Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania (2023) Review

Quick synopsis: It’s a Marvel movie, you know what the plot is.

M.O.D.O.K looks fucking stupid. Sorry, I just had to get that out of the way before I start this.

*gathers notes and restarts*

Since Endgame, it feels like the MCU has been stagnating slightly. It’s doing the cinematic equivalent of setting up a lot of dominos, which will hopefully all tie together wonderfully, but at the moment it’s kind of uninteresting. Quantumania looks like it may end that, the next stage is set up so heavily that it needs to start being acknowledged soon.

First off, yes, this film has flaws. The visuals are a bit inconsistent. It’s both beautiful yet ugly, technically astounding yet a cheap mess. Everything looks green-screened, and the Quantum Realm itself is a bit bland. It’s a shame as there are moments where it is glorious to watch, where you truly get a sense of scale and wonder. But for the majority of it, it’s kind of bland. There was a chance to fill this world with colour, so that every scene pops off the screen, as it is, it’s just there. I mean, it’s still impressive that it was all created, but it still doesn’t look like a $200million budget film.

There was some controversy before Quantumania was released due to the recasting of Cassie Lang. Nobody was assuming that Abby Ryder Forston was going to come back due to being too young, but there was an assumption that Emma Fuhrmann would. I don’t know why they cast someone in Endgame when they were planning to look to recast if Cassie Lang came back. Secretly, I’m glad they did, Kathryn Newton is one of my favourite performers around at the moment, and she is a REALLY good Cassie. So yeah, I get why, and she is the better choice, I just, I think it’s a shitty thing to do to recast like that.

In terms of the other performers, the main issue is that Bill Murray feels wasted. I don’t want him as a main character, but having him in it then doing what they do with him feels like such a weird casting decision.

There are some people annoyed that Michael Pena didn’t come back. Luis was one of the most popular characters in both Ant-Man, and Ant-Man and The Wasp, with his rapid-fire delivery and vocal style of summing up events being a highlight. Truth be told, there wasn’t really a way for Luis to fit into this. If they did, then Luis would have felt unnaturally shoe-horned in and would have been weird. Part of this is because Quantumania does SUCH a good job in terms of pacing. Sometimes you can be waiting around for a lot of the running time waiting for the story to kick off, but it happens here incredibly quickly. Same with the way it ends. It doesn’t linger long after the story is resolved, they resolve the story, give a quick coda, then end it.

There is no Luis, but there is Kang (weak segue, I know), and Kang is a fantastic villain. Part of that is due to Jonathan Majors, he CRUSHES it. Josh Brolin was fantastic as Thanos, there’s no doubting that. But if they let Majors do what he is capable of doing, Kang could end up being better. Majors has such a screen presence, especially physically. He is a hell of an actor for the MCU to have going forward, and the concept of different multiverse versions of him is incredibly exciting when you think of the potential for Majors to show what he can do.

Now onto the big issue I have: M.O.D.O.K. I’ll admit, I’m not that familiar with M.O.D.O.K as a character, but I assume we’re supposed to take him somewhat seriously? It doesn’t help that when I look at M.O.D.O.K I don’t see a “Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing”, I see Krang from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It doesn’t help that the CGI is awful and just looks ridiculous. To be fair, I don’t think there is a way to make a giant human head look threatening, so there’s not much they could have done to help that. Well, they could have just kept the fucking mask on and NOT SHOW THE ACTUAL FACE. Do the reveal through dialogue instead of unmasking. That would then make it seem like the face has been disfigured, and let the audience wonder how badly it has been ruined by what it’s been through.

Overall, Quantumania is a bit like the last few Marvel films; entertaining enough, but won’t change your mind on the genre. On the plus side, you don’t need to have watched all the TV shows for the film to make sense, although Loki will need to be watched to understand the post-credits scene.

Ant-Man And The Wasp (2018)

Have you seen Infinity War? If the answer is no, avoid this, or just leave after the actual plot concludes. The final scene to this will make absolutely zero sense if you avoided Infinity War, and it seems like this film references Captain America: Civil War more than it does the first Ant-Man movie. It’s a shame as the first Ant-Man movie was a lot of fun and is severely underrated when people talk about the MCU. This one feels important, but in a way where it’s not going to be known how important it is until the next film, which is a problem with Marvel films lately, they’re not self-contained so the endings are usually the equivalent of “Tune in next time”.  You know what this reminds me of? When a massive video game has been released and a year later they release a few new levels as an expansion pack/DLC, it’s that. It doesn’t stand out on it’s own at all, it’s the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead to Infinity War’s Hamlet (Or The Lion King 1 1/2 to The Lion King if you prefer). But the thing is; it doesn’t even do that that well. It would be good if it had a few subtle background references to it running throughout. But it doesn’t, it comes in at big points in the film, but not often enough. So it somehow fails at even that. Okay, “fails” is a very harsh word to use, because if it wasn’t for the Infinity War stuff, I would consider this a great film, it’s funny, looks fantastic, has INCREDIBLY inventive action set pieces, and the performances are good.

Now Marvel villains are either incredibly amazing (Thanos, Loki, Killmonger) or completely forgettable (that guy, the other one, the yellow one). This comes soooo close to being the first one. She has a tragic backstory which makes her sympathetic, her motives are logical but she’s also terrifying, and she’s not just “the good guy, but bad!” which seems to be the general template to make a villain in Marvel films. But she’s not used enough, and her ending is woefully unsatisfying and seems like it came because the writer needed to get home early so just wrote “and then MAGIC!”. It’s a shame as one thing this does very well is it gives a lot of the background characters moments to shine, even if a lot of their moments could be cut and nothing would be affected (particularly Bobby Cannavale and Judy Greer, which is a shame as I love both their characters, I just wish they had more to do). The star of the show is still Michael Pena though, who maintains one of the best side characters they’ve created, which of course means he’s probably going to be run into the ground through overuse in the next one, or killed.

So should you see this? I’d say yes, but not yet. Watch it as part of a MCU marathon, it lacks enough context to survive on its own.