Spoiler Review: ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ fails to deliver humor compared to previous films


Jonathan Majors as Kang The Conqueror in Marvel Studios’ “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” (Jay Maidment/Marvel/TNS)

By Tyler D'Errico, Contributor

Marvel Studios’ “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” which was released in theaters on Feb. 17, is an entertaining film in and of itself. However, as a sequel to the previous two “Ant-Man” installments, it falters a bit.

The three metrics that I use to judge genre films are humor, heart, and high stakes. I call them the three H’s. “Quantumania” is lacking just a little bit in each of these elements, and it adds up. 

The first “H” is humor. Whereas in the first two films, nearly every joke landed, half of the jokes in “Quantumania” land, and half of them very much don’t. 

Most of the funniest scenes in “Quantumania” come from the banter between Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and his daughter, Cassie Lang (now portrayed by Kathryn Newton). I particularly enjoyed a callback to Ant-Man’s orange slices joke in “Captain America: Civil War.”

Newton’s 2020 casting as Cassie Lang drew ire from MCU fans, who questioned the need to replace Emma Fuhrmann, who portrayed the character in 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame.” However, Newton’s Cassie is easily the best part of “Quantumania.” 

She has the same charisma and moral compass as her father. In fact, in the first scene we see of her, she is in jail for shrinking a cop car. Perhaps, like Hank Pym with Darren Cross in the first “Ant-Man,” Scott Lang saw too much of himself, leading him to heavily restrict her superheroic activities.

Speaking of Darren Cross, the artist formerly known as the Yellowjacket returned in “Quantumania” in a very different costume this time, as he became the MCU’s version of famed comic antagonist MODOK. In the comics, MODOK, which stands for Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing, is supposed to be menacing, but here he is depicted as comic relief. 

The problem is, he’s not that funny. He has a couple of good meta jokes about Cassie’s recasting and Hope van Dyne’s (Evangeline Lilly) new hairstyle, but that’s it. An attempt to give him a redemption arc at the end doesn’t land the way it intended to because of inferior dialogue.

One of the things I liked about “Ant-Man and the Wasp” was what they did with Hope’s character. Yeah, she had new hair, but more importantly, she was snarkier. “Quantumania” goes in the wrong direction on both of those counts, restricting van Dyne to the all-business character that we saw in the first “Ant-Man.” 

The second element that I look for is heart. Much of this is provided by Scott and Cassie. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope van Dyne’s relationship takes a back seat in this one, though, as both are too busy being mad at Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) for not telling them about her secret Quantum Realm acquaintance, Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors).

This leads me to my third and final element, high stakes, which is actually the one I think “Quantumania” succeeds at the most. As Kang, Majors is absolutely chewing scenery. He’s easily the best villain in the “Ant-Man” franchise, and has a good chance of being one of the top MCU antagonists, particularly if there are 20 million of him like there are in the film’s first post-credits scene.

“Quantumania” is not like most Marvel movies. It doesn’t take place on Earth, the characters are split up on an unknown planet (or, in this case, Realm), and there’s a fearsome emperor with a half-man, half-machine second-in-command. In other words, it’s “Star Wars.” 

That’s not to say that other franchises can’t copy “Star Wars.” I enjoyed “Star Trek Beyond,” which was a take on this formula as well. However, “Star Wars” wasn’t afraid to kill people off to maintain the stakes.

In “Quantumania,” the only character who dies is MODOK, and it’s at the end, lessening its impact. It would have been much better to kill off badass Quantum Realm general Jentorra, which would strike a chord with Cassie, or William Jackson Harper’s hilarious telepath Quas, who annoyingly popped up only when he needed to use his powers. Seriously, he can’t fly like the Wasp. Where was he going all this time?

Overall, “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is decent for what it is and is a setup for the next “Avengers” film, conspicuously titled “The Kang Dynasty.” It just doesn’t feel like an “Ant-Man” movie.