Scott Lang isn’t the sort of guy you’d expect to be an Avenger. While the rest of the super-powered crew was reeling from the five-year Blip and trying to find a way to defeat Thanos, the divorced, thrice-arrested ex-con was stuck in the subatomic Quantum Realm (though to him, it was just a few hours).
Scott managed to break free and help the Avengers undo Thanos’ work in big (and, ahem, little) ways. But now that he’s helped save the world, he’s having a hard time readjusting to civilian life.
Everywhere he goes, Scott is recognized. Fans beg him to take pictures with their dogs, and he gets free coffee from his local café despite his insistence that he should be paying. He’s even written a book about his experiences as Ant-Man.
Scott insists he just wants to settle down and enjoy being a dad—an experience he missed out on between prison stints and his time in the Quantum Realm.
But his daughter, Cassie, isn’t a little girl anymore. She aged five years while Scott was gone. And during that time, she learned quite a bit about the Quantum Realm. So much so, in fact, that she’s not content with normal life anymore, either.
Cassie wants to make a difference and help people. After all, her grandparents were the original Ant-Man and Wasp. Her dad and stepmom are the current Ant-Man and Wasp. Why wouldn’t she want to don a suit and help out the little guy?
Cassie believes the Quantum Realm holds secrets to helping the world at large, and during Scott’s absence she’s created a way to explore it.
But Grandma Janet doesn’t want Cassie delving deeply into the place where she inadvertently spent 30 years. And given that experience, nobody knows more about how marvelous or dangerous it can be than Janet Van Dyne.
Unfortunately, before Janet can imprint these dangers upon her granddaughter, the entire family gets sucked through a portal. And now, they’ll have to find a way to escape a place outside of time and space.
And that’s not the only trouble they’re going to run into, either.
We see instances of familial and sacrificial love sprinkled throughout the film. Several people risk their own lives and livelihoods to help those in need. Some who’ve made mistakes do their best to make redemptive choices instead. We hear about humanitarian and reforestation efforts. A villain admits he was only bad because he didn’t know how to be good.
Spirituality comes into play in nearly every Marvel film as we deal with godlike superpowers and even characters who call themselves lowercase “g” gods. Quantumania is definitely more science-based, but it’s still no exception. Janet even calls Kang (this film’s villain and “conqueror” of the Quantum Realm) a monster who thinks he’s a god.
Hank Pym, who has devoted his life to science and studying the Quantum Realm, is shocked to learn that there are unique people and creatures native to it. He says that discovery changes everything—humanity’s place in the universe and purpose, evolution, even life itself—but then the movie’s plot jolts forward, stopping him from pondering such profound implications any further.
Quantumania also touches on Marvel’s theory of the Multiverse, showing how many parallel universes can coexist in some ways and clash in others.
While there’s no visually explicit content, Hank and his wife, Janet, briefly and callously discuss how they both had extramarital affairs while Janet was trapped in the Quantum Realm for 30 years. We also see some awkward sexual tension between Janet and her Quantum paramour when they cross paths.
Cassie appears to ogle a female warrior, but it’s unclear if it’s in pure admiration or sexual desire. (The woman in question wears a revealing outfit that seems non-conducive to battling monsters and bad guys.) Hope, Hank and Janet’s daughter, receives unwanted advances from a Quantum creature.
A Quantum denizen obsesses over how many holes characters have on their bodies. This joke lends itself to innuendo. We see the bare rear end of a humanoid creature.
In typical MCU fashion, we see multiple fight scenes. Characters get beat up, shot down, knocked around, etc. Sometimes these characters are killed instantly (Kang uses his powers to vaporize multitudes of rebels), and sometimes their deaths are drawn out. Due to the way the plot unfolds, some characters seemingly die multiple times.
Kang, we learn, was exiled to the Quantum Realm because he wiped out multiple universes and timelines in the Multiverse. And we witness instances of this mass destruction.
Kang tortures Cassie and threatens to kill her in front of Scott. (Later, he orders a bounty hunter to kill her and the character chases after her in a vengeful fury.)
Several characters drink a beverage that contains a live creature. Later, this creature grows to a massive proportions using size-changing Pym particles, and it then takes revenge on its would-be consumers.
Cassie says that police officers used tear gas against peaceful protestors. Janet says she was a freedom fighter/terrorist when she was in the Quantum Realm the first time. We see a flashback to when Darren Cross (villain of the first Ant-Man flick, now known as the hunter M.O.D.O.K.) tried to kill Cassie when she was 6 years old. A strange greeting ritual involves cutting off a Quantum creature’s arm (which then grows back, leaving the creature unharmed). A man’s nose is heavily bloodied during a fight.
We hear four uses of the s-word. We also hear several uses each of “a–,” “a–hole,” “d–n,” “d–k” and “h—.” The phrase “son of a—” gets cut off. God’s name is abused nine times (once paired with “d–n”), and Christ’s name is abused once.
Janet escorts Hank and Hope to a speakeasy in the Quantum Realm. There, she orders beverages that appear to be alcoholic but actually make the drinker multilingual. (In another scene, Cassie and Scott are force-fed an “ooze” that grants the same ability.) People drink alcohol with meals. Hank talks about getting drunk at one point.
Cassie gets bailed out of jail by her dad and Hope at the beginning of the film. Scott is shocked when he learns this is actually the second time she’s been arrested; not only did everyone lie about this fact, but they’re all seemingly OK with Cassie’s criminal record (since, you know, she did it for the “right” reasons).
Cassie is repeatedly rude to her dad. She’s never punished because the other adults in the room agree with her reasoning (though that still doesn’t excuse the rudeness).
Throughout the film, various characters lie, steal and kidnap.
Finally, a huge portion of the plot turns on one character’s core deception. But I’ll give you time to stop here if you don’t want further details, which are unpacked throughout the balance of this section.
[Spoiler Warning] None of the events in Quantumania would have taken place if Janet hadn’t lied about her experiences during her 30 years in the Quantum Realm. She claimed there was nothing there and that she passed those three decades in complete isolation.
That was a big, fat lie. There were people and creatures unique to the Quantum Realm. There was society and civilization. Most importantly, there was the Multiversal menace Kang, who’d been banished there and whose ire she had earned.
To make matters worse, by the time Janet comes clean, it’s less about making things right and more about explaining key plot elements so the film can move forward. And while her family forgives her, the whole sequence feels forced and unnatural.
Ever since Avengers: Endgame, I’ve felt that the Marvel storylines have been in decline. But it wasn’t until Quantumania that I truly felt disappointed leaving the theater.
Let me just say that if you are looking for typical Marvel fare—epic action sequences, beautiful CGI worlds, fun dialogue, good guys defeating bad guys—this has all of that. But in terms of character development and plot, everything feels shallow.
The previous two films in the Ant-Man franchise placed a greater focus on family than some of the other Avengers storylines. Scott struggled to get his life together so he could be present in Cassie’s life. Hank pushed Hope away after Janet disappeared. Both fathers had to work hard to heal those relationships. But Quantumania seems to take those processes for granted.
Cassie is outright rude to Scott when he expresses a desire for her to have a “normal” life. Scott tries to respect the fact that Cassie is older now by giving her some autonomy. But she takes that and gets arrested … twice. Then she has the gall to say, “Sorry, Pops, but saving the world just isn’t enough.” And Scott just sort of accepts it.
On Hank’s side of things, he worked for years to get his wife back from the Quantum Realm and put his family back together. And he finally did. But then when he and Hope learn that Janet has been lying to them since she got back (not to mention that she and Hank both cheated on each other during their time apart), it’s all just brushed aside breezily.
Janet says they’ll talk about her lies later but that they really need to focus on escaping the Quantum Realm before Kang finds and destroys them. Now, while I appreciate this deference from the action-movie trope of “explain everything to me or I won’t help,” they never actually return to the subject. And I think that after all the years we’ve invested in Marvel, audiences deserve more dimensional characters who express and work through their feelings instead of pretending nothing happened simply because they’re relieved that they didn’t die.
I wish that was all I had to say on the matter, but sadly, it’s not. Ant-Man has long been seen as the less-serious comic relief of Avengers fare. So some folks may be thinking that my review up to this point has been harsh. But Quantumania wasn’t even that funny.
Not just one but two of the film’s lightest moments were centered on repeating a curse word over and over. (And parents should be aware that the language in this film feels gratuitous not only because of that but because of four s-words as well.) Comic acting legend Bill Murray makes an appearance that feels phoned in. And when it comes to passing the torch from Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man to Kathryn Newton’s Cassie … well, let’s just say she doesn’t have nearly the comedic chops of her movie-dad.
Conversely, actor Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror was fantastic. And it’s mostly just a bummer that his villain origin story was so soiled by Marvel’s desire to drag out its special effects budget. (After all, is it even a Marvel movie if you don’t have a 10-minute long CGI battle at the end?)
Honestly, the nicest thing I have to say about Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania is that the laser effects were cool. And the fact that I personally know one of the dudes who worked on those effects has everything to do with that compliment.
Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.