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Quantumania Embiggens the MCU with Some Good Ol' Science Fiction

“It’s never too late to stop being a dick.”

Ever watch The Weird Al Show? Or the Saturday morning Back to the Future cartoon? You can thank director Payton Reed for those fun times (along with the coolest episode of The Mandalorian), and now he’s injecting the big screen with hefty doses of classic sci-fi, making Ant-Man the most visually iconic series in the MCU.

Blowhards will tell you that science fiction is about asking The Big Questions. About learning, through gritty introspection, that when we gaze into our navel, our navel gazes into us.

But they’re wrong.

I’m a student of philosophy. I’ve studied at the feet of Boethius, Søren Kierkegaard, Camus⁠—you name it. I realize how arrogant this sounds, but once you've grappled with The Big Questions alongside history’s sharpest minds, you don’t need anyone from Hollywood trying to join the fray.

Science fiction is really about asking, “What if?” For example, what if you shrunk into a tiny universe and got involved in a crazy rebellion? And what if you brought your goofy family with you, all with their own unique powers? And what if you had to stop that rebellion in order to save your own world?

Now we’re talking.

Thanks to its endless creativity, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is nonstop roller coaster through an alien world. Telepaths who know when you're lying. Hitching a ride on a giant bat. Monstrous creatures from your nightmares that turn out to be very polite. Living buildings that talk. Purple skies and mind-reading ships. That classic, slightly hostile bar where the screwball alien races drink together.

Great as the visuals are, the Ant-Man films are special because they focus on the small things. (Get it?) When Sam Raimi made Spiderman 2 (which might still be my favorite comic book adaptation) he said, “I hope people are not hoping it's bigger and better. Hopefully, they'll think it's smaller and better.” Spider-man was going up against a new enemy (Doc Ock), someone who could defeat him, but the real drama was around Peter Parker’s intimate life, his inability to pay rent, the handsome astronaut flirting with his crush, and Aunt Mae trying to hold it together while her finances fall apart. Spider-man 2 works because it’s a powerful, small story that just happens to star Spider-man.

When I saw the first Ant-Man movie, I wasn’t looking forward it because it looked like more of the same. Snarky guy gets powers and we all learn to root for him. Right? Wrong. Ant-Man broke the mold by focusing on a guy who just wanted to see his daughter. While Guardians of the Galaxy deals with “found family,” the Ant-Man series compliments with stories about holding onto related family. While the action is great and all, Ant-Man kept us on the edge of our seats because Scott was always on the edge of losing his daughter.

The next two films follow up with satisfying doses of the same humorous, intimate storytelling, even underneath alien skies, which explains why, amongst a cluster of larger-than-life superheroes, Ant-Man is always outstanding.

Final Analysis: great fun and great themes. I rate it seven out of seven holes. (ifykyk)

Adam D. Jones is a writer, historian, and sometimes musician who’s secretly jealous of Ant-Man because he wishes he could shrink smaller than his 6’6” frame and hide behind someone, just once.


  1. I agree with almost all of this ... while some shots were very reminiscent - and you might even say derivative - of Star Wars, it was a fun ride, start to finish, perhaps even worthy of a second paid viewing. "Your buildings talk?" "Yours don't?" That's the line I'm taking with me....

  2. At some point, I don't know when, I'm going to get pretend angry with someone and yell, "I HAVE HOLES!?!?!?!"


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