Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, by Albert W. Vogt III

What does it tell you that for the title to my notes for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, I simply wrote “Ant-Man 3?”  Does it mean that I am getting Marvel fatigue?  Is it simply short-hand for a long title?  Is it a sign of a lack of detail on my part?  The answer lies somewhere in the middle of the first two questions, and any inclusion of the last one is purely accidental.  I know I have said this in reviews of others of its ilk since Avengers: Endgame (2019), but it bears repeating: I do not totally understand the point of all this anymore.  It is pretty to look at, and sometimes fun, but every single one of these things has some overwhelming, universe spanning terror about which to be anxious.  Hence, the fatigue.  I do not want to fall into the lazy critic trap of saying that these movies are repeating themselves, but perhaps the titles can say it for me: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022); Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.  Remember when it was just one universe to worry about?  Now it is all of them, and not just regular sized ones, but little ones, too.  It kind of makes you wonder what they are smoking over at Marvel Studios.  I am content to leave the universe up to God.

The first title character we meet is the first one in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, though he is known more familiarly as Scott Lang (Paul Rudd).  He is narrating what his life has become since the events of Avengers: Endgame.  What it means in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is that he and his girlfriend Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), who the world also known as the other eponymous hero, are now famous.  His narration comes from a memoir he has written about his experiences as an Avenger, and concludes with his desire about wanting to simply be a good dad.  That is complicated because his teenaged daughter, Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton), needs to be picked up from jail.  She had been arrested while attempting to stop the police from harassing homeless people, which is exacerbated by the fact that she shrank one of their cars.  If that does not clue you into the fact that she, too, has an Ant-Man suit, then I do not know what to do for you.  Scott is clueless because Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), the creator of everything behind the hero, and his daughter Hope did not tell Scott they made the suit for Cassie.  Hank and Hope also failed to mention to Hope’s mother, Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), that they had helped Cassie create a device for monitoring the Quantum realm.  While Scott is okay with this last revelation, Janet is immediately put on guard and tells Cassie to turn it off.  Unfortunately, though they do pull the plug, all five of them are shrunk down to the impossibly small universe that is the Quantum realm.  This is a place that Janet had been stranded in for thirty years, only to be rescued in the previous movie.  In their journey, Cassie and Scott are separated from the others.  They end up with a band of freedom fighters.  Who are they, er, freedom fighting?  Oh, only Nathaniel Richards (Jonathan Majors).  Actually, the film never mentions the alternate name in the comics for Kang the Conqueror.  There, that sounds much more menacing, yes?  He had been exiled to the Quantum realm by the league of Kangs.  Okay, I have no idea if it is the “league of Kangs,” but come on!  Marvel expects you to remember all this stuff from other movies and shows!  I digress.  Janet unwittingly helped him back to health, but prevented him from leaving this world when she learned (it is a telepathic thing) Kang’s true purpose: to, well, conquer.  Since she has been gone, he has done what his name would suggest and carved out an empire in this realm.  So, now you know who the people Cassie and Scott encounter are freedom fighting.  They are brought to the big cheese himself by Hope and Scott’s old nemesis, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), who Kang has turned into a living, and grotesquely misshapen, weapon called M.O.D.O.K.  Look, go watch the first of these films.  When Kang confronts Scott, it comes with a proposition: Scott must use his technology to retrieve the part of his machine that Janet had enlarged and rendered useless, or Kang will kill Cassie.  It should be noted that as this has gone on, Hank, Hope, and Janet have not been sitting idly by.  Janet correctly guesses what Kang is after and they head in the same direction.  Finally, upon retrieving the whatever it is called, you know, the thing for Kang’s whatchamacallit, our title heroes are re-united.  Unfortunately, they are not enough to stop Kang from taking the doodad from them.  Yet, when all seems lost, we get a surprise visit from a colony of rather large, and intelligent, ants.  Or are they super small since they are in the Quantum realm?  Who cares!  For whatever reason, their trip from Hank’s lab to their current surroundings helped their civilization advance lightyears.  Thus, while Cassie sneaks off to free prisoners in Kang’s citadel and send out a message of revolt, Ant-Man and the Wasp lead an attack from the outside.  Eventually, Hank shows up with his ant pals, and they are able to overtake Kang and the rest of his cronies.  Using the thingamajig, Janet opens a portal back to their own world.  Of course, there has to be one last fight between Ant-Man and Kang, but the Wasp comes back to finish him off.  We conclude with Scott back in his home of San Francisco, happily trying to make up for lost birthdays with Cassie, but with a nagging feeling that something terrible will eventually happen.

Okay, so, there you go with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.  I did not hate the experience.  I cannot say that, really, about any of the Marvel films, no matter what phase they are currently on.  There are, of course, post-credits scenes that all pertain to those other versions of Kang that are running around the multi-verse or whatever.  I suppose the problem is mine.  I sit there watching these and trying to figure them out.  Sometimes things just zip by without my noticing in the moment.  Yet, the more I have thought about this bit with the intelligent ants, the more I am perplexed.  Hank gives a few lines about how they experienced time differently as they transited to the Quantum realm.  Yet, why did not the humans experience the same thing?  Or did they?  It seems like time moved normally for them because nothing seems to have radically changed in their own world when they return.  Look, if I am not supposed to care about these details, then why do they bother trying to offer any explanation at all?  A bigger problem I have is the ending.  For a moment, I thought that Hope and Scott are going to be trapped in the Quantum realm.  Right, good, brilliant, so what?  I thought this because the device that Janet uses to open the portal is destroyed in the final showdown with Kang, closing before Hope and Scott can use it.  However, Cassie pushes a few buttons in her world and zip, zap, zop, they can go home.  Whatever, I guess.

The things that I mentioned in that last paragraph of this review of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania are made worse by a line that Scott says at the beginning at the end: my life does not make a lot of sense.  Neither does this film.  Still, it does speak to an idea dear to this Catholic’s heart.  In a lot of ways, Faith does not make sense, particularly to those who do not believe.  How can we put our trust in a Savior who might not exist, at least as the Bible says He does, or so one of the prevailing arguments goes.  This is interesting to me, or that people would subscribe to such faulty logic, because it takes a narrow view of God and uses it to say the whole thing is a sham.  God is far greater, and the Bible also says that our wisdom is foolishness to him.  In other words, we can spend a life time, and many have, trying to puzzle out God and His ways and not get anywhere close to the real Truth.  This is not to say that such endeavors are worthless.  What I prefer is something else Scott says that also seems like foolishness, but is a great way of experiencing God.  He says that his whole life happened because he messed up, referring to his brushes with the law in his younger years.  When I heard this, I thought of the Apostle Peter, the man upon whom the entire Church was founded despite having denied Jesus on the road to His passion.  Faith is about forgiveness, the kind of ultimate forgiveness that only God can give you.  There is a pale reflection of this after David redeems himself by turning on Kang, though that is dissolved by his comically large face.  For us, letting God forgive us is much harder, though He wants to do so.  That much is clear.  This movie is less so.

Again, I did not hate watching Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.  I was also not overly impressed.  I keep seeing these things out of respect for my childhood fascination with Marvel.  If it was not for that, and were there something equally big and flashy released this weekend, I might have seen something else.  Still, if you must see it, go ahead, knock yourself out, go nuts.  There is some substance to it, but good luck making any sense of it.


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