Movie Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania - The Fantasy Review

Movie Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Nathan‘s Review of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

It is always a weird experience being a bit “late” to a piece of pop culture. With something as big as the latest Marvel film, it is nearly impossible to not hear reviews, opinions, and the latest discourse about what is or is not working for the MCU. And, with something like the latest Marvel movie, not seeing the movie its opening weekend means that you are definitely late to the party.

So, as I sat down at my local AMC to watch Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, I already had preconceived ideas about what this movie was going to be like. I had heard that it was bad – like “the MCU is definitely in danger” levels of bad. Every Rotten Tomatoes score, Metacritic review, and CinemaScore rating told me that I was in for a painful two hours of my life.

But I can honestly say, as I walked out of the theater, that this latest iteration of the Ant-Man franchise was not bad. It wasn’t good, but it also was not nearly as painful as everyone made it sound. Maybe this was just because I walked in with my expectations sitting in the sub-basement, but I had a good time. The CGI and visual effects were not nearly as distracting as I was led to believe, there were some pretty cool action sequences, and the movie didn’t drag on for nearly three hours. If you walk into it kind of expecting something akin to Thor: Love and Thunder – shallow, full of the just-so-of-grating brand of Marvel humor, but also kind of fun, you’ll enjoy Quantumania.

Review of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

The surprising thing is, however, that for a movie as shallow as Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the more that I have sat on my feelings, the more complex and complicated my thoughts become. In many ways Quantumania has given me just a little glimmer of optimism about the future of the MCU as we move our way into Phases 5 and 6, while also being yet another warning sign that the “Great MCU Experiment” is crumbling under its own weight.

But let’s start with the optimism.

I think the best thing that I can say about Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is that Jonathan Majors is not only just good as Conqueror Kang – he is great. Disney and Marvel have a major get on their hands with Majors*, and I’m excited to see how we continues to develop the various multi-versal iterations of Kang as we move into this next storyline. Majors is legitimately threating and terrifying, while also imbuing Kang with just enough charisma, pathos, and emotional depth so that he feels more than just a villain that twirls his mustache. As long as Kevin Feige and the MCU team don’t fail him with weak writing, Jonathan Majors and Kang could really inject some much needed energy into the MCU.

*MCU loyalists will already know that Majors made his MCU debut as Kang in the first season of Loki on Disney+, but for many MCU fans this will be their first wonderful introduction.

And with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the MCU finally seems to have a focus again. I’ll write a little bit below about where the Kang stuff fell a bit short for me, but this movie finally made clear what the arc for the franchise really is. Phase 4 has been rightly criticized for feeling aimless; we got so many movies and tv shows over the past 3ish years….and it seems like nothing really happened. I cannot help but think back to the 2000s remake of Battlestar Galactica where every episode told us that the Cylons had a plan, but there really wasn’t ever a plan. Kevin Feige was our real world Cylon – he kept saying things will come together and then these larger connections never materialized. Quantumania finally sets a direction forward, and it is a direction that I am highly anticipating.

Related to that, it was so nice to continue a franchise. The MCU has been on kind of a roll of making sequels with Thor: Love and Thunder, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Quantumania, and the upcoming final Guardians movie and The Marvels. For too long it felt like all we got was origin stories with nothing to show for it. While Ant-Man has long been my least favorite MCU franchise, it was nice to get a villain origin story rather than yet another person discovering they have super-powers.

So that’s the good. This was the first indication that Marvel is righting the larger ship with a fascinating new villain (played by a fantastic actor) and an actual threat.

So what didn’t work for me then?

Well, as an actual, stand-alone film Quantumania has nothing really going for it. The writing is a bit hacky (I made the comparison to Thor: Love and Thunder above, and much of the world-building was lazy and reminded me of Halloweentown – which is not a compliment here). None of the characters have real arcs or development. We know that Scott wants to be a dad; we know that Janet feels bad about all of that time she spent in the quantum realm; etc. etc. The only purpose that Quantumania has for existing is to introduce Conqueror Kang and kickstart the larger narrative. So, while Marvel should be praised for finally starting a long-term narrative (as I did above), this movie doesn’t really have any other reason existing beyond that. There aren’t any satisfying resolutions (except for one deus ex Wasp-ina kind of ending). It is almost like Marvel selected the Ant-Man franchise to introduce Kang only because it is so vanilla and they could do whatever they want with it (I don’t read the comics, so I am sure there were other reasons as well!).

Review of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

And the problem with this is that this movie felt like the season finale of your favorite serialized TV show – it sets up the threat for what comes next. What I am conflicted about, and what I am really hesitant about moving forward, is that unlike a TV show that comes back 3-12 months after the previous season (the big fantasy shows like Stranger Things and House of the Dragon excepted), we might not get pay-offs for this storyline for years. The next two Avengers movie aren’t set to be released until 2025, and that is barring no further delays. At first, I walked out of the theater absolutely energized about Kang and Jonathan Majors, but then I just felt exhausted thinking about how long I would have to wait for any kind of payoff. I don’t expect Guardians Volume 3 to have much Kang stuff in it (with Gunn trying to wrap up that franchise and then bolt to his head-honcho gig at DC), and so at the earliest the next we will get is the second season of Loki, which is due out this summer – and then after that who knows how long we will have to wait.

I get that this has how it has always been. It took over four years from Iron Man to The Avengers, and a lot longer after that to finally get to Endgame. But I think there are some really important and significant differences between Phases 1-3 and Phases 4-6 here.

First, the first few phases were much more intertwined than what Marvel has been putting out recently. Characters were constantly popping in and out of each other’s movies, and there was the Coulson and Nick Fury characters to connect everything. Marvel seems to have lost that. In the beginning of Quantumania Scott mentions how much he loves being an Avenger….who even are the Avengers right now? When was the last time we saw Shang-Chi or even heard from him? And that movie was how long ago?

And this takes me to my second major difference about the “modern” MCU – it is so much bigger and more expansive than it ever was before. For a while there it seemed like every minor character was getting their own show or spinoff just to create more MCU content. Like, as much as I liked Agatha on Wanda-Vision, I’m not sure I need a whole show about her. As the more “central” MCU entries are punctuated with these side projects, the over-arching narrative really slows down. The glut of MCU content also means that Marvel knows that most people aren’t watching every MCU related product (unlike in Phases 1-3 where anyone interested in the Avengers and Thanos stuff probably had seen all of the movie), and so they have to reintroduce everything. As I mentioned above, Quantumania works because of Kang, but MCU die-hard already knew Kang from Loki. Marvel had to repeat itself here because there are probably a lot of casual fans of the movies who don’t watch all of the shows.

The MCU was set up as this hybrid franchise that leaned into both the strength of film (individual, satisfying stories) with television (expansive story-telling). It turns out that Marvel may have finally reached its peak, as Thor: Love and Thunder, Wakanda Forever, and Quantumania clearly show. The first two were (relatively) close-ended stories that had nothing to do with the larger narrative, while the latter only worked in service to the larger narrative. Marvel has lost the balance between creating movies that work in-and-of-themselves while also progressing the arc.

And this is a problem because as a culture we have changed our media habits since Phase 1 MCU. Phase 1 started before television streaming services and the popularization of the binge watch. In the last 15 years we have become more impatient with our media. We demand things now, and we want to be satisfied. Movies like Thor: Love and Thunder or Quantumania aren’t satisfying because the former is too disconnected from anything, while the latter doesn’t have any satisfying pay-offs, and now I have to wait 3 years for that payoff.

So, after so many words, how do I feel about Quantumania and the start of MCU Phase 5? I’m conflicted. I want to be optimistic about the Kang stuff, but also see the MCU project continuing to collapse in on itself.

Whatever happens, I will be watching.

Related to our Review of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

My name is Nathan and I'm currently getting my Ph.D. in archaeology in the US, but in my freetime I absolutely love reading any kind of fantasy book (and watching way too much TV). So I guess you could say that during the day I like to escape into the past and in the evening I like to escape into other worlds! Review requests can be sent to You can also find me on twitter (@nathan_reviews) and TikTok (nathans_fantasy_reviews).

Back to top