The Phase Five of the MCU has officially started with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. The film serves as the introduction of Kang the Conqueror, the main baddie of the Multiverse Saga, as well as officially kicking off the franchise's multiverse tale that will span the next few years. As a result, the Ant-Family is now facing its biggest threat yet. With all of that, is the film worth watching?
Is Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania Worth Watching?
The first two Ant-Man films have always been viewed as palette cleansers in the MCU as the stakes were low and none of them were world-threatening like what we've seen in the other entries in the franchise. With Quantumania, it suddenly became a huge departure from what we've accustomed to as the Ant-Family now has to face a bigger threat than what they can imagine.
The film started with Scott Lang's life after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Life seemed to be happier for him as he is now also a book author and has a loving relationship with Hope van Dyne. However, his relationship with Cassie has been rocky due to his five-year absence when the blip happened.
After some set-up and character moments in the beginning, the rest of it is set in Quantum Realm where Scott, Cassie, and the Pym/van Dyne family were forced to go on an adventure and face their biggest threat yet with Kang the Conqueror, who Janet has some mysterious history with back when she was stuck in that world.
It is no secret that the film is a set-up for Kang the Conqueror as the next big threat in the MCU. Jonathan Majors was given a task to introduce the character and make a compelling case on why we should look out for him as he is set to ravage the multiverse in the next few years. Fortunately, he was up for the challenge and even surpassed expectations as he gave a terrific performance as the big baddie.
Besides Majors, the other secret weapon of the film is actually Michelle Pfeiffer, who was fortunately given a larger role this time around and it's not just an appearance where she is required to show up on set for a week. She was given a lot of material and made Janet van Dyne a much more interesting character than ever before.
Without giving the specifics, there's a significant moment in the middle of the film where Majors and Pfeiffer were acting opposite each other and it reminded you that you are watching two of the greatest performers on screen making a case on why they're talented and also show what acting is.
The film also dabbled a lot in science-fiction/fantasy world-building since it is set mostly in the Quantum Realm and it is a world that we've never seen explored in the MCU. In that aspect, it did work for the most part and they embraced a lot of its comic book roots even if it goes too bonkers and fantastical for someone's liking.
After all, they introduced M.O.D.O.K. in the film and it's shockingly impressive that they found a way to bring in the character and make it sense with its weird physical appearance. However, I do have some nitpicks about the character's arc although that would require me to discuss some spoilers which I won't do here.
Just like what other reviewers already have pointed out, certain moments in the film felt like Star Wars, especially in the third act due to its atmosphere. I'm not sure if it was coincidental or they were compelled to take inspiration from it due to its necessity of world-building and director Peyton Reed worked on two episodes of the second season of The Mandalorian.
There were also decent arcs for the characters. While the writing could have been punched up a bit, they were still able to sell the idea and effectively give us an overview of what they were going through, even if it's set in a world that is full of CGI creations. There is still some emotional investment all throughout and I wish there was more of that to make it complex.
If there's a main issue of the film, it is the visual look for certain parts. Considering that the majority of it is set in the Quantum Realm, it is expected that it will be surrounded by CGI and the audience has to be asked to believe that the environment is real for the characters even if it's obvious that they were all in front of a green screen.
There were several scenes throughout the film where it became too apparent that they shot it in the Volume, which is usually a helpful tool for the filmmakers, but it felt like a hindrance in this case since some moments did not sell the believability that the characters are in the fictional world. It didn't ruin the film overall, but it does hurt its visual look.
The film also felt too overwhelming at times due to its very dense world-building that may put off some people, especially those who are not literate in the comic book world or someone that doesn't an easy palate with fantasy and science-fiction. However, I would give them props for a more layman's explanation of the multiverse although it may still open questions for some people.
In the end, there is no doubt that this is a huge departure from the first two films in the trilogy and they really took a tonal shift that is shaky at times. It is still a solid movie and a good introduction to Phase Five since this could be the type of film that will make more sense in the future when we finally see the bigger picture of the Multiverse Saga.
This will still excite MCU fans who are looking forward to its multiverse storyline and there are a lot of interesting set-ups as well on what we may see in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, which is set out to be the next big event movie in the MCU in just a couple of years.