Content Warning: Photosensitive viewers may have trouble enjoying Quantumania as there are many sequences involving flashing lights.
The 31st Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) release is also the kick-off the fifth phase of the MCU as a whole and the second chapter of the Multiverse Saga. If you hadn’t noticed all the discussion of different dimensions and alternate universes in the Phase Four films, the focus sharpens here as theatrical audiences are introduced to Kang the Conqueror, the MCU’s new big-bad that’s intended to be a multiversal threat that will drive the heroes into an Avengers-level confrontation, 2025’s slated Avengers: The Kang Dynasty. Unfortunately, audiences didn’t particularly respond well to the kick-off in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, finding the story lackluster and the villain ineffectual. On this, I disagree completely as I see Quantumania as merely the first salvo in a larger conflict that could prove to be devastating to the MCU in unimaginable ways (especially if you’re less familiar with the source material). As audiences get excited for the 32nd entry, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3, take some time to revisit Quantumania via digital now and on physical formats May 16th.
If you’re interested in learning about Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania in a spoiler-free context, please head over to the initial theatrical release review. Moving forward, there will be no holding back on details.
After the defeat of Thanos (James Brolin), Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) finally seems to be on top of things for once. Previously only viewed as an ex-con, he’s now seen as a hero. Thanks to his podcast and book, he’s also viewed as a bit of a celebrity around San Francisco; plus, things with Janet (Evangeline Lily) are progressing nicely and he gets to spend time with daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton). What could possible go wrong? Secrets. The kind that keep Scott from knowing that Cassie is getting involved in small-time heroics; that Cassie and Hank (Michael Douglas) are developing a device to map the quantum realm; and that Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) didn’t just wait around for decades waiting to be rescued in the quantum realm, she faced off against an incredibly powerful force. All of these secrets will come to a head when the Lang/Pym family are sucked far into the quantum realm by the forces of the seemingly unstoppable Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) who desires to finish a conversation he and Janet never finished.
As far as home releases go, this one is fairly tame regarding its materials. There’s a feature-length commentary track with Ant-Man trilogy director Peyton Reed and writer Jeff Loveness (Loki), which itself may be reason enough for home release fans to snag this as director commentary tracks on not the norm for the MCU. Other than this, there’s a brief gag reel, two deleted scenes that are really more like extended scenes with mo-cap performances mixed in, and two featurettes exploring the heroes and villains, respectively. For theatrical viewers who missed the theme of secrets and family during their initial watch, the featurette “All in the Family” should help clear this up as the central cast discuss not only making the film, but express their thoughts on where the characters are when we meet them. Personally, for all the folks who asked “why didn’t Janet just tell them about Kang since she got out?,” this featurette addresses how sometimes folks don’t open up to those closest to us. My eldest creates pools of water on the floor and refuses to take credit for it out of some kind of disquiet rather than tell us that he’s trying to recreate a Wither Storm (it’s a Minecraft thing). This kid has no reason not to open up, but he doesn’t unless he’s reminded that it’s just water and his parents don’t care, we just want to know why he’d doing it. Now imagine that you’re an adult whose been trying to get home for decades and ended up involved in a major hostile engagement with an advanced force lead by a man from the future with designs on multiversal domination. Even the best former government-issue soldiers might clam up in an effort to put it behind them. One tiny weakness in the argument is that Janet is seen at the end of Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) helping to collect quantum energy to help Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), and does so without concern, but as we learn that the depth Scott was going to wasn’t as deep as where Kang is, one can piece together that she didn’t feel like there was a need to divulge her past.
On the villains’ side of things, “Formidable Foes” allows the audience to learn about the three villains of the film, gain insight on the ideation behind the casting, how the performances were captured, and some of the costume work that helped bring these characters to life. It’s amusing to learn that Loveness specifically chose Lord Krylar (whom Bill Murray portrayed) because he’s a deep cut in Marvel Comics with not much known about him, allowing for more room to play. Additionally, and perhaps most fascinating, was the decision to use Corey Stoll’s Darren Cross as the basis for M.O.D.O.K., citing his excruciatingly violent defeat as the perfect foundation for the odd design of the frequently cartoonish murder machine, as well as the way Reed captured his mo-cap performance, performing it like theater in a white box with Stoll and his castmates. If there is a strange shroud that covers the film, no matter what one thought of it, it’s the exploration of Kang and the casting of Majors. The featurette was likely created well before news of the actor’s arrest was released and it’s not likely that, even if time allowed, it would’ve minimized Majors’s presence within it as the actor is the focal point for the action of this film, but he is also slated to play Kang for the duration of the Multiverse Saga. When talking about the actor, we learn how Majors approached the character, how he felt about taking on the role, and even hear from producer Kevin Fiege about how Majors was cast.
As of this writing, Marvel Studios has yet to release any kind of statement regarding what they plan to do with Majors as Kang. Though the investigation is currently on-going, it’s extremely odd that he’s been dropped by his public relations and management teams, suggesting that the claims are perhaps too difficult for seasoned pros to clean up or shift public opinion on. Having worked in PR, there are few clients and situations that businesses like these will simply turn down, so it doesn’t look good at all. My guess is that Marvel is waiting this out for as long as they can before making any kind of statement as it’s already been established, not just by Quantumania, but by the end credit scene of the film, as well as season one finale of Loki, that Majors is playing all of the Kangs, and replacing the actor may prove harder for them narratively than they’d prefer. However, recasting has occurred before, either due to negotiation issues or death, so switching Majors for another actor would not be the strangest thing. That said, finding someone of Majors’s talent and gravitas may be the actual reason why Marvel is waiting. Just like in this year’s Creed III, Majors helps make the movie with his performance, and the Sundance release Magazine Dreams (currently slated for Winter 2023, distributed by Searchlight Pictures) is largely hailed as a career-defining performance from the actor. But one should not keep the bag, as it were, if one is, in fact, a shitbag. Time will tell how this plays out.
I’m on record as having enjoyed Quantumania and that remains true now. I found the setup of Kang in the MCU proper to be tense and disquieting, establishing that if this variant character is the one that all the rest feared, and it was only due to extraordinary circumstances that Team Ant-Man defeated him, an army of such individuals is going to prove demonstrably difficult for all those who went toe-to-toe with Thanos and his forces. Yes, the film mostly maintains the lightness that the Ant-Man films are known for, something which makes the darker moments seem out of line in contrast, but it mostly works to set the stage for what’s the come. I enjoyed how Scott has gotten to a point in his life where his conflict is between enjoying the life he’s created (no longer viewed as an ex-con, right, Baskin Robbins?) and being the hero his daughter imagines him to be. Especially as a parent who tries and frequently fails daily to be who his kids need him to be, this resonated hard; so much so that when Scott nearly loses his sense of reality, that it’s once more Cassie who serves as his beacon to come home, illustrates how these films never lost sight of what they’re about. ::insert Fast & Furious family joke here:: And while there are elements of the film where I can see frustrations or feelings of exhaustion, I’d argue that they’re nearly the same complaints one might have with a particular run, artist, or era of any comic. Especially as the threat of Kang looms larger and the stories zero-in on the larger connective tissue, the complaints of the MCU are likely to fade, and it’ll start with Quantumania and all that Phase Four established.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania Special Features:*
- All in the Family – Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly and Michelle Pfeiffer discuss the complex layers and secrets – yet incredibly strong bond of this heroic family. (7:28)
- Formidable Foes – Discover how Jonathan Majors, Bill Murray and Corey Stoll bring gravitas to the villains of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Learn more about how Kang brings a Thanos-level threat to this adventure and the larger MCU. (11:37)
- Gag Reel: Take a look at some of the fun outtakes on set with the cast and crew of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. (1:52)
- Audio Commentary: Watch the film with audio commentary by director Peyton Reed and writer Jeff Loveness. (2:04:34)
- Two (2) Deleted Scenes – Drink The Ooze & I Have Holes (3:01)
*Bonus features vary by product and retailer
Available on digital April 18th, 2023.
Available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD May 16th, 2023.
For more information, head to Marvel Studios’s official Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania webpage.
Categories: Home Release, Recommendation
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