Our favorite short king returns in 'Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania'
You could say that the newest Marvel film, "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," is just another classic "Ant-Man" movie that has the same comedic relief and same overall plot as its previous installments. It's fun, happy and familiar, yet this time, its main job is connecting its universe to the larger plot of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
In my opinion, this film is the second-best MCU movie since the start of phase four, behind "Spider-Man No Way Home," for Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire-related reasons.
But even with this easily obtained high ranking, there are still flaws in this new film. One of the biggest issues — which some would argue is minor — is not having the character Luis (Michael Peña) anywhere in the film. He wasn't even in the amusing opening montage narrated by Scott Lang (Paul Rudd).
The film did manage to have Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) in the montage for a few seconds, and it was nice to see he's still a part of Scott's life. But Luis could've easily been added to the coffee date with them seeing how he's Scott's best friend.
One reason the character probably wasn't in the film was due to the fast-paced start of the movie. Movies in the MCU can't really take the time to set the scene these days and allow us to dig into the story. Instead, the beginning mainly focuses on connecting the characters to greater MCU plot points.
The fact that the first act was so quick only helps this film because there is absolutely no need to catch up with characters like Scott's daughter Cassandra (Kathryn Newton), in-depth since their lives have been pretty normal since the previous time audiences saw them. All we want is to get to the conflict, and, in this instance, that's sparked by Kang the Conqueror (Johnathan Majors).
But with Kang, Marvel made a few mistakes. The film tries to build suspense with who this new all-powerful villain is by not mentioning his name. But Marvel can't keep secrets as well as they think they can.
Kang's identity was already given away in "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" trailers, and Marvel had previously announced that the character would be the next villain to fight the Avengers at the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con.
If Marvel truly wanted to build suspense during "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," they should have more intentionally timed the release of the film and the announcement about the May 2025 release of "Avengers: The Kang Dynasty."
For example, the company could have hinted at Kang's fight with the Avengers at the end of "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" and then announced the news more explicitly at an upcoming fan convention — say, 2023's San Diego Comic-Con.
Last year's premature Kang reveal ruined all of the potential suspense in the new "Ant-Man" installment. But over-spoiling movies isn't a new trend for production companies, especially those that release highly detailed trailers.
Kang was also in the Disney+ original show, "Loki," but this feature of his character didn't spoil or ruin anything due to how it was handled. If anything, "Loki" did a superior job of introducing Kang as the villain for that storyline.
With that all being said, one thing "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" did right that others didn't was having this huge world-ending villain be in the quantum realm instead of the story taking place on Earth.
Often, when the films take place on Earth, there's always the question of why they didn't call the other Avengers. If the Avengers had actually assembled in "Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness," perhaps they could have helped fight off Wanda Maximoff.
The setting of "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," though, takes care of this issue created by the ever-growing and continuously complicated world of the MCU. It lets our favorite insect superheroes handle the situation on their own in a way that's unique to their powers and abilities.
Thankfully, this film also didn't try drowning viewers with comedic relief or overlooking serious threats — it appears that the movie's director Peyton Reed may have learned from the mistakes of his "Thor: Love and Thunder" counterpart, Taika Waititi.
As the villain, Kang had some of the best parts of "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," and he maintained a good overall balance of comedy and seriousness. Reed didn't downplay the character and showed exactly what Kang is capable of, unlike how the newest Thor installment handled Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale).
As the MCU's first phase five film, this new installment of "Ant-Man" was an overall enjoyable film that deserves more love than it's getting. It's unfortunate, but maybe we should lower our expectations for new MCU films instead of expecting the same quality present in their previous work.
We're in a new phase, as the people behind Marvel love to call it, and as such, we should be prepared for something different. Otherwise, we won't appreciate the genuinely good work they've been accomplishing regarding character development and storylines recently.
Despite criticisms and concerns over the fate of the MCU and superhero movies as a whole, "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" did hold up to its two previous "Ant-Man" films, possibly even surpassing "Ant-Man and the Wasp" due to the characters and overall quality.