From a young age, Ant-Man has always been one of my favorite Marvel characters. The idea of shrinking down to the size of an ant was super cool and when portrayed in the cartoons, Ant-Man had a snarky sense of humor that I appreciated even back then. Since 2015 Paul Rudd has done an excellent job in portraying the failed thief turned wise-cracking hero. I’ve also loved the first two Ant-Man movies. But my heart sank when I saw the first trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Clearly, Marvel was taking Scott Lang and company out for a whole new adventure unlike the previous films and it didn’t look appealing to me at all. But then again, I thought “at least it still has Paul Rudd, so how bad could it be?” And while some will differ on the subject, but to my surprise, I ended up really liking this latest outing.
Unlike the other two films that came before it, which take place here on Earth, this sequel takes place almost exclusively in the weird world of the Quantum Realm. Up until now, we haven’t seen or heard much about the place. It was first mentioned in the original Ant-Man where it was revealed that Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) have been estranged because of her mother’s mysterious death years earlier. Hank then explains to Hope how her mother, known as the original Wasp, had disappeared into a “subatomic Quantum Realm” (whatever that means) while disabling a Soviet nuclear missile.
In the second movie in the series, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Hank began to receive messages from his “late” wife, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) proving that she was alive and yada, yada, yada – he ended up rescuing her and bringing her back home.
Now with Quantumania, it is revealed that despite Janet being away for 30 years, she has told her husband and daughter very little about what (and who) she discovered while in the Quantum Realm. And when Scott’s daughter, Cassie (Kathryn Newton) shows the family an experiment she’s been working on with Hank trying to communicate with the Quantum Realm, Janet becomes increasingly panic-stricken and demands that Cassie “shut it off”. But it’s too late. Soon all of them get sucked into this new world and become separated. A good portion of the film deals with the five trying to find each other and the second half trying to defeat a new foe – someone that Janet knows all too well.
Though this is an Ant-Man and The Wasp movie, it is Pfeiffer’s Janet who leads this story. And this former Catwoman proves that she still has moves! It is also here that we meet new character Lord Krylar (Bill Murray of all people) who is the Governor of Axia which is a city located in this universe where human-like people interact with robots and insect-like creatures (much like in the Star Wars universe). Like an old boyfriend Janet is afraid to introduce to the family, he is perfect for the role. And it turns out that Hank’s old protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) has been hanging out in this realm too. But the person that they all fear is Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) who states that as a conqueror, you just keep conquering and conquering until there is nothing left to conquer. And as it turns out, he’s not done yet! He wants to discover life “up there” on Earth and wreak havoc there too. Majors says his lines softly and with very little emotion but effectively to send chills up your spine.
So, while I would have loved to have seen another heist movie featuring Scott and Hope, I have to admit that I rather enjoyed this new film. I will admit that I think the reason for this is more due to the casting (loved seeing Douglas, Pheiffer and Murray once again) than the storyline. Similar to Doctor Strange and Multiverse of Madness, Quantumania not only shares a goofy title but also a weird plot. But this one isn’t nearly as dark or depressing. While it does follow in the typical Marvel playbook, it was nice to see another stand-alone Marvel movie that isn’t really directly tied to the other Marvel films. Yes, they are all connected (and we are reminded over and over again about events that happened in previous Avengers films), but you won’t find any character here from outside of the Ant-Man world. But stay for the two teasers during the credits to learn how that will change with upcoming projects.
(Main image: Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) (Marvel Studios)
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