The first reviews for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania are in, and well, Marvel Phase 5 looks to be off to a wobbly start. While there’s plenty of praise for Jonathan Major as Kang the Conqueror, the third film in the Ant-Man series has seemingly lost the franchise’s lighter “palate cleansing” charm by making Paul Rudd go up against the MCU’s newest big bad instead of his fun, breezy, lower stake antics.
Quantumania is also considerably more FX-laden thanks to the film taking place almost entirely inside the sci-fi world of the Quantum Realm. Given Marvel’s recent track record with questionable CGI, that creative decision may affect the film’s reception. The critics are certainly divided on how well the spectacle lands with some comparing Quantumania favorably to Star Wars while others miss the low-key charm of the first two films.
You can see what the reviews are saying below:
Mike Ryan, Uproxx:
I feel like I’m reading a comic I like, but a run I’m not totally into. At least not yet. And with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, like I said, I think Peyton Reed has given us an installment that, with the material that has to be introduced, is about the best version this could be. But I found myself missing the more grounded and funny world of Scott Lang that the prior movies had set up.
Charles Pulliam-Moore, The Verge:
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, from director Peyton Reed, wants to make you laugh. But it also wants you to think it’s cool — kind of like a dad who doesn’t know how to relate to you now that you’re both adults who can recognize that he’s always sorta only had maybe one or two good bits. Quantumania knows those bits have worked in the past, and it gamely whips them out as part of the Ant-Man series’ most visually imaginative stories yet. But rather than coasting on its sense of dad-focused humor, Quantumania tries to switch things up a bit by mainlining a few doses of whatever psychedelics Doctor Strange has been brewing and inviting you to partake in a little madness that doesn’t always make sense.
Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly:
Thirty films in, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become not unlike a box of chocolates; the high-fructose casing is guaranteed, but the flavors and the mouthfeel change. The original Ant-Man, whose cowriters included Adam McKay (Anchorman, The Big Short) and Edgar Wright (Baby Driver) had the rat-a-tat snap of a story rooted more in high multiplex comedy than mythology. This one is penned alone by Jeff Loveness, an alum of Jimmy Kimmel and Rick and Morty, and his take is both noisier and more patently absurd: a spinning Gravitron that shoots off wry one-liners, clangorous CG fight scenes, and shameless sentiment in equal, if hectic, measure.
Nick Schager, The Daily Beast:
A chore of diminishing returns, it’s an adventure that plays out almost wholly on green screens, here used by desktop artists to realize the Quantum Realm, a subatomic world that resembles a cross between Star Wars and Avatar, except with far more garish and muddy blues, oranges, and yellows. It’s a murky mess of an artificial setting that no doubt made filming during COVID easier, not that the pandemic is any excuse for the chintzy aesthetics and leaden writing of this forgettable franchise entry.
Joshua Yehl, IGN:
To Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’s credit, it manages to supersize this adventure while still maintaining the awkward, deadpan humor that makes Paul Rudd’s portrayal of Scott Lang so endearing. Yet in its haste to do so much, some of Quantumania’s characters, ideas, and plotlines feel underdeveloped – and that’s not the first time that’s been said about a recent MCU movie. The saving grace is Jonathan Majors’ show-stopping performance as the chilling new villain Kang, but not even he can conquer the MCU’s tendency to get in its own way.
Brian Truitt, USA Today:
These days, nothing is safe from becoming an all-out Marvel epic, and so goes “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” Gone are the usual quirky personalities and breezy shenanigans (we miss you, ginormous Hello Kitty Pez dispenser!), though returning director Peyton Reed pumps in enough family bonding and signature whimsy to complement the massive world building and a new time-traveling big bad played by a terrific Jonathan Majors. Laying important groundwork for Marvel’s film future unfortunately means losing some of the franchise’s essential scrappy charm.
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter:
Although this film features some laughs … humor is generally in shorter supply. Which is probably appropriate for a film featuring one of Marvel’s scariest-ever villains in the form of Kang the Conqueror (a truly fearsome Jonathan Majors, instantly establishing a career annuity) and a potential cataclysm involving … actually, I don’t know what, to be honest. I just know that it’s really, really, bad, and that between the Multiverse and the Quantum Realm, you practically need an advanced physics degree to figure out what the hell is going on in Marvel films these days.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety:
The script, by former “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and “Rick and Morty” writer Jeff Loveness, is making up the rules as it goes along, which is why “Quantumania” whisks you through its visually zapping action without generating any real investment in it. In a way, the ultimate investment is offscreen: Will the film successfully launch Phase 5? To even wonder about the answer is to miss that the only real conqueror in “Quantumania” is the MCU.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania shrinks into theaters on February 17.