Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania Delivers The Weird That Multiverse Of Madness Needed

This post contains spoilers for "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania." Please proceed with caution.

The worst sin that a movie can commit is boring the hell out of its audience. Ahead of "Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania" hitting theaters, with unhappy reviews and mixed word-of-mouth making the rounds, I feared the worst: that the Marvel movie about a microscopic fantasy dimension would be boring. Instead, it's one of the weirdest Marvel adventures yet. Though far from perfect, "Quantumania" is wacky as hell, delivering the kind of comic book-inspired fun that much of Phase 4 was missing.

Perhaps it would have been easier to keep the faith for "Quantumania" if "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" hadn't wasted its wacky potential. Maybe expectations were a little too high, but between the premise and the Sam Raimi of it all, absolute insanity just seemed like the natural expectation for a movie about a multiverse-traveling wizard fighting an unhinged witch. When the weirdness was allowed to shine through and Raimi's fingerprints could actually be seen, it ruled. Otherwise, it was an uneven, messy disappointment.

Worst of all, there wasn't much multiversal exploration in the latest Doctor Strange adventure — despite what the title promised. In the end, only a few specific alternate dimensions were explored, none of which were all that different from Earth-616. Besides that very brief segment where Strange and his walking MacGuffin, America Chavez, are falling through different realities, the Quantum Realm is much wilder than anything that the "Multiverse of Madness" had to offer.

Hilariously, "Quantumania" isn't even a multiverse movie. Isn't the Quantum Realm just a small subsection of the universe we already know? And yet, science specifics aside, "Quantumania" has more fun with the Quantum Realm than Strange did with the entire multiverse at his fingertips. And from there, the weirdness just intensifies.

The Quantum Realm is an acid trip

The Quantum Realm is a psychedelic subatomic landscape that yes, is a peak example of CGI environment nonsense — but once you get past the fact that each of these actors are just emoting before a green screen, you can appreciate all the ways that this micro-verse is a fleshed out society. Below the world of molecules and atoms, and far beyond the laws of physics, there's a vibrant flora and fauna, with dazzling cityscapes and strange humanoid creatures. And to be frank, watching our miniaturized heroes run around in that subatomic world feels like being on an acid trip.

You'd be forgiven for forgetting halfway through "Quantumania" that this isn't your typical sci-fi adventure. Don't let the alien-like creatures or the clear "Star Wars" influence fool you: we aren't in space. The reality is so much stranger than that! In space, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) would simply put his scientific expertise to use, trying to figure out the inner workings of an alien ship. Instead, he gets to stick his hands into the goopy steering system of a machine that may or may not be alive. Much like the living, walking, and shooting buildings.

While some of our heroes fend off desert nomads, others make nice with a misfit band of alien lifeforms — many of whom look human sans the occasional oddity (a glowing forehead here, a supernova there, a broccoli growth ... everywhere). My favorite side character is the alien blob made of pink gel, which Scott and his daughter must drink in order to understand the mysterious quantum language. No further exploration is needed. Seeing Scott dragged into a circle of chanting strangers and finding out that he has consumed Veb's gel is more than enough. Also, life becomes 100% better when we discover that Veb is obsessed with holes.

The MCU is getting zany

The Quantum Realm is chaotic, to put it mildly. So as far as CGI landscapes go, we really lucked out — this one is an absolute blast to vibe in. As a fan who enjoyed the tonal weirdness of "She-Hulk" (and its utter disinterest in the larger MCU), maybe it makes sense that I had so much fun with "Quantumania." Much like the woman who broke though the Disney+ interface, this movie feels like weirdness just for the sake of fun. A horny broccoli man? A tortured mind-reader tired of discussing holes? And let's not bury the lede here — MODOK is also running amuck, shoving his Mr. Electric-shaped head in our faces. It's a joke that is absolute nonsense on paper, but I'll be damned if I didn't laugh every time he appeared.

Humor has always been an integral part of the MCU and, for better or worse, the movies have really leaned into that during the later phases. Sometimes, it's an awful development. Suddenly, everyone has the self-awareness of Deadpool and the snark of Tony Stark: zingy one-liners and self-aware prods are in every other sentence, undercutting sincere drama and eliciting more eyerolls than laughs. But that's not quite the energy of the humor in "Quantumania," which is absolute absurdity, perfectly suited for an "Ant-Man" movie.

Kang sums it up for us

Scott Lang has always delivered the lighter stories, and though there's a hefty weight to this adventure that his others lacked — Kang's escape could, apparently, doom the entire multiverse — there's still room to laugh at the insanity of everything that's happening. By far the best illustration of this comes from Kang himself when he starts vaporizing innocents and makes the enraged declaration that our heroes can't possibly win because "I am Kang! You talk to ants!" He is then decimated by an army of insanely evolved socialist ants. It's pretty beautiful to watch.

This movie is very unabashedly silly. It ends with Scott buying an ice cream cake while contemplating the possibility that he may have doomed the multiverse. And then, before we all go home, we get a quick glimpse of Jonathan Majors sporting a bunch of different headpieces and trying on some new voices as various versions of a time-traveling a******. So in its worst moments, "Quantumania" is still bogged down by the MCU of it all, and acts as a commercial for the Next Big Thing. But at its very best, this movie is consolidated weirdness, reveling in the absolute wonder of its psychedelic subatomic landscape, and making time to shout out the value of socialism via ants.