One of the saving graces of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that neither the characters nor the filmmakers take it all that seriously. The Ant-Man series is probably the least serious of the various franchises, owing mainly to the casting of Paul Rudd, Hollywood’s favorite everydude, as the titular superhero who can shrink to the size of a raisin without losing his strength. However, the third installment takes place entirely in a sub-atomic corner of the multiverse, which has come to dominate recent Marvel scripts, and there isn’t much of the real world to react humorously against and so, despite a surprising extended cameo by Bill Murray, Corey Stall as a big head, and some throwaway lines, the overall production feels heavy-handed and over-extended dramatically. Maybe that’s because the whole purpose of Quantumania is to introduce a new villain, Kang (Jonathan Majors), to the MCU. As such, the movie is more about brand-bulding than storytelling.
Again, family ties is the theme that holds it all together, with Michelle Pfeiffer reprising her role as Janet, the mother of Ant-Man’s romantic partner, Hope, alias the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly). Janet spent some 30 years in this pipsqueak universe and is sucked back into it along with Ant-Man, the Wasp, Ant-Man’s daughter (Kathryn Newton), and the inventor of the shrinking suits that the two superheros wear, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), who is also Hope’s father, after another of Pym’s inventions goes on the fritz. Why they’re there isn’t entirely clear, but I assume it’s to give Pfeiffer another role worthy of her heritage. However, once they are there, the generic sci-fi character of the landscape and the “creatures” that inhabit it just compound the viewer’s confusion since there’s nothing recognizable on which to hang your relative understanding and provide Ant-Man with tools to ride and wield as weapons. True to the PR spirit of the production, Kang is the most important screen presence, and while he does little more than act threatening and speak in stentorian tones, the movie only captures your attention when he’s on hand. But the seriousness of Majors’ performance also acts as a huge drag on the story, which itself is so poorly extrapolated that I couldn’t find it among the loud, busy action set pieces. Something about “destroying timelines”?
Which isn’t to say that Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is not my kind of movie—in fact, it isn’t, but I enjoyed the earlier two more than I usually enjoy MCU films. Also, I wasn’t necessarily disappointed, which just goes to show how low my expectations were. Mostly, I just felt perplexed, because you know the next one will have something to do with saving humanity and I will be lost as to motivation, so low expectations are called for again.
Now playing in Tokyo at Toho Cinemas Nihonbashi (050-6868-5060), Toho Cinemas Hibiya (050-6868-5068), Marunouchi Piccadilly (050-6875-0075), Shinjuku Wald 9 (03-5369-4955), Shinjuku Piccadilly (050-6861-3011), Toho Cinemas Shinjuku (050-6868-5063), Toho Cinemas Shibuya (050-6868-5002), Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills (050-6868-5024).
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania home page in Japanese
photo (c) Marvel Studios 2023