Early Ant-Man 3 Reviews Are Mixed, But Everyone Loves Jonathan Majors

The infamous “trilogy curse” plagued many superhero franchises in the early 2000s. But for the most part, the MCU’s own trilogy cappers have offered satisfying conclusions. Sadly, this might not be the case for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the third standalone film starring Paul Rudd as Marvel’s pint-sized underdog.

Earlier today, the review embargo for the highly-anticipated sequel finally lifted, and the reviews are decidedly mixed. Critics are applauding the performance of Jonathan Majors, who makes his official debut as Kang the Conqueror. But aside from this, most seem to agree that the film goes too big and tries to accomplish way too much in the span of its two-hour runtime. You can check out a few highlights below.

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IGN’s Joshua Yehl notes that “in its haste to do so much, some of Quantumania’s characters, ideas, and plotlines feel underdeveloped”—something that has been plaguing other MCU projects of late. The film’s emotional center revolves around feelings of “abandonment and disappointment” between Scott Lang (Rudd) and his daughter, Cassie (Kathryn Newton); and both actors successfully “peel back the layers” of these ideas onscreen. Unfortunately, other characters are pushed to the sidelines, including Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym and — more surprisingly — co-headliner Evangeline Lilly’s Hope van Dyne/Wasp. But it sounds like the movie’s true MVPs are Majors and Michelle Pfeiffer, the latter of whom delivers a “reserved and powerful performance” as Janet van Dyne. 

Writing for /Film, Jeff Ewing called Majors “fantastic” as Marvel’s latest Avengers-level threat. But Quantumania “partially botches” his introduction by giving audiences “little insight into his motivations beyond reminders that Kangs seek to conquer the Multiverse because that’s what Kangs do.” Additionally, the movie fails to provide a sufficient display of the vllain’s power, which is “explained but never fully shown.” Ewing also had some gripes with the Quantum Realm’s presentation. Although it offers some “beautifully rendered space-scapes,” the sets occasionally seem “blatantly shallow,” with CGI that’s “disatrously cartoonish at times,” particularly when it comes to M.O.D.O.K., who appears as one of the film’s secondary antagonists.

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Collider’s Ross Bonaime argues that that Quantumania suffers from having to set up too much in Marvel’s larger Multiverse Saga. As a result, it loses some of the focus on its title characters. Regardless, his review claims that the Quantum Realm is “is far more interesting than anything in the previous two Ant-Man films.” Awarding the movie a B-, he writes that Quantumania “does a good job at really honing in on the things that worked in the first two films and expanding them,” including the use of Pym tech. But while Phase 5 is off to a “shaky start,” it still shows great promise thanks to Majors’ performance.

In his own review for The Hollywood Reporter, Frank Scheck says the Quantum Realm is “truly outstanding on every level,” whether it’s the grand sci-fi vistas or the “outrageous creatures” who occupy them. He also agreed that the film “works well on an emotional level” thanks to Scott and Cassie. But in his opinion, Majors’ “truly fearsome” Kang isn’t the most memorable villain in the sequel. Instead, that honor belongs to M.O.D.O.K., whom he confirms is “played by a former Ant-Man actor not listed in the film’s credits.”

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Germain Lussier of io9 admits that longtime MCU heads will enjoy Quantumania more than they don’t, since the film “[relies] heavily on the audience having a pre-existing connection with this franchise.” However, the story remains “uneven in terms of pacing and character,” and the abundance of exposition regarding the Quantum Realm can often “slow down the film’s momentum” and be “a little overwhelming.” But in the end, there’s enough “raw ambition” to make up for its lack of cohesion. Lussier also praised the scenes between Pfeiffer and Majors, even joking that the film could have been called “The Janet and Kang Show.”

Similarly, Kate Erbland warns viewers that the film is “not content to focus on its eponymous superhero,” which she refers to as “the classic MCU problem.” In a C+ review for IndieWire, Erbland writes that there’s “plenty of small-scale entertainment to be had” in Quantumania. But even with Majors playing “the MCU’s scariest bad guy to date,” the most seasoned MCU fans will still have a hard time understanding what makes Kang tick. The same goes for the Quantum Realm, whose “Star Wars-influenced world doesn’t just feel confusing; it can feel outright mean.”

Variety’s Owen Gleiberman describes Quantumania as simultaneously “fun and numbing.” It’s a “state-of-the-art exercise in world-building.” But in Gleiberman’s mind, there has never been a Marvel movie so preoccupied with setting up the “next dozen chapters” of the franchise. “If this is what Phase 5 looks like,” he writes, “God save us from Phases 6, 7 and 8.”

Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly seemed to compare the latest Ant-Man installment unfavorably to its two predecessors. Taking aim at screenwriter Jeff Loveness, she called his script “noisier and more patently absurd” than the first two films—“a spinning Gravitron that shoots off wry one-liners, clangorous CG fight scenes, and shameless sentiment in equal, if hectic, measure.” She still gave the film a B+ rating, but confessed that Majors was a “strange tonal fit” in the grand scheme of things, with his serious personality clashing with the overall lightheartedness of the sequel.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania hits theaters this Friday, February 17.

What do you think of these early reviews? Let us know in the comment section below!

Recommended Reading: Kang: The Saga Of The Once And Future Conqueror

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