Marvel’s Phase 4 was intense, heavy, and quite complex, dealing with grief, new beginnings, and loss. Phase 5 which started with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (or Ant-Man 3), doesn’t change the heavy tone. And there is an aggravating factor: joining a universe of heroes was a difficult task, and now that it has multiplied into multiverses, it has only gotten worse.
For most fans, who are initiated but not always versed in the multiple intersecting stories, it’s getting harder and harder to keep up. I say this because to see and appreciate the least amount of fun in Ant-Man 3, without having watched the two previous Ant-Men and also Loki, Wandavision, Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness or Spider-Man 3: No Return Home, you will not be able to understand a lot of what is going on. And it’s not exactly worth seeing just 1 of them, you need to have seen at least 7. I saw and still found the average result, if it weren’t for the great performance of Jonathan Majors as Kang, the great antagonist of the hour, who was formally introduced in the last ( and sensational) episode of Loki.
The story takes us to San Francisco, where Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is happy, famous, and cashing in on his Avenger status. Married to Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), Scott’s life is oddly arranged and of course, the hapless hero is going to be dragged into trouble or we wouldn’t have a movie. This happens through his daughter, Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton), who is secretly working on a communication device for the quantum realm – the universe “between space and time” in which her grandmother, Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), was imprisoned for 30 years. Obviously Janet – who was unaware of the project – is terrified when she learns about it, but she doesn’t have time to prevent the worst: they are all sucked into the quantum realm and the alternatives to escape are sparse. The greatest difficulty lies in a secret that the scientist has never shared with anyone: the figure of the dangerous Kang (Jonathan Majors), who today dominates as the Conqueror. He had been banished to this microscopic place outside time and space, and he found a partner in Janet to try to escape. When she realizes what his plan really is – to employ his knowledge and mastery of futuristic technology to create a totalitarian empire – she tricks him and flees. So now Kang wants revenge beyond breaking out of the quantum realm and following his conquest.
Separated in an unfamiliar place, we soon discover that Kang needs Scott’s thieving talent to overcome the last hurdle of his campaign, and then we see a succession of minor and major battles that try to stop the Conqueror’s success. This is the best spoiler-free summary of the story, visually excellent, with good jokes here and there, but too many characters and too little explanation. Strong characters like Hope and even Cassie have little relevance in the narrative and if it weren’t for Jonathan’s talent that brings a terrifying vein to Kang, we would be in a bad way. Having him at the heart of Phase 5 is one of the brightest points of the Marvel franchise. He’s scary and he never loses connection with his variant, He Who Remained, which we met in Loki.
This irregularity requires prior and deep knowledge of ALL characters to be able to follow, hurting the film a lot. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is not Marvel’s best content, but it is the most important to pave the way for the multiversal madness that is already underway. It suggests that maybe the MCU is curled up with too many variants (inside joke), but paradoxically it’s worth trusting further in their ability to wrap things up. After all, the film leaves us face-to-face with the new season of Loki, which is about to premiere. Loki was previously the one chosen by He Who Remained to replace him in the TVA, not forgetting either that it was this very same variant who actually defeated Kang in one of the timelines. So Loki is the main hope to give the Universe a chance. Knowing how versatile and smart Thor’s brother is, gave me an extra boost to enjoy the content. But stay alert! Do your homework BEFORE watching the movie!