‘I’ ON CULTURE
As with all Marvel films, I waited for Antman and the Wasp: Quantumania with great hopes. The best of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films are awesome, and almost all of the rest are at least pretty good. The new movie fits into that second category. It is fun at times, makes not much sense at times and is mostly used as a transition to bring a new super villain into the universe, namely Kang the Conqueror. It is reported that he will be the, shall we say Thanos, of the next generation of the Avengers.
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a happy-go-lucky guy living in San Francisco with Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), a thriving entrepreneur. His daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton), last seen as a kid, is now more or less grown and an activist. After bailing her out, Scott tries to reason with her at a family dinner with Hope’s parents, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer). It turns out Cassie, who likes science, has built a connection to the Quantum Realm. She turns it on, and all of them, as well as some ants, go through a portal into said realm.
The Langs are found by natives who are in rebellion against Kang, while Hank, Janet and Hope wind up meeting with her former ally Lord Krylar (Bill Murray), who after revealing that Janet had quite a past for the 30 years she was in the realm, informs them that now he works for Kang. Further, Janet is responsible for the rise of Kang, having helped rebuild a multiversal power core that allows him to visit different universes before she destroyed it.
Scott and Cassie are captured by Kang, who demands that Lang help him get his power core back or Cassie will die. He does it but reneges, and the battle, featuring many strange creatures, goes on. A lot of the fighting seems done to take time up, but there is also more than a bit of fun and more than a few interesting creatures, some reasonably human.
The cast is, as expected, good. Rudd really has his character down pat. He handles the humor well while coming across as a caring father. Evangeline Lilly has far too little to do. Douglas is fine as Pym, often having some of the best lines. Pfeiffer, however, becomes the main protagonist. She does have a past, and she makes certain that she, and her family, will have a future. While remaining glamorous, she is tough and always ready to battle. Newton is really good as well. She seems to really grow up as the movie goes on and grows into a superhero role
Jonathan Majors is an excellent Kang. At some points, before we find out his real self, he seems a decent, strong person. Then the covering slips away. He is tough, nasty and has no problem breaking his sworn oaths. He looks like a very tough adversary for future movies. Murray manages to make Krylar both amusing and sleazy, a trick he has used quite well in the past. I also liked William Jackson Harper as a telepath with a sense of humor.
Like the other Antman movies, this one focuses on family, but does it easily as much from the female as the male side — and it works well. The women all are strong, know what they want and are equals to the men. And, although Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne have superpowers, they use their minds far more. Watching Cassie Lang trying to master new skills presented some amusing bits, often in the middle of the action.
As noted above, this is minor Marvel material. It is well-written, the sets are spectacular, particularly since most of the film is in a weird, non-reality place, peopled in part by beings other than humans. But the pace moves well, and there is no time to get bored. And the love of family element is very nice, considering the other films coming out now.
If you enjoy the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you will like this. And it’s probably easier for kids to enjoy than some of the stronger films. But it is not first-rate Marvel, or first-rate anything else.