The Good and the Bad: A Review of ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ (Spoilers) | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

The first entry into Marvel’s Phase 5, ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ is everything we’ve been hoping for—finally, there’s a direction to it all, the introduction to the next big bad and a clear image of where we’re heading to for the next couple of titles; something phase 4 had lacked which made it all seem directionless and scattered.

But with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 47% (not the best metric to judge a film I know), there’s clearly something divisive here, something enough to prevent a generally positive consensus concerning a pretty established figure in their cinematic universe. Some believe it to be the worst Marvel film since ‘Eternals’, while others, stand by it as the perfect jolt to the system, for a franchise that has observably been on the decline since ‘Endgame’. 

Here are my thoughts on Marvel’s latest title. A disclaimer however, I will not be talking about the CGI or any visual aspect of the film. The product as a whole is stunning, and any lapses can be attributed to overworking which has been a problem thus far. This has to change if they want to prevent the continuation of their downward trend, but for this specific movie, there are more glaring issues to discuss.

And remember, watch out for the little guy.

The Good

Jonathan Majors. He is that guy, a worthy successor to Thanos, a villain to truly fear, one that will surpass the previous universal threat. And no I’m not simply talking about what he brings to the table based on his comic-accurate skills and repertoire, I am mainly referring to Jonathan Majors and his outstanding portrayal of Kang the Conqueror. 

Prior to ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ we’ve only gotten a glimpse of him at the end of Season one of ‘Loki’ with his appearance as ‘He Who Remains’. There we saw a Kang who was eccentric, flamboyant, over the top even, but you knew that there was a sociopath within, a madness encased within a calculating genius who would take any measures necessary to save the universe; even if it meant eliminating others. 

In the film, we see his next iteration. They share the same goal, but omitting the flair and the showmanship, we are instead introduced to a cold, stoic Kang who holds within himself flashes of anger and rage that he keeps simmering below his calm demeanor, a fire that shows itself every now and then. He is imposing and intimidating, every action he takes, every word he says, his very physique screams authority, and I dare say he is the best villain Marvel has ever produced. We’ve only had a taste of what he can do especially with the introduction of the Council of Kangs, and I’m ecstatic over what these other versions of him can and will do. 

The Bad

Playing it safe. For a while now, Marvel has been playing it safe. It’s always a good ending, there’s always a way back, a way out of an impossible situation. They’re heroes after all, it’s integral to their character to surpass great odds and come out on top. But it’s become too predictable, there aren’t any real stakes and no real threat; tension and fear for the lives of our favorite heroes will never exist if we’re assured that they will always come out on top without any loss. They’ve done it before; the Avengers brought back half of the universe, but at the cost of Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), Tony Stark (Ironman), and in a sense, Steve Rogers (Captain America), Peter Parker (Spiderman) prevented the collapse of reality, but in exchange lost everything and everyone dear to him—why can’t they do it for Ant-Man.

In the trailer, beaten and bruised, and at the mercy of Kang, Scott Lang says “I don’t have to win. We both just have to lose”—obviously teasing his death, I fell for it, it made sense, it had to happen. But unfortunately in the film, backs against the wall, the Wasp comes in to save the day, catching Kang off guard and blasting him to his Multiversal power core, taking him out of the picture, and keeping him down for the count. 

I love Scott, he’s the average joe turned hero, but in all honesty, he should have died. Throughout the entire film, his character has centered around him being the reluctant hero. He has stopped being one; he mainly attends social events with Hope and he has become a popular author, having written a book about his past exploits. And even in the quantum realm, he’s focused on finding his way home rather than addressing the threat of Kang, believing that it was not his battle—he only ever truly joins the struggle because he had to save Cassie. That is his essence as a hero, she is the reason why he is one, any villain or threat that he fights is one that may directly or inadvertently affect her. 

What better conclusion then would be to his story than saving Cassie and his loved ones at the cost of his life and the future of spending more time with them after losing five years due to the snap? It’s the perfect conclusion to what could have been the Ant-Man trilogy, giving him the best possible sendoff while allowing him to truly be the hero that he is. Additionally, since we’re in the theme of the introduction of new characters and the passing of torches, that would also make sense, seeing as Cassie is in the process of becoming a hero in her own right. And in the larger scheme of things, what better way to introduce the next threat, the next big bad, than by having him take out an Avenger? It’s a missed opportunity.

Although if I had to point out one good thing from the direction Marvel took, it would be the anxiety that Scott felt after beating Kang and returning to his old life. The fear of a looming unforeseen threat and the doom that was prophesized to him is reminiscent of the same fear Tony Stark felt after the events of the first Avengers movie. It’s that thought at the back of his head that this isn’t over, and that maybe by defeating Kang, he has doomed humanity—well done, I’ll give you that.

Half-baked and nonexistent character arcs. As their films have gotten bigger in scope, Marvel has developed this bad habit of putting in too much—there are so many narratives and character arcs stored within the larger story, that these become overshadowed, and forgotten altogether. With so much to discuss, and with so little time, such shortcomings in writing are understandable—but it has come to the point where oftentimes, characters undergo such drastic changes within a few moments that we don’t understand how they’ve come to this point—it just magically happens, or sometimes because of an unrealistic and lazy explanation.

M.O.D.O.K. for example, is a machine made purely for destruction, he is after all the ‘Mechanized Organism Designed Only For Killing’. Moreover, he is also revealed to be the disfigured version of Darren Cross (Yellowjacket), the antagonist in the first Ant-Man film, after his defeat which saw him get shrunk down into the quantum realm. Fueled with rage against Scott, and hardwired as a being made only to kill, he is always in pursuit of the Langs and the Van Dynes, whether by his own volition or as ordered by Kang. But after his defeat at the hands of Cassie Lang, she tells him to “stop being a dick”—and in his next appearance, he betrays his master and is now suddenly a good guy. So “stop being a dick” is now the key to the heart of all villains, impressive storytelling. 

But even worse, at times, there’s no character arc, no story, and no development. Certain figures are just put in to play themselves, to act as placeholders that can be replaced and it wouldn’t affect the story as a whole; they’re just there.

Hope van Dyne (The Wasp) is the most apparent culprit for this. There’s no point in her being in the film. She just shows up with her little blasters and is there to kick ass and look cool. She doesn’t face any resistance, and isn’t placed into any real conflict that allows her to develop and flesh out her character—we learn nothing about her at all. That would work in an ensemble film like ‘Infinity War’ or ‘Endgame’ where there are too many characters involved that it wouldn’t make sense to do a deep dive into all of them. But in a relatively small-scale project compared to those two, this shouldn’t happen, especially to one of its leads. To be honest, why is “The Wasp” even included in the title, make it “Ant-Man: Quantumania” if you’re gonna treat her like a side character.


Images courtesy of Marvel Entertainment