The Avengers composed of a disparate group of determined outliers from the norm forged by extremes, even amongst their varied backgrounds and abilities Scott Lang was on the fringes, a former petty thief who found himself a superhero through circumstance and happenstance and so became the Ant-Man, able to shrink himself to tiny dimensions or expand himself to great size but never losing touch with his roots.
His daughter Cassie now a teenager, brains, enthusiasm and a disregard for safety run in the family, for she has been experimenting with the technology which makes the suit work to make contact with the Quantum Realm, offering a demonstration which horrifies Janet van Dyne who was lost in that dimension for three decades and which brings an unwanted response from the other side.
Pulled across the barrier and finding themselves in the Quantum Realm, it is not what any of them expected nor what Janet had led them to believe, hosting a world populated by many species oppressed by the technocrat warlord Kang, a man who benefitted from Janet’s scientific knowledge during her previous residence and who now sees her return as the opportunity to escape his own imprisonment.
Set under strange skies far from the familiar skyline of San Francisco, Marvel’s domination of the box office seems likely to continue with the thirty-first film in their cinematic universe as the Empire of the Ants enters a new dimension with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, directed once again by Peyton Reed and written by Rick and Morty’s Jeff Loveness.
The returning cast including Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer as Scott “Ant-Man” Lang, Hope “Wasp” van Dyne and her parents Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne, they are joined by Freaky’s Kathryn Newton taking over the role of Cassie Lang, Z Nation’s Katy O’Brian as resistance fighter Jentorra and Lovecraft Country’s Jonathan Majors as Kang.
A soft-spoken monster of singular purpose who in the first film of Marvel’s fifth phase already foreshadows the menace to come which will succeed Thanos and the Infinity Saga, the Multiverse Saga launched in the previous phase expands to new arenas, the Quantum Realm a place of mushroom forest and pillars of lava, floating jellyfish and stingrays and vast amoebas, landscapes and lifeforms wilder and more dynamic even than those of Guardians of the Galaxy, and reaching deeper into time.
Conspicuously shorter than all the phase four films save Love and Thunder, where Quantumania succeeds is in not stretching itself to exhaustion and in the comfortable performances of familiar faces, Rudd now making his fifth appearance as Ant-Man and his third as lead while newcomer Bill Murray’s louche Lord Krylar is relaxed as he settles in for cocktails with the established cast and the equally iconic MODOK makes his big screen debut, the outlandish setting a suitable environment for his swollen ego.
With new species, technologies and environments, Quantumania occupies a totally alien space, Marvel once again reinventing their franchise to reduce the slope of diminishing returns, though with visuals recalling Star Wars and Dune and little complexity to the shenanigans of the plot other than overthrowing the evil emperor the decline may be gradual but is perhaps still inevitable, requiring an urgent seismic change to shake things up if the series is to continue its unchallenged reign.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is currently on general release and also screening in IMAX