Phase Five kicked off with a bang last weekend with the release of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Despite divisive viewpoints on the film’s quality, one aspect Marvel fans have united over is an appreciation for Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror, our next Avengers-level threat!
We finally unraveled the mysteries of Janet’s (Michelle Pfeiffer) time in the Quantum Realm and Kang certainly made an impact in his theatrical debut. I loved his backstory with Janet and Kang’s presence certainly got me hyped for Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.
However, I don’t think Quantumania was a good Ant-Man trilogy capper. Scott, Janet, and Kang were amazing while Hope (Evangeline Lilly) and Hank (Michael Douglas) had great moments, but there were some major missed opportunities in Quantuamania that could’ve wrapped up the trilogy better.
Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton)
Cassie Lang may have been the intended heart of Quantumania, but I think she fell a bit flat. To me, the biggest missed opportunity in the film is Cassie’s casting. Kathryn Newton steps in for Emma Fuhrmann, who briefly played the role in Avengers: Endgame. In that movie, Fuhrmann’s reunion with Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang was an extremely touching moment, with Cassie’s grief and disbelief palpable thanks to the talented actress playing her.
Many were surprised when Cassie was recast in December 2020. Kathryn Newton is certainly a bigger name, but I thought she was miscast as Cassie. Although Newton is an incredibly talented actress in her own right, her portrayal of Cassie came across as bland and one-note, lacking the necessary chemistry with Paul Rudd that previous actresses had. Although the movie hinges on Cassie’s relationship with her father, in those scenes I found myself missing Fuhrmann and even Abby Ryder-Fortson, who played the role in the first two films.
In addition to the recasting, I felt the character was let down by the film’s dialogue, direction, and story decisions. One of the biggest mistakes was not bringing Ryder-Fortson back for even a cameo. She was a bright spot in the first two Ant-Man films and I would’ve loved to see her in a flashback set during the Blip. The mishandling of Cassie overall meant the central relationship in the film lacked the emotional resonance it needed.
Hank and Janet (Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer)
Hank and Janet were a lot of fun together after being separated for so long. I still wish we could see them in their heyday but I liked their banter here, particularly during the escape from Krylar. What I loved most was finally seeing Janet’s Quantum Realm history!
Her mysterious past with Kang was revealed in a pretty satisfying way, although I expected Janet to have a stronger arc in the second half of the film. With her own guilt and many Quantum Realm citizens blaming her for Kang’s tyrannical rule, I thought Janet would rise up to help them and take responsibility for her actions in a major way. Instead, she just opened a portal and left as soon as possible, putting herself before the Quantum Realm’s people once again.
It was nice to see a lighter side to Hank in this film. I was concerned we wouldn’t see any ant action in the Quantum Realm, so I truly enjoyed his super-smart ant army coming to save the day in the finale. But I always wanted to see Hank and Janet suit up together one last time (alongside Hope, Scott, and Cassie) in an epic action sequence with the entire Ant-Family. Hank’s ant army was the character-defining moment I wanted, but it still feels like a major missed opportunity to not see the entire family fighting together for even a single second.
Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly)
On the subject of missed action sequence opportunities, one thing about Hope really bothered me in Quantumania: why didn’t she grow giant too? We saw Hope go giant in What If…?, which was an epic moment that I was waiting to see in live action. After being sidelined for most of Quantumania I thought she’d get a gigantic hero moment and go big with Scott, but instead, that scene went to Cassie.
Cassie is known for growing giant in the comics, but Hope deserved that big moment even more. This trilogy has established Hope as Scott’s partner in both life and super heroics, but in Quantumania she doesn’t really get anything to do. I did love Hope helping Scott in the Multiversal Core and she got an epic entrance in the finale, but once again, she didn’t get any kind of character arc.
For example, I would’ve loved to see Hope’s reaction to her variants in the Core. I thought her role here was a major step down after her equal partnership with Scott in Ant-Man and the Wasp and Avengers: Endgame. Hope felt more like a sidekick than ever before in Quantumania, which was a strange direction to take her in.
The Quantum Realm
The Quantum Realm itself was brought to life with incredible visuals. It was nice to explore different regions and meet so many different alien characters. However, none of it felt unique to me. While the Quantum Realm isn’t exactly the same as Marvel’s cosmic planets, it felt like a Star Wars rip-off in some areas.
The humanoids, animals, and locations pretty much all looked like something from the Star Wars franchise. Even the half-cooked rebellion plot mimicked Star Wars projects, right down to the rousing blue hologram speech pulled straight out of Andor. The resemblance made the Quantum Realm feel bland and boring to me. I did like the idea of buildings and ships being alive, but the idea was only used for a few jokes.
I wish we had seen more of that kind of creativity rather than copying Star Wars rebellions, cantinas, and alien warfare. As a non-Star Wars fan, the lack of originality in the Quantum Realm made me wish we’d never explored it – even though I’ve been waiting to see more of the Quantum Realm since the first Ant-Man film eight years ago.
Missing supporting characters from previous Ant-Man films
In fact, while Quantumania delves deep into the Quantum Realm, it leaves behind everything that made the Ant-Man films fun in the first place. None of the supporting characters from the first two films return (besides Jimmy Woo in a quick cameo). While I understand what Peyton Reed was trying to do with Quantumania, the entire movie is a hard departure from what everyone loved about the first two.
Familiar side characters from the previous two movies are completely ignored. Cassie’s mom and stepdad are nowhere to be found despite being welcome sources of comedic relief and the family who actually raised Cassie. Scott’s ex-convict friends have completely disappeared, despite him starting a business with them pre-Blip. Losing Michael Pena’s Luis is the greatest casualty of all, as his fiery humor and impeccable delivery gave him several standout moments in the previous films.
I’m not saying these characters needed to come to the Quantum Realm, but why weren’t they included as cameos in the beginning or ending montages? What were their lives like during the Blip and what’s their relationship with Scott like now?
Missed opportunities in Quantumania
I still think Quantumania could’ve been a great Ant-Man film despite its major changes. But without the emotional family ties that we loved in the first two films, there’s nothing to center the story. Cutting out the heart of the first two movies was a big mistake and Quantumania doesn’t do enough to fill the emotional void.
Even in the action department, the growing and shrinking scenes in Quantumania are nowhere near as clever and fun as the sequences we saw in the other films. It’s odd to go from hilarious gags with shrinking everyday objects to simply punching people while tiny in a setting as strange and unpredictable as the Quantum Realm.
To me, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania lost all of the charm in its pursuit of Avengers-level stakes. If your third film’s story takes away everything that supported the first two, maybe that’s not the story that should be told. I would’ve definitely preferred a typical Ant-Man movie that continued the family story on a smaller scale instead of trying to set up the next Avengers antagonist. Overall, with the lack of purpose for characters like Hope and little emotional resonance between Scott and Cassie, I’m left disappointed by the missed potential of Quantumania.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is currently in theaters. Have you seen it yet? What are your thoughts on the film? Let us know on Twitter or in The Cosmic Circus Discord. And if you haven’t already, check out our Quantumania episode of The Cosmic Circle!