Ant-Man and the Wasp are back and it’s all Quantumania! Which means diving deep into the world of quantum physics and the endless possibilities of the multiverse. Long ago, Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) was imprisoned by his variants, but after a meeting of destiny between the exiled one and a lost Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) in the Quantum realm, a chance to escape was forged. While Janet had initially found companionship and trust with Kang, she discovered during the final stages of their escape plan how dangerous and how murderous the man was before her. In a dilemma of seeing her daughter again, and saving countless lives in countless timelines and worlds, Janet made the choice that most would expect, and destroyed Kangs travel machine that would have gotten both of them out of the Quantum Realm. If only Janet had spoken more specifically of the dangers that come with messing with the Quantum Realm, the oncoming conflict that team Ant-Man and Wasp would come across may have been able to be prevented. One question remains, does Ant-Man have what it takes to go head to head with one of the strongest characters the Marvel Cinematic Universe has ever introduced?
Picking up not too long after the events of Avengers Endgame, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has taken his victories as Ant-Man and contributions in the battle against Thanos all the way to pen and ink, releasing his own novel “Look Out for the Little Guy!”. Interestingly enough, this book has pre-orders available now for a real release come September 5th, 2023.
While Scott is soaking in his state of popularity across San Francisco, his daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) winds up in jail, which is apparently not the first time. Cassie has taken up a few of her father’s tendencies in working around or against the law, only she’s advocating for good causes like the protection of those who blipped back into reality without any homes. This is a really good point to bring up and something that would have been interesting to explore more. If Ant-Man is all about “looking out for the little guy”, it would be relevant and engaging to see more down to earth interaction with how Ant-Man has helped in aiding those who reappeared in a world that is much different than the one they left, as 5 years have passed. But Cassie’s efforts are a good way for the writers to put attention to those smaller issues of what’s going on in the world, while Scott focuses on a much bigger threat, covering a lot of bases for world-building and personality development of the characters.
It’s only natural that Cassie, especially during her time apart from her father during the blip, has some curiosities or passions about wanting to step up to do something right and fight for others. However, Cassie has a few more surprises for the audience, as it’s revealed that Hope van Dyne’s (Evangeline Lilly) father, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), has designed Cassie a suit similar to Scott’s Ant-Man outfit, but of course in the iconic purple that Stinger wears in the comics.
The conflict of the film springs into action when Cassie shows off an invention she had been working on while studying the Quantum Realm in her free time, you know like most teenagers frequently do when they’re bored. The “Quantum Satellite” could allow signals to be sent and relayed from the standard world of reality all the way down to the Quantum Realm. In a panic and without explanation, Janet (who was saved by Scott in Ant-Man and the Wasp) attempts to shut down the device before it sends out a signal. Before Janet could halt the activation, Cassie’s invention began to suck in all the objects in the room through a portal at its center.
Ultimately, the satellite pulls the group through too. The team has shrunken down smaller than ever seen before, revealing worlds within worlds throughout the Quantum Realm. The setting that the characters wind up in is vastly different than the areas and species that have been captured on screen in previous films, to which there is no firm explanation given. However, the assumption of why can be found in the calculation of how much they were shrunk down to. Furthermore, the “Quantum Satellite” that Cassie invented just seems to be a widely complex device that leads to tangible and yet “out of space and time” worlds, which for a teenager to manage finding the connection, even as a mistake, is very impressive, almost too impressive.
Separated in the Quantum Realm, Cassie and Scott are taken by unintelligible creatures who force the Langs to drink a red ooze, allowing the two to understand the creatures as if they were speaking English. In the immediate moment, some subtle dirty jokes are thrown into the writing, referencing how many holes Scott has and what dirty things are always on everyone’s minds. The same type of humor is shown in a celebrity cameo appearance by Bill Murray, who Janet had an affair with during her time stuck in the Quantum Realm, with Murray’s character, Lord Krylar, discussing that he’s human in “all the ways that matter.” The meeting with Krylar definitely made Hope and Hank a bit uncomfortable, but the conversation did not last very long when Krylar had his troops enter and attempt to arrest Janet for abandoning everyone and leaving the population at the feet of Kang. Pushing through Krylars’ guards, the trio escapes on his ship.
Scott and Cassie are warned of Kang, who has taken their land and killed their people, protesting that if the two humans traveled from where Kang did, then they were already being hunted. The hunters happen to appear almost immediately after Scott and Cassie are given details about the Conqueror and his army. Captured by Kangs’ hunters, Scott and Cassie are brought before M.O.D.O.K, who happens to be a deformed Darren Cross, Scott Lang’s rival in the first Ant-Man film, whom Kang saved and turned into a machine of destruction.
It was very odd in the way Marvel decided to portray the infamous M.O.D.O.K, between some odd CGI of Darren’s large face and having him essentially be a one movie character to throw away as Darren sacrifices himself to save the group by the end of the film. It feels satisfying now knowing what happened to Darren after Scott made him go subatomic in the first film, but to waste a character like M.O.D.O.K who could have been great for future films, it’s a bit disappointing. But with the multiverse now expanding in the MCU, maybe this M.O.D.O.K is not the only variant that will be featured.
But onto Kang, who manipulates Scott into shrinking and retrieving the device that Janet had enlarged with the remainder of her Pym Particles. Going through a probability storm of infinite Ant-Man’s and one Dunkin Donuts variant of Lang, Scott and his “possibilities” work together to save Cassie, but as they start to fall and tumble down, Hope flies in and aids Scott in the retrieval. Striking a deal with Kang to trade the device for Cassie, Scott and Hope meet with the Conqueror to make the exchange.
Of course, Kang does not come through on his side of the bargain and attacks Ant-Man and the Wasp, grabbing the device and leaving to begin the extraction of his empire and him out of the Quantum Realm. Kang had no reason for keeping Cassie, so it felt like the situation was written merely for pushing the rising action forward so that the climax can begin and so Ant-Man and the gang would have a bigger motivation to take Kang down instead of just letting things go. Cassie, being held by Kangs guards, uses her suit to shrink down and escape, giving her the chance to free the freedom fighters and their leader, Jentorra (Katy M. O’Brian). Jentorra and Cassie reach a spot where they can interrupt Kangs outgoing message of transcending from the Quantum Realm, with Cassie giving a speech that inspires a revolution against Kangs army. Witnessing this speech, Cassie seems to have a lot of potential at carrying the torch for future Ant-Man and MCU projects, maybe even becoming a young Avenger herself soon enough.
The big CGI battle begins as Ant-Man uses his Pym particles to get huge and destroy Kangs’ chances of escape, and Kang goes out to start killing freedom fighters and to go one on one with Scott himself. All the meanwhile Cassie is being chased down by M.O.D.O.K, who is driven by revenge but gets stomped on by Cassie, who leaves Darren with a message “It’s never too late to stop being a d***”, which is all Darren needs to completely flip sides and send himself right into Kangs’ shield as Hank appears with an army of super-intelligent ants which end up overtaking Kang.
In what is believed to be a victory, after Darren claims to be happy in dying as an Avenger, to which Scott awkwardly replies “Yeah, you’re in” the group race to meet with Janet who was initially being held by Kangs’ guards. Janet sees one last chance for the group to get home and opens up the portal back to Hank Pym basement. As everyone goes through, Ant-Man is about to take his step into the portal when Kang attacks from nowhere.
Scott, holding Kang off as he attempts to escape through the portal, starts to get a beat down by the conqueror that puts audiences on the edge of their seats, is this the end of Scott Lang? Well, Scott realizes he doesn’t need to win, that he only needs both of them to lose if it meant Cassie and the others would be safe. Hope comes through to help Scott fight Kang, and Scott uses more of his Pym particle disks on Kangs’ device that is powering the portal to step through, destroying it and absorbing Kang as he gets pushed back onto the device. With the portal destroyed, it appears Hope and Scott are now forever stuck in the Quantum Realm, but with the revolution succeeding and knowing Cassie, Hank, and Janet were safe, a very bruised and bleeding Scott and Hope seem to be at peace.
However, Marvel is not done with these characters yet and immediately reverses Ant-Man and the Wasp’s sacrifice of staying on the other side, by having Cassie so quickly figure out how to reopen the portal from the other side. The story could have used a bit more commitment to the risks it initially took which would have contributed to having a much stronger emotional impact on audiences.
Ultimately, it feels like the big reason why Kang the Conqueror appears in this film, as opposed to a bigger team-up project, is for Marvel to tie in the development of different timelines as seen in the DisneyPlus show, Loki, along with the scientific foundations of how space and time are different in the Quantum Realm, and how those two can intertwine just enough for the multiverse to make sense for the bigger story developing in this phase of the MCU. Time is no longer a straight line.
There is a drastic power difference between Kang and Ant-Man, but it seems, at least for this variant of Kang, they have massively reduced Kangs power. Will this Kang return? Will his variants pose a much bigger threat as the humans “touch the multiverse” more? After all, Kang the Conqueror revealed that his variants were worse than him and that only he could save everyone from his variants. Now with Kang gone, Scott contemplates if he made the right choice in seemingly defeating and destroying the Conqueror. Audiences will have to wait and see what Kangs’ variants bring in the next Avengers film, as well as the next season of Loki.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a fun Peyton Reed film that brings even more questions to how space and time work within the MCU, expanding the possibilities for new stories to unfold. Hopefully, the powerful stories and risks taken in the MCU thus far are not undone or rewritten by introducing more elements of reality not being all it was believed to be. Overall, the film is a 6/10, as there is definitely some room for improvement in the script.
The plot could have benefited from some stronger reasoning and explanation of Cassie’s sudden intelligence with Quantum Realm technology and Kangs exile to the Quantum Realm, along with how such tangible and physical realms are able to exist at such a subatomic level without being interfered by the existence of the base Earth reality. Furthermore, it is still an enjoyable movie to put on to watch the ways in which the MCU will expand. Quantumania is now available to stream on Disney Plus.
Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantanium Recap And Movie Review published on BigCityReview.com© 2023
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