The third MCU movie to feature the titular shrinking heroes, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a far bigger deal for the franchise than it would otherwise seem. Though he may not be the MCU’s greatest hero, Ant-Man’s return for the threequel was much-anticipated. However, all the hype was centered on one man: Kang the Conqueror.

Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, and Michelle Pfeiffer return, but they’re not alone. Joining them is Kathryn Newton (the third actor to play Cassie Lang in the MCU) and Jonathan Majors, who plays the franchise’s new big bad, Kang. As Marvel’s plans for the next few years heavily involve Kang as the next Avengers-level threat, his formal introduction is something of a big deal.

Of course, Quantumania also continues the stories of Ant-Man and the various Avengers movies – such is the nature of the MCU. Largely, Quantumania concerns the subatomic Quantum Realm and the aftermath of Janet Van Dyne’s 30 years spent there. It also introduces MODOK, an iconic (if silly) Marvel villain.

Quantumania Gives Ant-Man A Good Father-Daughter Story

Kathryn Newton as Cassie Lang and Paul Rudd as Ant-Man in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)

Perhaps one of Quantumania‘s greatest strengths is the relationship between Scott and Cassie. Despite having previously been something of a reluctantly absent father, Scott is finally shown sharing a close bond with his suddenly grown-up daughter. The dynamic between the two works brilliantly, and helps Quantumania to feel like an organic progression from previous Ant-Man movies.

Quantumania largely concerns Cassie’s own journey to becoming a hero and following in Scott’s footsteps. This allows for Ant-Man himself to act a little more responsibly and cautiously, which is an interesting development for the character. It also shores up his wholesome image as one of the MCU’s sweetest heroes, which is an added bonus. The father-daughter bonding is one of the sequels best pay-offs, and drives practically all of the film’s emotional beats.

Kang The Conqueror Steals Ant-Man’s Movie From Under Him

Paul Rudd as Ant-Man and Jonathan Majors as Kang in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

As much as Ant-Man has plenty of sweet moments with his daughter, Kang steals the show. Jonathan Majors is both charismatic and unsettling in the role of Kang, delivering an excellent villainous performance. He’s just the right blend of sanctimonious and unhinged to prove a large-scale threat, and that really helps keep Quantumania feeling fresh. The idea that the franchise’s future will so heavily rely on Majors is actually somewhat encouraging.

Unfortunately, this undermines the film’s hero by comparison, which creates a few tonal problems. As much as Rudd is as sweet as ever, Majors’ screen presence is undeniable, and with more focus on introducing the villain, Quantumania feels a little lopsided. In this, it makes its own protagonist seem a little redundant at times, especially as the stakes seem relatively low. Any genuine threat to the “real” world is too far removed from Quantumania‘s story, as everything takes place in the fantastical Quantum Realm. Kang is a good villain, but Quantumania just doesn’t seem like his proper platform.

Quantumania Does Ant-Man Justice, But Can’t Overcome The MCU’s Greatest Challenge

Evangeline Lilly as the Wasp and Paul Rudd as Ant-Man in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Though Quantumania does manage to do previous Ant-Man movies justice, it suffers from familiar issues. CGI is used in abundance, and at several critical junctures the film descends into formulaic nonsense. Its script is also a victim to classic MCU pitfalls: cheesy dialogue is peppered with hollow sincerity and unnecessary jokes that simply fail to land. These are all problems that the MCU can’t seem to break away from, and they’re beginning to sound like chimes of doom for the franchise.

Quantumania lands in the middle ground between Thor: Love and Thunder and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The former tried too hard to be funny and the latter didn’t really try any levity at all. Sadly, Quantumania tries both, and it quietly robs Ant-Man of some of his former charm. Though at a glance it might look something like a return to form, Quantumania confirms just how unimaginative Marvel movies have become.

Rating: 55%

Summary: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania does a few things right, but gets plenty wrong, too. Its story is entertaining, but doesn’t feel new. Its bigger moments feel cheap and undeserved, and the extent of its CGI is a little off-putting. Still, decent chemistry and sound performances keep it afloat, making Quantumania entirely watchable, if nothing more.

Highlight: Jonathan Majors makes an excellent villain as Kang. Though he’s a wasted somewhat in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, knowing he’ll return is ample consolation.