Much ado has been made of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe being a bit all over the place in its fourth phase. It contained some of Marvel’s finest works (WandaVision, Spider-Man: No Way Home) but also some major missteps (Eternals, Thor: Love and Thunder). Consistency is key, and at least in the first entry of phase five, things are back on track! Peyton Reed returns to the directing chair to continue the story of Scott Lang once more in bizarre, action-packed comedy/sci-fi Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. This film gives everything from an iconic no-holed creature that drips goo, broccoli men, major Star Wars vibes, an impeccable father/daughter connection, Michelle Pfeiffer kicking ass, and the best MCU villain since Thanos!
Some time has passed since Scott Lang’s latest adventure. Hope (Evangeline Lilly) has been using the Pym particle to make real changes in the world. Scott (Paul Rudd) is living in blissful glee as he tours for the release of his new autobiography, aptly titled, Look Out for the Little Guy. He cannot seem to go anywhere now without being recognized or asked for photos, even if he gets mistaken for being Spider-Man. All this success, and yet, his aimlessness begins to wear on those around him. After a whopping thirty years spent lost in the quantum realm, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) tries adjusting to new family dynamics. Meanwhile, Hank (Michael Douglas) and Scott’s troubled, socially-conscious daughter, Cassie (now sixteen years old, and played by Kathryn Newton), have been working on a project to help map out the many mysteries of the quantum realm.
Their little side project ends up being vital to unfurling the many layers of this manic plot. Channeling Ricky and Morty, the entire family unit is thrust down the deep well of the quantum realm as the beacon Cassie had been using backfires. It sucks them in, and abruptly separates their group into two different factions. The first, Scott and his daughter Cassie, encounter the quantum-people, led by a bizarre group that beckons for them to drink their “ooze.” A crazed mechanical hunter that goes by MODOK (Corey Stoller) will be familiar to many comic book fans, sporting an instantly-recognizable visage; MODOK pursues Scott and Cassie relentlessly. MODOK also happens to be host to some of the film’s most hilarious and effective moments, especially near the finale.
The second group then consists of Hope and her parents, Janet and Hank. Janet actually plays a huge role in the film at large—her past connections to the realm and the movie’s eventual villain are more important than initially suspected. Hank’s obsession with ants and a sequence where he is forced to commandeer a flying vehicle are highlights of his character. As Janet guides Hope and Hank through her somewhat familiar locales, it becomes increasingly evident that she may be their only chance of getting out of the quantum realm in one piece. Quantumania seems to have purposely split the movie into these familial wholes just as each of them are facing bumpiness back in the real world. Giving these characters room to breathe and work together amongst one another ensures that these relationships are able to be recalibrated. I was afraid the distinct storylines would not flow together harmoniously, but the script from Jack Loveness performs a delicate balancing act that rarely falters.
While Pfeiffer is fantastic, Douglas has some especially wonderful line deliveries, and Paul Rudd has never been more in his element, the obvious stand-out performance comes courtesy of Jonathan Majors as villainous Kang. Since losing Thanos, the MCU has of course been in need of a new Big Bad—Majors not only fulfills this quota, but steals the show every single time he is onscreen. Kang’s harrowing backstory and his history with Janet will certainly not be spoiled here, a crucial element in Quantumania. Kang unleashing his fury additionally had the entire audience at my screening completely gobsmacked.
Explosive action gives way to a colorful, energetic finale that is never afraid to embrace the campiness ridiculousness inherent to the very concept of an Ant-Man. Thanks to the exploration of the quantum realm, the visuals soar and the humor is truly on point. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania surpasses expectations, easily becoming the best movie of the Ant-Man trilogy. For those weary about superhero fatigue or with hesitations due to the inconsistencies of phase four, Kang’s appearance signals phase five’s entrance in a big, explosive way!
Get ready for one super-sized adventure when Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania zaps exclusively into theaters on Friday, February 17th.