Gaming Editor Louis Wright reviews Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, finding the film to be a disappointing start to phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2022) kicks off the highly anticipated Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with the franchise’s biggest whimper to this point. Dreadful on all fronts, this film sets a dour tone for the quality of these films going forward and struggles to leave anything other than a rancid taste and foul thoughts behind.
Throughout previous phases, the MCU has used films as setup for upcoming, larger, entries in the franchise. Thor: Ragnarok (2017) and Captain America: Civil War (2016) are both films that are used as springboards by later team-up movies to justify character motivations and places in the wider universe. However, both of these films had other aspects to them then just being fodder for later movies. Characters within them had arcs, the scripts were engaging, and they felt like it had a justifiable reason to exist on their own. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’s greatest failure, therefore, is its complete inability to have any meaningful reason to exist outside of its minute long end-credit scene.
In a word, the film is pointless. Whatever grander story the MCU assumes it is weaving is not impacted by this film’s 2-hour runtime. The only scene that matters could have just as easily been tacked on to the end of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) and been just as impactful. This complete mundaneness makes watching the film feel like nothing more than a waste of time and money. Nothing is gained from this movie and nothing is felt.
This great feeling of emptiness that the film carries aloft is ever present in all of its elements, none more apparent than the script. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania arguably champions the MCU’s worst script; an impressive achievement when assessing its competition.
A summarisation of this film’s screenplay can be made saying that every third word enunciated is either some variation of ‘quantum’ or a character’s name being screamed in varying levels of poorly delivered terror. No substance can be taken from this. It is bland, repetitive, unengaging on every level of its existence, and completely devoid of any semblance of thought deeper than a children’s swimming pool.
With the recent rise of AI chatbots, it is a wonder if Kevin Feige and director Peyton Reed did not personally have this script generated for them by a series of prompts and auto generated responses. A fair assumption can be made that a machine writing the script for this film would produce a result that not only feels more natural, but also carries more emotional weight and levity.
Throughout the film there is a distinct lack of any meaningful journey for any of the characters. Every character that is featured within the film, from the titular Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) to the villainous Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors), have no significant arcs and are entirely surface level in their presentation.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania features some of the worst character development ever seen in cinema. By keeping all of the leads completely static in their development and dynamics, no sense of growth is felt from any of them. Their motivations do not change, their dynamics do not expand or develop, and every single character present is forgettable at best. Static characters can work in a film, for example, demonstrating how the world around the character changes. However, as a character driven story that demonstrates one of the blandest sci-fi worlds to hit the big screen, this film is not one that can eloquently deliver a narrative where the characters do not change.
As a film that likes to present the illusion of consequences to its audience, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania cannot afford to have characters that are unengaging. It is entirely reliant on the audience feeling any sense of connection and endearment to its cast to elicit an emotional reaction. Therefore, by not portraying these characters, especially the leads, as having any semblance of emotional nuance, it is hard to connect to them and feel anything at the films climactic moments.
This especially stings when the foundations of solid character journeys are present in the film. Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton), daughter of Ant-Man and new superhero stature, starts the film trying to emulate her father, ignoring the impact his choices in engaging in corporate espionage before the events of the first film had on his life. While this could have resulted in an interesting and complex dynamic for the father-daughter superhero duo, it is not explored in any way and dropped almost as quickly as it is picked up. There is an unmatchable ability seen throughout the film to completely ignore any opportunity to present an idea that has substance.
The only aspect of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania that triumphs over all the others as a testament to this failure of a film is the quality of its special effects. Fundamentally the design and quality of this film’s CGI is the equivalent of a putrid pile of vomit that has been sitting on hot tarmac for the best part of a scorching July. No computer-generated element (which is essentially the entire movie) has any sense of weight or realism in its interactions with the real elements making the entire film feel cheap and rushed. An influx of memes have been made upon the release of the film comparing its visuals to the likes of Spy Kids (2001) and The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D (2005). These would actually be funny if not for the inherent tragedy that is found in their truthfulness. It is a testament to the poor conditions that visual effects artists endure that the work of low-budget children’s action movies from the early 2000s are able to be more visually appealing than the latest entry of the world’s biggest cinematic franchise in 2023.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is quite possibly the MCUs worst foray to this point. Being a culmination of all of the worst elements of the MCU in recent years it is entirely symptomatic of the apparent death march of the seemingly terminal Marvel Cinematic Universe which, if this film is any indication of that, cannot come soon enough.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is in cinemas now
For more MCU reviews, check out these articles from Redbrick Film:
Review: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Review: The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special