As the stage-setter for the MCU's Phase Five, Quantumania is a success. It further explores the Multiverse and introduces us to Kang (Jonathan Majors), a menacing, dimension-hopping villain. But for those who enjoyed the lower stakes of past Ant-Man movies - as well as those who were hoping the MCU would course-correct after a so-so Phase Four - it's often a failure. Even in the Quantum Realm, all you'll find is another building block of content that will come out quarterly but leave no lasting impression.
Peyton Reed joins James Gunn as the only director to take an Avenger (or adjacent team) from start to finish. While his quirky humor served the first two films well, he's operating with one hand tied behind his back. The movie wants to be a major universe-altering event. So the trademark goofiness, while welcome, often feels out of place. The first two entries featured clever uses of Ant-Man's size, like a big showdown on a model train track or a tiny car chase through the hills of San Francisco. None of that happens here, so there's no sense of scale or innovation. This is another superhero movie where the powers are often sidelined for punching.
But there are some wonderful moments. An early meeting at a Quantum Realm watering hole suggests a sub-atomic Deep Space Nine, with all sorts of odd creatures cutting deals and trying to get laid. And a major plot action - which I won't spoil - nearly unravels when Scott starts seeing billions of possible versions of himself, leading to an existential crisis. And just wait until you meet M.O.D.O.K. These bursts of creativity make it easier to ignore some dodgy VFX work, repetitive action and Evangeline Lilly's complete lack of screen presence.
Still, if Avengers past and future are destined to face off against Kang, it's a good thing Jonathan Majors has the chops required for such a major part. I first noticed the talented actor in 2019's The Last Black Man in San Francisco. His star has risen quickly, with an HBO series, a Spike Lee movie and Creed III on the horizon. He imbues Kang with the right amount of cruelty, ego and obsession to make him believably dangerous.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is too big to fail, but it can't measure up when it comes to the little things.