March 29, 2023

This post contains spoilers for “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.”

Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has officially arrived with “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” While critics are mostly sour on the 31st entry into the MCU, audiences seem to love it. Following the divisive Phase 4, “Quantumania” offers a trippy, quippy, action-packed flick that dives head first into the wonderfully bizarre world of the Quantum Realm and introduces the next big bad, Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors). It may not be as universe-altering as fans had hoped, but it does lay solid groundwork for what’s to come in a fun science-fiction-heavy adventure story.

Ever since the post-credits scene of the original “Iron Man,” audiences expect to see how each new entry into the MCU connects to the ever-expanding cinematic universe — a tricky tightrope for filmmakers as they try to tell their own complete stories while still planting seeds for the franchise’s future. “Quantumania” pays off previous “Ant-Man” entries, is relatively self-contained, and sets up some huge things to come. The first “Ant-Man” introduced us to the concept of the Quantum Realm, while the second expanded on its mystery more, but it’s here we finally get to see it in all its weird glory. From creatures we’ve never seen before to surprise cameos to the usual spectacle-filled battle scenes and gasp-worthy post-credits scenes, let’s shrink down and explore the most mind-bending moments with Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and his Ant-family … It’s Quantum time!

Bill Murray In The MCU

After Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton) accidentally gets her family sucked into the Quantum Realm, the group is split up. Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), Hank (Michael Douglas), and Hope, aka the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), seek out a contact of Janet’s to help them get home. They arrive at an other-worldly bar that feels straight out of “Star Wars,” with incredible practical and VFX creatures littered throughout. The big surprise comes when a ship makes a far-too-close landing on the dining deck, and out walks Bill freakin’ Murray.

Bill Murray plays Lord Krylar, a one-time Freedom Fighter/ex-lover of Janet’s. He arrives with pomp and arrogance, eager to overshare their more lurid escapades with Hank and Hope. Before they get down to discussing where Cassie and Scott are, he orders them all a menu item he says will “change their lives.” This delicacy is a helpless squid-like alien you slurp down and eat while it’s still alive (yuck). Bill Murray is hilarious as usual, but he also reveals a devious side as it turns out he’s now Team Kang and sold out his ex. Our heroes orchestrate a daring escape, stealing his ship. Hank uses Pym Particles to enlarge another of the creatures, who is rightfully upset with Krylar for devouring their octo-buddy. We don’t officially see Bill Murray get eaten, so there’s a chance he could return to the MCU someday. Hank has bigger and better tricks up his sleeve, though. 

Hank’s Advanced Ant Army

Before we enter the Quantum Realm, Hank introduces Scott to a new colony of advanced hyper-intelligent ants capable of building their own technology. What seems like an off-hand remark pays off in a way we could never anticipate after the ants are also sucked into the Quantum Realm. Hank keeps getting odd signals in his hearing aids, which he assumes is just interference, but it turns out it’s coming from his ants. Yep, the already smarty-pants-ants got sucked into a different timeline of the Quantum Realm and evolved dramatically over thousands of years. During that time, they built technology to locate Hank and rally an army to help save the day. 

In any other franchise, this moment may seem too silly, but in an “Ant-Man” movie, it feels like the next logical step. As /Film’s Jeff Ewing put it, “This third ‘Ant-Man’ outing actually allows them to be better, to improve, and (spoiler) to evolve in every aspect, from social and technological to physical. They are literally better than ever!” Also, Hank’s comment, “Socialism may be a charged word, but we’ve got a lot to learn from them,” is hilarious and timely. Ants have always been allies on the battlefield for Hank and Scott; their iteration in this movie allows them to go from a punchline to a formidable foe. The ants are giants in the Quantum Realm, and when an army of thousands attack and drag off Kang, it’s an epic sight to behold — and we’re only scratching the surface.

Traveling To The Quantum Realm

If there were any concerns the trailers contained all the “good parts,” and the MCU would skimp on showing audiences the Quantum Realm, never fear, we are thrown into it within minutes. Cassie reveals that she’s designed a device to contact and receive signals from the QR, which immediately sends Janet into a panic and she pulls the plug, but it’s too late. The device fires back up on its own, and Scott, Hope, Janet, Cassie, Hank, and a colony of ants are sucked into this brave new world. As the heroes travel through our reality and increasingly shrink to a sub-atomic level, it’s a kaleidoscopic, dizzyingly gorgeous ride. 

The scene has a slight deja vu with a similar moment in “Multiverse of Madness” when America Chavez and Doctor Strange are thrust through the multiverse. Still, both are drastically different on a visual level. We see Scott dodging giant ants and office supplies as he tries desperately to catch up to his daughter — a heroic act he chose to do when he willingly lets go to be sucked in to save Cassie. We’re whipped around a boom-tube tunnel through space and time. It’s fast, flashy, and chaotic. The audience feels like they’re entering another realm with Scott, and once he lands on the other side, we’re not in Kansas … er, San Francisco anymore.

MODOK Attacks

Scott and Cassie come across a rag-tag group of Freedom Fighters comprised of various worlds Kang has conquered. After barely giving this father/daughter duo a moment to catch their breath, Kang’s soldiers appear with glowing domes for faces. Lasers fly, and there are explosions aplenty as Scott and Cassie run for it only to be cornered by Kang’s most feared hunter and the first live-action appearance of the fan-favorite villain, MODOK.

MODOK or “Mechanised Organism Designed Only for Killing” (which Scott hilariously points out is actually “M.O.D.O.F.K.”) is one of the weirder Marvel Comics villains, and it’s pretty fantastic that a major studio greenlit having this particular baddie show up in a multi-million dollar blockbuster. However, the reality of bringing MODOK to life is a bit of a mixed bag. His backstory from the comics is changed to be a reconstructed Darren Cross (Corey Stoll from “Ant-Man”). Who, after being sub-atomically crushed and banished to the Quantum Realm, was found by Kang and turned into this floating head, baby-limbed killing machine. 

MODOK is played chiefly for laughs, which mostly works because he has some of the movie’s funniest moments. The mind-blowing issue, not necessarily a good one, is the bizarre creative choice to use a pseudo-photo-realistic version of Corey Stoll’s face when his gold mask lifts. It looks more like something out of Steve Oedekerk’s “Thumb Wars” and stretches the uncanny valley to nightmarish lengths.

A Brief History Of Kang

Janet keeps her secrets close to the vest, but eventually, she fesses up to why everyone is so afraid of Kang. She reveals to Hope and Hank that he seemed like another stranded traveler when she first met Kang. He promised to get them both out if she helped him repair his Multiverse Power Core, which allows him to travel through time and space. Once the repairs are complete, Janet accidentally touches his ship and sees visions of Kang destroying countless civilizations. Janet uses Pym particles to blow up the core, rendering it useless. Shortly after this encounter, Hank rescues her, while Kang stays behind and begins his favorite pastime, conquering. 

This sequence is a bit of a “CliffsNotes” of Kang’s past, but what we are shown quickly sets up why Kang is such a threat. He operates with the same cold logic as Thanos. While their motivations are similar, at least Thanos only wanted to wipe out 50% of this universe. Kang, however, is willing to wipe out entire timelines that threaten his reign. Janet keeping this reveal to the movie’s midway point is a little convenient and feels more like a script choice than motivated by character. But it’s still a cool reveal, and we see Kang in a nearly comic-accurate suit on the big screen. Audiences will hopefully forgive the script contrivance for this particular geek-out moment.

Cassie Lang Vs. MODOK

Cassie Lang created her own suit while her dad was stuck in the Quantum Realm and the rest of the world was reeling from the blip. She hasn’t mastered her new abilities yet, but when MODOK arrives in the final battle, hoping to do some killing, Cassie stops him with a giant fist to the face. It’s a hilarious slow-motion shot followed by her tossing him around like Hulk did with Loki in “The Avengers” until he finally taps out. Cassie berates Darren for always being such a d***, and this simple revelation causes this mechanism for killing to have a change of heart.

MODOK’s design may be a tad rough, but he also delivers some of the biggest laughs in the final act. MODOK charges into battle, demanding to be called Darren again, and shouts his newfound battle cry: “I am not a d***!” It’s hysterical. Then later, when he’s dying from battle wounds, his final exchange with Scott is comedy gold. He may be suffering from slight revisionist history when he says Scott was always like a brother to him. We get the classic deadpan Paul Rudd reaction, and then it’s followed up with “At least I died … an Avenger,” which everyone finds confusing and awkward but half-heartedly agrees to let him think he died a hero. It’s a ridiculous moment and a perfectly silly end to this absurd character.

First Encounters Of The Quantum Kind

Once split up in the Quantum Realm, both groups come across their own bizarre band of Quantum misfits. Scott and Cassie are attacked by a fireball that retreats to a giant squid-like creature, only to be warded off by the warrior Jentorra, a being with a laser canon face, and their band of Freedom Fighters. Meanwhile, Janet takes Hank and Hope on a sting-ray-like creature to meet up with a group of rebels that look like alien versions of “Mad Max.” Janet greets the leader by chopping off his arm and stabbing him. He then regrows it and laughs, which Hank guesses is a bizarre greeting ritual. It only gets weirder from here…

The visuals in the Quantum Realm are unlike anything we’ve seen in the MCU, and it turns out that was the goal. Director Peyton Reed, told Vanity Fair, “It had to feel different than outer space in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ or Asgard in the ‘Thor’ movies.” He expanded that he told his designers to “open your portfolios and show us stuff that you’ve designed that maybe hasn’t found a place in any other thing- It can be the most whacked out idea. Let’s see if we can accommodate it storywise.” A great example is a brand new character created for the MCU named Veb. He’s a blob-like creature who, if you ingest his goo, acts as a universal translator. Reed wanted “whacked out?” Mission accomplished. 

The Final Battle

Ant-Man appears in Giant-Man form in the final battle to stop Kang from escaping the Quantum Realm with Cassie, but he’s not alone for long. Cassie sends out a message of hope to the people of the QR after freeing Jentarra and the others from prison, and they all join the fray. There is so much going on in this final battle. It’s one of the biggest and wildest yet, with countless species, giant-sized Scott and Cassie, the Wasp, and an army of technocratic ants all going up against Kang.

There are many great moments from this final fight, but one of the funniest is when Kang’s army blasts Veb (the holes-obsessed goo-creature), only to have him proclaim with exuberance, “I’ve got holes!” and then devour a whole battalion of bad guys. It’s a hilarious pay-off to the strangest, new fan-favorite addition to the MCU. 

There’s also some nice character growth for Scott. Initially, he wants to leave the hero’s life behind and focus on protecting Cassie, but by the end, he chooses to be the hero that will fight to save others again. When he teams up with Cassie, they live up to the “go big or go home” motto and wreck Kang’s world. Then, there’s Hank’s ant army deus ex-machina. Kang may have conquered many worlds, but he’s no match for thousands of giant, super-intelligent ants. It’s a jam-packed action sequence that’s bombastic and incredibly fun.

Scott And The Probability Storm

Scott dives into the Multiverse Core with the mission to re-shrink it. Once inside, another Scott appears. Then another and another, until there are thousands of Scotts (and one “Jack” from Baskin Robbins) trapped in a “Probability Storm” — a point where countless alternate Scotts appear based on every possible decision. Scott begins to run towards the source while one of his variants grows big. Giant variant Scott is made into string cheese and the other Scotts panic and pile on the real Scott. When it seems like he’s about to be suffocated, Cassie’s voice pierces through the chaos. No matter what universe Scott exists in, he’ll always choose to fight for his daughter. The Scotts rally and form a giant ant hill. Hope appears, and the two join forces to blast the core and shrink it to its original size.

This sequence proves a theory we already knew: You can never have too much Paul Rudd. Scott playing off his thousands of Ant-Man variants and one lone Baskin Robbins variant is pure joy. The “Probability Storm” is filled with humor, visual inventiveness, and the most unique sequence in the movie. It also connects on an emotional level. Cassie is the spark that unites all the Scotts and inspires them to rise to the occasion, pun intended, as thousands of Scotts climb on each other to help the real Scott reach the core. With Hope’s arrival, we get the entire Ant-family working together to save the day.

Mid And Post-Credit Scenes

After the heroes return to our world, Scott tries to convince himself that Kang is no longer a threat and everything will be okay. Smash to credits, and we find out everything is not okay. The mid-credits scene reveals the Council of Kangs (hundreds of Kang variants), led by three Kang variants. The Hollywood Reporter lists them as: “Immortus, an older, more powerful version of Kang from the far future, who wishes to eliminate all the inferior Kang variants; Rama-Tut, the ancient Egyptian pharaoh version of Kang; and the third Kang, a younger version in a futuristic blue suit, likely to be the Scarlet Centurion.” They discuss how Earth 616’s meddling with the multiverse will destroy everything they’ve built. The Council of Kangs looks to be the new “Infinity War”-level threat in the upcoming “Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.” 

Then there’s the post-credits scene, where we meet another Kang variant, Victor Timely. He speaks to a turn-of-the-century crowd, pontificating that time “shapes our lives, but perhaps we can shape it.” A concept we already know will only end badly for any Kang variant. Then, the camera pulls back to reveal Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Mobius (Owen Wilson) watching in the audience. Here we see the first tease for “Loki” Season 2, which looks to have Loki and Mobius traversing time to stop the Multiversal War foretold by He Who Remains. Both these scenes solidify that Kang is the new Thanos and that more interconnected, time-hopping, multiverse adventures await all our favorite MCU heroes. 

Read this next: The Most Brutal Moments In The MCU Ranked

The post The most mind-blowing moments of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, ranked appeared first on /Film.

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