There are now three Ant-Man movies for you to enjoy with the release of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. It once again features the return of everyone’s favorite size-shifting heroes played by Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lily, respectively.
With a 48% critical consensus, Ant-Man 3 ranks as one of the lower Marvel entries in terms of critical acclaim. Is it really as bad as they say? More importantly, where does it rank in the Ant-Man trilogy? Read on to find out how the Ant-Man movies ranked from worst to best.
3. Ant-Man (2015)
A part of me will always sneer at Ant-Man due to behind-the-scenes turmoil that ousted original director Edgar Wright. In another universe (or multiverse, if you will), the acclaimed director of Hot Fuzz and Baby Driver helms Ant-Man, crafts the best Marvel film to date, and paves the way for more auteurs to lend their creative visions to our beloved superheroes.
Alas, Wright departed the project for reasons, and Peyton Reed did his best to imitate the former director’s style. As such, Ant-Man has splashes of creativity but never rises to its potential.
Paul Rudd is outstanding in the title role, while Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly offer strong support as Hank and Hope Pym. Less effective is Corey Stoll, whose Darren Cross/Yellowjacket villain is more nuisance than menace.
Ant-Man entertains in spades, but one can’t help but feel disappointed at what could have been if the original vision was seen out.
2. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)
I came away mixed on Ant-Man 3. On the one hand, it is an ambitious MCU entry with eye-popping action and imagination to spare, featuring a unique villain in Jonathan Majors’ ferocious Kang. On the other hand, this bloated chapter tries to do too much within its 124-minute runtime and eventually crumbles under its own weight. However, it doesn’t deserve the flak it’s received from many critics, but I would be lying if I called it a very good movie.
Instead, Quantumania feels like an ambitious misfire that probably needed another year or so of development to iron out its problems. Coming off the heels of James Cameron’s dazzling Avatar: The Way of Water doesn’t help, as Ant-Man’s VFX look paltry by comparison — never once do our characters look like they’re in another world. Many of the comedy beats fall flat — Bill Murray, in particular, disappoints in a brief cameo — and the action, while larger-than-life, gets a tad overwhelming.
I’m not exactly sold on Paul Rudd’s dramatic chops, either. Peyton Reed makes a valiant attempt to turn Scott Lang into more than just a lovable B-grade hero, but the heavy-handed drama and intense action don’t exactly play to Rudd’s strengths as an actor. His easygoing charm gets lost amidst the nonstop barrage of unconvincing CGI, as does his typically sharp comic timing.
Supporting players Michelle Pfeiffer and Evangeline Lilly do what they can in underwritten roles while Michael Douglas sleepwalks through an endless onslaught of terrible dialogue. Similarly, after initially appearing as a threat, Kang becomes a walking monologue whose goals are never quite understood beyond wanting to destroy the other Kangs for reasons unbeknownst to the viewer.
Now, all of that said, I still dug Quantumania. There’s plenty to criticize, but the film held my attention for two hours, occasionally made me laugh (M.O.D.O.K. was a nice touch), and surprised me with its quirky choices. I appreciated the endless wave of bizarre creatures and the endless possibilities presented by this strange world. I also dug Kathryn Newton’s Cassie Lang, whose love for her father is matched only by her plucky spirit — though I’m still trying to understand how she built the Quantum thingy at the film’s beginning.
Quantumania is a mess, but it also feels like a step in the right direction for the MCU. It may go down as one of the lesser Marvel efforts, but I’ll never fault a film for dreaming big.
1. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
None of the Ant-Man films are bad, nor are they standouts in the MCU. All three films work as bite-sized comedies aided by Rudd’s sturdy presence, but I can’t say I’ve ever walked out of an Ant-Man entry with a desire to rewatch it a second time immediately.
So, forgive me if I admit to not remembering a thing about Ant-Man and the Wasp, the 2018 sequel that arrived immediately following Avengers: Infinity War. I saw it once in theaters and, considering everything that happens in Infinity War, walked away disappointed — did we need this weird comedy beat set during a tense time in the Marvel universe?
At least, that was my assessment five years ago.
However, I enjoyed Ant-Man and the Wasp quite a bit on a recent rewatch. It’s leagues better than most of the MCU’s latest outings, and its kinetic energy is easy to latch onto. Director Peyton Reed leans into the comic trappings with vigor and finds unique ways to show off Ant-Man’s ridiculous powers — the San Francisco chase is a blast! It’s still B-level Marvel at best and a far cry from something like Captain America: Winter Soldier. However, everyone involved brings their A-game (particularly Laurence Fishburne, who has yet to return to the franchise for some reason) and elevates Ant-Man and the Wasp into a surprisingly robust superhero outing.
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