Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’: A standout villain placed within a slosh of multiversal shenanigans



Paul Rudd and Jonathan Majors in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023).

Short man syndrome — better known as a Napoleon complex — is best defined as an aggressive demeanor fueled by an insecurity in one’s stature. I myself lie on the cusp of the standard male height in 5’9” and have found blissful ignorance to be the greatest remedy to this mentality. The real trick is to make the top shelf your friend instead of your enemy.

Despite my personal criticisms and often hopeful aspirations, a life of petiteness will trump gianthood any day of the week. For nearly a decade, one tiny, titled hero has continued to prove that point, with his third film ironically going bigger than any story before it.

Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is director Peyton Reed’s third go at the world’s smallest family, with the couple of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lily) playing the titular roles.

Out in the West Coast of San Francisco, Scott and Hope have taken a small break from their superhero escapades that helped save the world from the mad titan Thanos in “Avengers: Endgame.” A now 18-year-old Cassie (Kathryn Newton) — one of many characters who lived on during Marvel’s nexus event in “the blip” — has turned to a life of activism. Believing her dad to have given up on his heroic endeavors, the father/daughter combo that gave the previous two films part of their lovable charm has since spoiled rotten.

At dinner with Hope’s parents Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), Cassie reveals a science project she has been working on through the years. Sending a signal to the Quantum Realm — a tiny dimension where time and space works differently — the family is suddenly pulled into a separate multiverse and dropped smack into the middle of an ongoing rebellion. 

Forced to join the fight against Kang (Jonathon Major) — a time-traveling conqueror — defeating him is the only chance they all have of getting back home.

Technically the smallest setting for any Marvel movie up to this point, “Quantumania” dresses as a cinematic masterclass that simply makes no sense.

A tale centered around the extreme that is infinity, without standards for reason, inventive creativity quickly turns to a puddle of senseless glop. I was never bored of what I was watching, but I quickly became tired of it.

Its two preceding films in “Antman” and the sequel that added “The Wasp” to its tagline saw a blend of charmed humor and the ability to make science seem rational. Shrinking to a subatomic level is nonexistent within our real world, but these stories gave a fun take on what it could look like.

The only fun thing about “Quantumania” was the villain, which Marvel should look to as their final straw for weaving an impactful story. In spite of the multiversal space garbage that has trended along the franchise’s recent canon, Kang has been given big shoes to fill as the universe’s next big bad. Thankfully, the actor chosen seems to be the only one willing to build upon the fandom that made Marvel special in the first place.

Majors plays the conqueror. His intimidation is strongest when he is silent and holding all the cards, but you never lose sight of the rage he has used to slaughter trillions. A mind entrenched in the fables of time and space, seeing the constructs as mere boxes to break out from, this is a villain that is driven by one purpose. Thanos stopped at half the universe. Kang is going for a clean slate.

A sad start to phase five of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, “Quantumania” has continued to ride the wave of Marvel mediocrity in its own overzealous way. Grounded by one man — not Rudd, though his charisma is still welcome — it is the villain that must now save the heroes from the faulty plotlines which surround them. Leia said it perfectly with her message to an ancient Obi-Wan Kenobi. 

Help me Kang the Conqueror. You’re my only hope.