Actually, Scott Lang is in superhero retirement. Not only has the likeable ex-con ditched his Ant-Man suit, he’s even written the notorious aftermath book about his adventures with the “Avengers” (the publicity stunt: “Look Out for the Little Guy” is supposed to be out September also be available for real). But Lang’s family — his partner Hope aka “The Wasp”, her father Hank Pym, inventor and first wearer of the Ant-Man suit, and Scott’s teenage daughter Cassie — isn’t easily swayed from superheroism. She continues to research one of the greatest mysteries of the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” (MCU): the quantum realm.
The Quantum Realm has actually been part of the Ant-Man story since the beginning, and yet almost nothing is known about it. With the help of Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) invented technology, it is possible to make yourself so small that you find yourself in the subatomic realm, the quantum realm that you cannot leave on your own. Above all, however in the last Avengers movies something else turned out: With the help of this world – however – time travel is possible. And that’s a big deal even for the MCU. Especially since Marvel has already announced that the next major enemy of the “Avengers” will be in “Phase Six” of the Marvel master plan (ruling us, propelling us into theaters and binding us to the MCU forever) will be none other than “Kang the Conqueror” – a time traveller. So, does director Peyton Reed’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” finally make us understand quantum space?
This fantasy world is so limitless that it becomes arbitrary
At least it puts us right in the middle: “Jumanji” style, the Ant-Man family is involuntarily sucked into quantum space and spewed out separated from one another in a world they only know is extremely dangerous. Though Hope’s mother, Janet van Dyne (the almost distractingly attractive Michelle Pfeiffer), was stuck here for 30 years of her life, she’s kept quite a secret from that time. No wonder that the family of insect superheroes is surprised by the quantum realm, to say the least: strange (and somewhat muddy animated) landscapes such as lava rivers with flying mountains of stones, futuristic cities or deserts reminiscent of Dalí’s surrealism. Above all, the craziest creatures also live there: from the talking jelly bean wobble to a broccoli man or humanoids reminiscent of “Star Wars”.
This can be entertaining, such as when a pink flobber creature squeezes Scott Lang about the “holes” in his body (“seven pieces!”). But in the end, the constantly changing backdrops and characters seem chaotic and thrown together a bit carelessly. Whether science fiction, superheroes or fantasy, even invented realities should be coherent.
A world that is miniscule and makes time travel possible and houses every imaginable being and landscape and technology – that’s just a deus ex machina as place. And worse: lazy storytelling. Why should anyone care what’s going on there? The fact that the superhero family actually meets the future Marvel boss “Kang” seems almost silly. Not exactly the big-screen start one would have expected after Thanos. Especially because Kang’s sidekick is the cyborg MODOK, of all people, a comic veteran who was transferred to the quantum realm with a fresh backstory. MODOK is actually a cruel super genius, but unfortunately comes across as Humpty Dumpty.
It doesn’t help that Paul Rudd as Ant-Man puts on his best faithfully naïve look that Evangeline Lilly as Wasp delivers an absolutely believable superheroine. In the end, “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” loses itself in a lot of trifles.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, USA 2023 – Director: Peyton Reed. Book: Jack Kirby, Jeff Loveness. Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Douglas. Disney, 125 minutes. Theatrical release: February 15, 2023.