Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania review – A wild and weird romp in the Quantum Realm
The new film is a great way to get Phase Five of Marvel’s masterplan underway, and also works perfectly as a standalone adventure.
“What is this place?” asks a dazed Kang, the newest villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, at the beginning of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. This “place” is the Quantum Realm, the sub-atomic universe only glimpsed in the two previous Ant-Man films. A trippy, mind-melting world, it’s “outside time and space… a secret universe beneath ours”, according to Michelle Pfeiffer’s Janet Van Dyne, who spent 30 years trapped there, befriending Kang without knowing his tyrannical history.
As anyone who saw 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp will recall, Janet got out of the Quantum Realm thanks to her scientist husband Hank (Michael Douglas) and daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly), who overtook her mantle as the insect-sized hero Wasp. The world-conquering King (Jonathan Majors) remained behind, however, for once unable to bend time to his will. Until now, when Cassie (Kathryn Newton), daughter to Ant-Man’s Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), starts messing with Hank’s technology.
Directed by Peyton Reed (now on his third Ant-Man film and really hitting his stride here), Quantumania doesn’t mess around. No sooner do we learn that Scott has written a book, Look Out for the Little Guy!, about his adventures helping the Avengers beat mega-villain Thanos, he’s then being pinged into the Quantum Realm along with Cassie, Hank, Hope and Janet – who immediately goes into warrior mode. She’s been here before, and she knows what it takes to survive.
Filled with a menagerie of freaky beasts, the Quantum Realm is wild and weird. One creature has a broccoli stalk for a head, covered in dozens of eyes. There are aliens that look like giant flying stingrays and spaceships with jelly-like controls that you need to put your hands in, as if you were “stuffing a turkey”, says Janet. Even the buildings are alive and move around. For a place that MCU fans have dreamed about, Reed, screenwriter Jeff Loveness and the rest of the team have surpassed expectations.
The moment Scott and the others arrive, they’re made aware that “he” is coming for them. Kang needs to use Ant-Man to retrieve something to help him leave the Quantum Realm. Let’s just say he doesn’t ask nicely. While a variant of Kang (also played by Majors) was first introduced in Loki, the Marvel TV show that showed Thor’s mischievous brother crossing the multiverse, this is our first proper glimpse at him, and Majors does not disappoint. Intelligent and philosophical one minute, psychotic and terrifying the next, he’s every bit Thanos’s equal.
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Kang has already been set for 2025’s Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, meaning we’ll be seeing a lot more of him - but this is a very promising opening salvo. He’s not the only surprise, though. Bill Murray pops up as Krylar, a one-time freedom fighter who has a history with Janet. It’s not a huge role, but Murray fans will revel in seeing him slither his way into the MCU. Better still, there’s a reunion with one of Ant-Man’s former adversaries, squashed into a new form that gives off the same creepy vibe as those talking Kinder Eggs from the 1980s adverts.
This being an Ant-Man film, the always-likeable Rudd is front-and-centre, though the action spoils are shared around, with Lilly’s Hope once again showing what an agile hero she is. Some might carp that it feels a little too close to the Star Wars universe – with the Quantum Realm a cross between the Cantina and Maz Kanata’s hang-out – but Reed manages to put it all into the MCU blender with real panache. It’s a great way to get Phase Five of Marvel’s masterplan underway, though it works perfectly as a standalone adventure. The ants are back – and then some.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is released in UK cinemas on Friday 17th February. Watch the Marvel movies in order on Disney Plus – sign up to Disney Plus for £7.99 a month or £79.90 for a year
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