Another forgettable cash-grab: ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’

(Graphic by Cole Bertelsen)

Editor’s note: The online version of this article is an extended version of the print article.

The latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was released on Feb. 17, and unfortunately is the perfect example of many criticisms of current-day superhero movies. “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is plagued with a forgettable story, paper-thin characters and a nauseating reliance on CGI.

As the third Ant-Man movie, audiences should be familiar with the character by now. The Ant-Man films have never been particularly memorable; moviegoers are likely to remember only certain entertaining jokes rather than the plot. 

In the first two movies, however, there was at least an attempt to present a reasonably coherent narrative. That is not the case here. If you care about consistent storytelling, this movie will frustrate you. This feels like a movie that was hastily written in one afternoon. 

As established in past Marvel films, if a character shrinks down small enough — to the point that they are smaller than an atom — they reach the Quantum Realm. 

In this movie, after less than 15 minutes in the real world, the main characters are sucked into the Quantum Realm where nearly the entire story is spent. Throughout the movie they come into conflict with Kang the Conqueror, a multiverse-destroying time traveler intent on escaping back to the real world. 

The few strengths of the movie are some of the actors. Paul Rudd’s charisma works overtime to carry many painfully bland lines. Jonothan Majors’ performance as Kang is impressively intimidating at several points in the film, showing this antagonist could have been far better if given an adequate script. 

This is a lazy story that regularly forces characters to make frustratingly illogical choices to build suspense. 

Janet, the first Wasp, was trapped in the Quantum Realm in a past movie, and it is revealed that she spent some of that time with Kang, working together to escape. During this time she discovers his intentions to destroy universes for some greater good and is then rescued by the other characters. Throughout most of the movie, she refuses to inform the other characters about any of this, because if she did much of the movie wouldn’t happen. 

For some reason, Cassie, Ant-Man’s daughter, has been given a shrinking suit, against her fathers wishes. The first movie’s plot was exclusively about keeping shrinking technology out of anyone else’s hands, but now a teenager is allowed to run around Los Angeles shrinking cop cars when she feels like it. 

Despite it being established that Cassie has a suit, she doesn’t activate it for quite some time in the Quantum Realm — even after nearly dying — until a fight scene because the writers wanted a dramatic reveal. 

Beyond plot issues, the world is full of glaring inconsistencies and conveniences. Somehow the characters can now breathe in the realm far smaller than oxygen molecules. All characters in the story are luckily located right next to each other in the realm infinitely larger than our own universe. Somehow, beings that look identical to humans evolved in this subatomic world because the writers wanted a Bill Murray cameo. It was also convenient that when Janet touched Kang’s time travel device, it played a highlight reel in her head of all the evil he’s done, otherwise she would have helped him escape. 

Despite being a title character, Hope, the new Wasp, barely has any impact on the story, only popping in to save other characters with her ability to fly. 

While presented as a hyper-intelligent conqueror, Kang regularly underestimates his enemies and chooses not to use certain abilities against the heroes that would immediately end the fight. He is also strangely at peace with being seen as an outright villain when he sees his actions as necessary. This could have been a more complex character, but is instead a generic mass-murderer. 

The film is visually confusing; it feels like things were thrown at the wall until something stuck. The world is a chaotic jumble with little thought behind it. I simply do not believe this Quantum Realm could be a real place, and it’s depressing that many CGI artists spent so long on something that seemingly had little thought put into it. 

It’s clear in most shots the actors are just standing in front of a green screen. This leads viewers to struggle to immerse themselves in the story when they are constantly reminded that none of it is real. 

Many that choose to watch this movie will find they wasted 2 hours and 5 minutes of their lives. Based on the movie’s record-breaking drop at the box-office, the vast majority of audiences have not enjoyed this movie. Go watch a better movie that you know you’ll like. It will preserve some of your hope about movie-making that “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” will surely take from you.