Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania Follows The Unfortunate Footsteps Of John Carter And Other Sci-Fi Duds

The "Ant-Man" movies have always been kind of an outlier in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They tend to focus on everyday people reacting to larger-than-life comic book stories. After over a decade of Marvel movies, most of them have escalated to the point where their characters don't feel like just regular people with superpowers anymore, the way they do in the comics, but the "Ant-Man" movies always did. The supporting cast is comprised of regular citizens who are not related to the superhero life, so when the superheroic battles and mayhem arrives, it always felt dangerous and important. 

That was until "Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania," by far the biggest, weirdest movie in the trilogy, and one that trades fun wacky grounded characters like Michael Peña's Luis for a bunch of sci-fi creatures that look straight out of a "Rick and Morty" episode (Broccoli guy, anyone?). The film leaves San Francisco and instead goes to the spectacular views of the Quantum Realm. As a positive, this change helps the end of the trilogy feel fresh and utterly weird, delivering just what "Multiverse Of Madness" needed

Yet as ambitious as the movie is in its sci-fi elements, it falls just short of succeeding. There are some big ideas, some fantastic visuals, and really cool characters (particularly in the background), but it's bogged down by a lackluster script, at times underwhelming VFX, and characters that sort of go nowhere that prevents this from being a truly great sci-fi adventure. 

"Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania" is more like a 2010 big-budget sci-fi flop than it is an MCU movie. Take away the Marvel Studios logo and you might be forgiven for thinking this was a sequel to the likes of "Tomorrowland," "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets," or "John Carter."

Back in time

The 2010s gave us many things. This was the decade where the MCU exploded, going from a couple of good movies to creating a vast interconnected universe the likes of which we had never seen in cinema before. In the realm of sci-fi, the decade saw some of the best sci-fi movies ever made, from Jordan Peele's "Get Out" (it counts!) and Denis Villeneuve's "Arrival," to Makoto Shinkai's sci-fi romance blockbuster, "Your Name."

The decade also gave us a wave of big-budget, ambitious sci-fi movies that introduced us to brand-new worlds full of cool creatures and spectacular visuals that were also massive financial and critical flops. Movies like "John Carter," an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' influential sci-fi novel series that is vastly underrated, and unfortunately so underseen its very cool-sounding sequels never materialized

Likewise, "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" was a ludicrously expensive film based on another hugely influential sci-fi series, and it had some of the most gorgeous visuals in a sci-fi movie, as well as one of the single best opening scenes in a sci-fi movie ever. Unfortunately, the movie was far too idiosyncratic for general audiences, and it featured two incredibly lifeless main performances and a script that got more conventional and dull with every passing minute. 

This happened often in the 2010s, as audiences started becoming weary of non-IP-driven big-budget blockbusters, until the only big-budget genre movies were franchises. There would be no "Mortal Engines" saga, or "A Wrinkle in Time" trilogy.

A beautiful mess

When it comes to "Ant-Man," any time the movie focused away from just exploring the Quantum Realm and showing how cool this section of the Marvel universe is, it lost momentum. There are some great sci-fi concepts like the buildings being alive, and for a moment it actually convinces you that there may be room for yet another story of a sci-fi tyrant being taken down by a revolution of his oppressed subjects after all.

Then there's MODOK, the weirdest, most pathetic, but also kind of cool new character in the film. He's a character that could be just a one-off scene-stealer in a 2010s sci-fi movie, only he has a decades-long history in the comics. Any time he's on screen, you wish there was a whole movie with him as the protagonist.

Sadly, as great as "Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania" is at pointing out things, it is not that good at developing or paying them off. This movie will not end up forgotten like most 2010s sci-fi movies due to its connection to the MCU, but it does feel like the first main Marvel movie that is out of time.