of the MCU, Kang The Conqueror. Quantumania also serves as the kick-start to Phase Five of the MCU.

With all that being said, it’s a true shame to say that I found this film to be quite disappointing. It’s not like Marvel hasn’t had lackluster shows or movies before. I saw “Thor: Love and Thunder”, I saw “Eternals”, and I’ve unfortunately seen “She-Hulk”. None of those films really struck me with a sense of disappointment like Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” did for me. Maybe that’s because of how much I loved the first one as a kid, and how much promise this film was given.

I’ll get into the good of the film before I discuss the bad of it all. The Quantum Realm itself has a really colorful and interesting design to it, unlike a lot of other MCU entries. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” was another film that helped improve on this lack of color, which I went into in my review of that film. However, I was really glad about the color brought to the film because it wasn’t as gray and dead as the last “Ant-Man” film. I felt that “Ant-Man and The Wasp” was such a desaturated and lifeless film when it came to the color and setting it was in, which is why I was so happy that this film took a more vibrant direction than previously.

Even more praise should go to Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror. He was so charismatic and fit into the role of Kang right off the bat. Throughout the entire film we are merely teased with his potential of being the most dangerous man in the MCU to date. We are given a few scenes where his full potential is shown, which is supposed to garner some dread for future films like “Avengers: Kang Dynasty” and “Avengers: Secret Wars”. Through the few brief glimpses we get, it is apparent, but not as much as it should have been in the final act.

By the end of the film Kang feels like he had gone out with a whimper, rather than a roar. Nonetheless Majors was a threatening and intimidating villain to kickstart, and pretty much lead this next phase of Marvel films. I will give the film props for not making him joke around or anything of the like, as that would have just ruined his portrayal completely.

Of course Paul Rudd as Scott Lang AKA Ant-Man is as great as ever in this film. He’s funny, energetic, and brings a performance full of heart and humor as always. He’s the everyday man within the MCU, but in this film he is showering himself in all the glory of being an Avenger to the public. I thought that would be a real interesting side to see of him, especially due to his undying fanboying over the Avengers since his first appearance.

However, this aspect isn’t necessarily cut short, rather it’s minimized. We see him boast to Kang and try warning him against messing with him because he’s an Avenger, but that’s as far as it goes aside from the beginning of the film. His real conflict lies in his relationship with his daughter after all the time he missed while being “dead” for five years in “Avengers: Endgame”.

All in all, Rudd did a good job for being stuck in a film that is more concerned about a set-up rather than its titular character. The newcomer of this film happens to be the re-casted, grown-up version of Cassie Lang, played by Katheryn Newton. She is the daughter of the famed Ant-Man and is motivated by her sympathy for the unfortunate and downtrodden.

Now I don’t try to bash on actors and actresses a whole lot, but when I say that her performance was more dead and mono than the kid from “Black Adam”, I mean it. I was hoping for a likable and charismatic character to some day get the torch passed on from her father. However, all we got was a character who had barely any development and too many one dimensional lines and scenes to leave any lasting impression.

As for characters like Hope Van Dyne and Hank Pym, they barely felt like characters to me. It was disappointing how sidelined these characters were in a trilogy that they helped begin. With Hank Pym being the stern mentor to Scott like he’s always been, he turned more into a side character on the same level as Luis in the previous “Ant-Man” films. There is a scene where he says something very unlike his character. A scene in which we get our politics from the film, and he mentions Socialism being a good thing that we can learn from. While it’s not verbatim what he says, it’s still very close to it. You’d think that the guy who fought the Soviets would steer clear of practices like Communism and Socialism, right?

As for Hope, she is still in action during this movie, but she doesn’t have much of a story. Previously, we’ve seen her as a jealous daughter and a determined hero. There’s barely anything to say about her in the film. Now we only see her as the supporting character to who really is the Wasp of the title, Michelle Pfieffer as Janet Van Dyne. Michelle Pfieffer, at the expense of other characters’ stories, really shined as the Wasp in this film. We were given much needed backstory to her time in the Quantum Realm, and what life was like for her as she survived. We don’t get to see a whole lot of it, just the important parts that play into the plot of the film. She has a specific relationship with Bill Murray’s character in the film,

Lord Krylar, who by the way is completely wasted in the film. He’s barely even a character, he’s more so just a Bill Murray cameo. Anyway, Pfieffer did a pretty good job on portraying the Wasp in the film, considering this is really her first time to get to play the character in full compared to the previous film. In many ways, Pfieffer could be labeled as the true main character of the film.

By god is M.O.D.O.K. such a waste. Now I won’t get into who plays him, as it is a spoiler of sorts. Though I will say they did portray his character as a joke, which is probably the only good way to portray him in live action. The problem is just that he’s such a non-character in the film. More like a minion for Kang, and his arc isn’t even that good. It’s rushed and crammed into the final 20 minutes of the film with no lead up or hints to it. He is funny however, which is his only saving grace in this fire-lit trash can of a film.

There are some other things that shook me wrong while watching this movie that I just have to address. For example, there is this subplot in the film that feels so out of place and forced in. We see the people that Kang controls in the Quantum Realm, and we are introduced to a group of rebels that are against the Conqueror. I felt absolutely zero empathy for their cause. It just made me root for Kang to win more.

Even more so, these are characters that are in place of other characters from the previous “Ant-Man” films like Luis and the ex-cons, or Cassie’s parents. Where are they? It’s also worth mentioning that the CGI is bad, and very apparent when it is. As we keep getting Marvel content, we keep seeing a downgrade in the quality of CGI, among other things. That is unfortunately to be expected from a franchise that keeps lowering itself into more quantity over quality. I unfortunately have been becoming more understanding that Marvel just isn’t as good as it once was. They keep releasing mediocre or disappointing projects that should be real easy hits. It’s truly a shame that there isn’t as tight of quality control that there used to be.

All I can say is hopefully “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is good, otherwise I may just be done with Marvel. As someone who was hoping that this “Ant-Man” film would be just as good as the first one, I left the theater disappointed. There were times that I actually felt so uncomfortable because of the cringy dialogue or story. I seriously don’t recommend viewing this in the theaters. However, if you are a Marvel fan then this is still required viewing going forward, so I still suggest waiting for the Disney+ release. “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” runs two hours five minutes and stars Paul Rudd, Jonathan Majors, Katheryn Newton, Evangeline Lily, Bill Murray, Michelle Pfieffer, and Michael Douglas. Released on February 17, 2023, and out in theaters everywhere.