Entertaining and world-building. Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe launches with Disney-Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (AWQ). This (paint-by-numbers) adventure of epic proportions benefits from a small central cast, which allows for effective character arcs and development. Furthermore, the central cast is elevated to near purrrrrrfection with the incomparable Michelle Pfeiffer’s significant screen presence as the original Wasp Janet Van Dyne. For someone that can take or leave the MCU, simply knowing that Michelle Pfeiffer is in a pivotal role, is enough to get me to watch. Perhaps that is also like you. While this is not her first time returning to the superhero genre (first did it in Ant-Man and the Wasp), this is the first time that she is front and center, giving hope that we may yet still see Pfeiffer return to her career-defining role as the definitive Catwoman.

Ant-Man and the Wasp find themselves exploring the Quantum Realm, interacting with strange new creatures and embarking on an adventure that pushes them beyond the limits of what they thought was possible.

The latest installment in the MCU mostly functions as a standalone movie, but there is clearly world building to lay the piping for Phase 5. Now, I do not follow the comics nor have seen any of the TV shows, and I was able to follow sufficiently enough, which means that anyone that has seen the MCU theatrical movies will have sufficient knowledge to follow the journey. Yes, the visual effects are expertly generated by graphics engineers, but I am seldom impressed by entire worlds that exist within the confines of a computer. There is very little real set design, which mitigates the ability to become immersed in the Quantum realm. AWQ represents what happens when a single media conglomerate owns both Marvel and Star Wars because this movie feel like the combination of Star Wars and Avengers. There is even a scene right out of the cantina on Tatooine. To the superhero movie’s credit, the plot is simple and the characters complex, so it receives high marks for screenwriting mechanics.

Par for the Disney course these days, there cannot possibly be a movie released without a dose of the cynical worldview of applied postmodernism. For AWQ, this dose comes in the first sequence of scenes following the prologue. Cassie is in jail for antagonizing law enforcement that (we are told) launched tear gas into a (we are told) peaceful protest. This serves little to no purpose, and most certainly has no bearing on the plot; therefore, it was in there simply to check off a virtue signaling box. I can see what they were trying to do–trying to show that Cassie has the early signs of going down her father’s path of delinquent behavior. If Disney-Marvel wanted this to be more poetic and elicit greater empathy from the audience, then Cassie should have been shown engaging in petty crime not activism. This would have demonstrated that Scott’s lack of engagement as a parents (due to his personal brand and professional pursuits) has had a negative impact on Cassie’s development. Furthermore, this would have provided for a greater character arc when she in instrumental in saving the universe.

What a fantastic cast!! Cast highlights include (as mentioned earlier) Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Douglas, and a surprise cameo from Bill Murray! This otherwise paint-by-numbers superhero movie is elevated by the contributions of these exemplary actors. Even if you don’t see all the MCU movies, I highly recommend the Ant-Man movies because they are far more character-driven than the others, and the small central cast benefits from time and attention paid to their respective interpersonal journeys that provide depth to the high concept plot. For the most part, the running theme of the Ant-Man movies generally revolves around the idea of fatherhood and (by extension) parenting.

If MCU fans were looking for their next big bad, then they will find the new archenemy bent on the destruction of the known universe, without going into spoilerific details, I can say that this new villain makes Thanos look like Bowser from the Mario games, with King Koopa being our newest main villain. Be sure to stay for both the mid and post-credit scenes as they raise the stakes to exponential levels.

If you’re looking for a fun movie that you can just kick back and enjoy, then this may be your ticket. I highly recommend watching it in a premium format (such as IMAX, Dolby, or XD) because the CGI sets will shine best with the best sound and screen at your local movie theatre.

Ryan teaches Film Studies and Screenwriting at the University of Tampa and is a member of the Critics Association of Central Florida and Indie Film Critics of America. If you like this article, check out the others and FOLLOW this blog! Interested in Ryan making a guest appearance on your podcast or contributing to your website? Send him a DM on Twitter. If you’re ever in Tampa or Orlando, feel free to catch a movie with him.

Follow him on Twitter: RLTerry1 and LetterBoxd: RLTerry


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