By Jason Delgado
Growing up as an avid Marvel comics reader, Ant-Man was always a character on the periphery of my experience. He was an OG Avenger but was never really given the spotlight. Even now, after three starring films in the MCU, no matter how affable Paul Rudd is, this is how I still view the character of Ant-Man, due to his small stature (pun intended) in the grand scheme of things.
I went to see Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania with low expectations, due to some negative reviews (e.g. the film is currently at 48% on the Tomatometer, but has an 84% audience score). I have also been less than thrilled with the latest phase of Marvel movies, however, I walked out pleasantly surprised by Quantumania. Moviegoers probably think of comedy when they think of Ant-Man, because of Rudd and the silly nature of the character, but that is not the primary focus of this film (although the jokes about slime, a character being obsessed with holes, and a surprise guest star were nice comedic touches).
Quantumania is good at building a fascinating, alien-like world from the microscopic quantum realm in which it takes place. This film reminds me of the weird creatures of the Star Wars prequels, but in a fun MCU way (with things like a broccoli-like creature and a character whose head glows when he reads minds), as opposed to the drab trade federation settings of the George Lucas galaxy from far, far away.
The acting standouts in Quantumania are Johnathan Majors as a menacing, yet layered, version of the next great Marvel villain, Kang the Conqueror, Corey Stoll as the strange, sad and murderous comic fan favorite M.O.D.O.K., Michelle Pfeiffer as the complicated Janet van Dyne, with secrets that she is keeping from even her loved ones, and the legendary Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym, who deftly and humorously navigates all of the turns in the way that only Douglas can.
This is not to say that Quantumania is a perfect film, but I enjoyed it for the light, set-up (in the latest phase of Marvel fare) that it is. The movie is a bit slow at times, and the many action scenes can blend in together for a tedious feel. For me, there is more good than bad with the excellent acting and escapist world building, but I can see how this film could be divisive amongst critics due to the uneven nature of it all.
Paul Rudd is a delight to watch in everything that he does. He brings the added dramatic layer of displaying a gigantic heart in the love and care for his family that has been displayed previously by his character in the MCU. The theme of making tough family decisions (by various characters) for the greater good of one’s kids (which parents in real life know all too well) ultimately helps to make this movie a worthy entry.
I give Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania three out of five hot sauce packets. It’s spicy enough to make you see stars.