Film, TV + Theatre

‘Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania’ review: Shaky start to MCU Phase Five



By Marissa Chin

IMAGES: Marvel Studios
‘Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania’ review: Shaky start to MCU Phase Five

It only takes a couple of searches on the Internet and a slew of social media reactions to find out that the reception for Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania has been nothing short of a dumpster fire. At the box office, the film suffered its worst second-weekend drop in Marvel’s history and scored a 48 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the second worst-rated film next to 2021’s The Eternals.

While Ant-Man has always been perceived as an underdog to the larger MCU franchise, it generally received positive reviews from critics and fans. As someone who thoroughly enjoyed the Ant-Man franchise myself, I had been eagerly anticipating the threequel—especially since they were giving the little guy the big task of kickstarting MCU’s Phase Five


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I had the pleasure of watching the film in GSC’s Aurum Theatre to try out the brand-new Sea Salt popcorn flavour. While the seats were really comfortable and I enjoyed the popcorn (great for those without a sweet tooth!), I didn’t have the same experience with the film. Perhaps I should have known this when I found out Michael Peña and his iconic voice-over narration would be missing this time around…

So why do I feel Quantumania may be signalling a huge problem for the MCU? Read ahead for my full review. 

Warning: spoilers ahead!



Quantumania sees Scott Lang (AKA Ant-Man), his daughter Cassie, Hope (AKA The Wasp), Hank and Janet Pym getting sucked into the Quantum Realm where they meet the powerful Kang the Conqueror who plans to escape after being imprisoned there. Already, it’s a very different type of plot than we’re used to seeing. For one, MCU fans loved the Ant-Man films for how they seemed self-contained, with issues that generally didn’t affect the overall MCU narrative. Nonetheless, the Quantum Realm has been teased multiple times throughout the films so I knew we would be making a full-fledged trip down there soon. It still didn’t make this change any less jarring as I felt like I wasn’t watching an Ant-Man film.

The characters are the same but the tone of the movie was completely changed. Perhaps this can be attributed to the fact that Rick and Morty writer Jeff Loveness penned the script in his MCU debut. Giving the keys to the MCU Kingdom to a cartoon show writer—not shooting down Rick and Morty, it’s just a different ball game—might not have been the right choice. 

For a two-hour film, the plot also felt empty. After being sucked into the subatomic universe, the five characters are separated from each other: Scott with Cassie, and Hope, Hank and Janet together. And then for the entire movie, they just…walk around and find their way back to each other? When I think about the plot, it really strikes me how nothing really happens. They encounter small mishaps here and there but it doesn’t amount to anything and the characters move right along—whatever is a threat also doesn’t make that big of an impact (more on this later). 

There is an underlying father-daughter plot that was genuinely endearing to watch. I wished Quantumania took its time to flesh this out as the relationship between Cassie and Lang was the most enjoyable for me to watch. However, the script left no room for any prominent character development to take place or raise the stakes between the two.

Quantumania also suffers from a lot of plot discontinuity issues that made it all the more messy and frustrating. In the past films, the Quantum Realm looked like a universe of geometric shapes, pulsating and glowing organisms, and amoeba-like creatures—which makes sense. Now, we’re made to believe that there are not only other lifeforms down there but ones that look like us, broccoli, and even their own functioning cantina and skyscrapers.

Secondly, Janet’s powers—that she seemingly absorbed while in the Quantum Realm for 30 years—have completely vanished in this film. In Ant-Man Two, we see her help Ghost from phasing in and out of reality by touching her with glowy fingers in an exciting mutant tease. In Quantumania, we don’t get any display of such powers nor is it ever mentioned. These are just some of the plot problems that I had trouble with, although there are other plot holes this film does not answer either. 

I always thought that Marvel put a lot of focus and detail into crafting a carefully-thought narrative. Indeed, this was why the Infinity Stones saga did so well and had a great payoff. Watching Quantumania, I had this creeping feeling that the Golden Age of Marvel was slipping away. Paired with the horribly quippy Thor: Love and Thunder and the campiness of Dr. Strange: Multiverse of Madness, the signs have been there for a while now but I still had hope. Unfortunately, Quantumania was the one that broke me. 



As I mentioned before, I thought the previous look of the Quantum Realm worked a lot better. You really got a sense of how small these characters were while they were down there, with huge plants towering over them and even giant tardigrades floating above them. Those scenes made it believable for me that Hank and Janet really were in a subatomic universe full of micro-animals. This Quantum Realm, however, took a great turn. I’m not the only one who seemed put off by this as many viewers have criticised it for looking like a knock-off Star Wars film, with its own cantina to boot. It was also giving Shark Boy and Lava Girl vibes, especially when MODOK appeared and I audibly laughed in the cinema out of secondhand embarrassment. Some things are just better staying put in the comics.

Most importantly, I just don’t believe in this world. I don’t believe that our characters are in this strange universe, I don’t believe that this world functions in the way that it does, and I don’t believe in the civilisations and structures that have been placed there. I know it’s not fair to compare the two but when I was watching Avatar Two, I completely bought into the wonder and world-building of Pandora. With Quantumania, everything just felt flat. There were scenes you could tell were obviously filmed in front of a blue screen and even the actors themselves didn’t perform their best to sell it. Like Cassie said when they arrived, I found myself questioning the same thing throughout the film: “Where are we?” 

Of course, this lack of finesse in CGI is a long-standing issue with Marvel, as many VFX artists have come out to expose the gross mistreatment they’ve been dealt with. The result of this couldn’t be clearer in this film. So far, Quantumania has to be the silliest-looking film in the MCU roster.



It hurts for me to say this in a Paul Rudd-led film because I do love the guy but unfortunately, I felt the characters were severely neutered. They were, as Gen Zs would say, “not giving”. I didn’t enjoy Lang’s reputation as Ant-Man was almost ridiculed not just by Cassie but the entire family. As MCU fans, we’ve seen Scott’s growth and root for him so it’s hard to see him being treated like this when he literally saved the universe. Yes, he wrote a book about it and probably talks about it a little too much but give the man a break! 

Which brings me to my next point: I want the old Cassie back! I kid you not, there was a scene at the beginning of the film where she tells her father, “I know you saved the universe, but what did you do after that?” It’s the kind of moral-high-horse-sitting behaviour in a poorly-disguised act of virtue signalling that makes her character not very likeable. The concept of child geniuses and prodigies in the MCU is also tired and overused; I really hope we can steer away from this soon. 

Furthermore, Hank is reduced to a crazed old man obsessed with ants and Hope is so underutilised in the film, it wouldn’t matter if she wasn’t in it—and this is the female protagonist we’re talking about here. She and Scott barely have any scenes together, which made the climax where they profess their love to each other out of place.  

I was also getting increasingly agitated with Janet in this film because she spends half the time keeping the truth about Kang away from Hope and Hank which makes no sense at all. She would give them a flimsy excuse that she’s trying to “protect” them when the truth wasn’t even that big of a deal—they’re superheroes, and they deal with big bad villains all the time! Also, I found it strange how she didn’t want to share her history with Kang but was ready to spill about her sex life instead. Not only did it undercut the sweet love story between Hank and Janet in previous films, but it was also just a poorly-landed joke (there are a lot of those in the movie). And, if she really was so afraid of Kang, why did she readily send Scott down to the Quantum Realm in the second movie? I digress.

Fortunately, the standout for me was Jonathan Majors as Kang. In the comics, Kang is one of the most powerful villains and I could definitely feel the gravitas from Majors’ performance. He was affable yet menacing; empathetic yet logical. My only criticism of Kang is that Quantumania didn’t do a good job of relaying his intentions. I found his character motivations to be unclear and surface-level. All he really says is that he’s made to conquer but we don’t know why or how he even does it. Surely, the energy bursts we see from him are not enough to end several worlds and even kill multiple Avengers. And yet, the movie tries to drill into our heads that Kang is an all-powerful and all-seeing being that can destroy anyone with a flick of his wrist. I will have to see how future content roll-outs intend to draw out Kang’s arc but for now, he hasn’t fully convinced me as Thanos 2.0.



Quantumania could be signalling a huge problem in the MCU. With no standout characters such as the likes of Iron Man or Captain America taking the mantle into Phase Five, and established superheroes such as Thor and Ant-Man failing to ignite the once-bright spark, Marvel needs to go back to the drawing board if they ever want to replicate the success of the Infinity Stones era. I have mentioned the superhero fatigue before and it seems Marvel is now in the thick of it. As I sat there in the cinema for a two-hour film filled with silly-looking CGI, under-developed characters, and a poor script, I felt exactly what Janet, who got lost in the Quantum Realm for decades, felt: stuck for an eternity with no way out.

Final rating: 3/10


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