The Marvel Cinematic Universe had its golden era back in its last three phases. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and Hulk were all extremely popular heroes. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone with even a passing knowledge of comic books not having at least heard of these iconic characters. We had some lesser-known characters like Black Widow, Hawkeye and Wanda, but they were somewhat secondary characters in the stories. It was a good time, ’cause the MCU offered something for everyone.
After the events of Avengers: Endgame, Phase Four began, and we lost lots of the primary characters in one way or another. Tony Stark sacrificed himself to kill Thanos. Steve Rogers passed the title down and retired. Hulk and Thor went their separate ways, both losing the warrior aspect of their personas, delving into being more in touch with their emotions. Really, the only remaining characters from Phase One that would remotely be considered household names were Doctor Strange, Spider-Man (on loan from Sony) and Black Panther (kind of a stretch on this one, but I think the social ramifications of this series thrust it into the spotlight).
Phase Four brought a shift in focus from iconic characters to more of the lesser-known heroes from Marvel Comics. The Eternals and Shang-Chi joined the story with decent films, but not close to the excitement the previous years brought. With the exception of the wall-crawler, these films failed to resonate with audiences (they were still profitable but didn’t move the needle for most casual fans).
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania introduces Phase Five. Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly return to their roles as Scott Lang and Hope van Dyne, respectively. After Scott’s daughter, Cassie (Kathryn Newton), has an experiment go wrong, Scott, Hope, Cassie and Hope’s parents, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), are sucked into the Quantum Realm. Having been trapped there for 30 years, Janet knows the evil that was exiled here: an incredibly powerful villain named Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors).
Searching for a way home, the family is forced into trying to save themselves while keeping Kang imprisoned within the Quantum Realm.
Fans of the Disney+ show, Loki, already know a little about Kang, who was known only as “He Who Remains.” This character alluded to there being many variants of himself, all evil. He mentioned inventing the TVA to hold these variants at bay, preventing them from wiping out entire timelines. Alas, Sylvie kills him, unleashing a multiverse with timelines that cannot be pruned. This single act would allow the evil Kangs to seek shelter in these new dimensions, protected from the TVA. And now, Ant-Man and his whole family are forced to face but only one of these versions.
From a fan’s point of view, Kang is the first credible threat that the MCU has faced since Thanos. With the Mad Titan, however, it felt like the heroes had a fighting chance. Thanos may have had the Infinity Gauntlet, but I always felt that Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and Thor would be able to take him down. They had power, but they also had incredible tactical prowess. Even when things were their darkest, I never gave up hope.
Here in Phase Five, we don’t have those characters anymore, but there is some hope. The Guardians of the Galaxy take center stage very soon. Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) will return as Captain America. The vampire, Blade, will soon be unleashed. We will also be introduced to the Thunderbolts, as well as see the return of Captain Marvel (Brie Larson). Add in Shuri as the new Black Panther and we may have an army to fight Kang.
But none of these characters, as we know them right now, have any shot at defeating him.
Phase Six will bring in the Fantastic Four, which will make things a little more interesting, thus setting the stage for Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, set to release in 2025. So, we have some time to solidify these new heroes, hopefully to a level that surpasses the ones who took on Thanos, ’cause they will need it. Thanos may have had the power to destroy our single instance in the multiverse with a snap of his fingers, but Kang has the ability to wipe out timelines entirely.
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania is a film that balances action, drama, suspense and humor very well. It’s not full of slapstick humor like Deadpool or Guardians of the Galaxy. Yes, the film has a minor antagonist in M.O.D.O.K., who induces laughs the moment he appears, but that character has an arc that I hope continues into future projects.
Scott is a very sarcastic dude who makes funny quips, but when the threat to his family becomes real, humor is reserved, and a more heroic version of the character comes to life. The same could be said for the Wasp, as well. Hope is ready, willing and able to scrap with Kang, even if it may be a losing effort.
There were many times during the film that I wondered, “Would they actually kill this character off?” At the moments when that may or may not happen, I was on the edge of my seat. Even Kang, himself, for all the evil he does in the film, shows some emotions that elicit a sympathetic tingle for him, albeit very short in time. All of these emotions blend into something that I think every fan will love.
Needless to say, I couldn’t find anything about Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania that I did not like. It gets a perfect five out of five stars. If this is the direction the MCU will be taking for the rest of its phases, I feel fans who lost interest will flock back in droves. Quantumania is what you get when the original Star Wars trilogy meets Dune. Add in the amazing work by all involved, you have quite possibly the best MCU film in almost four years.