Phase Five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicks off with Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania. It’s the third Ant-Man movie and reinstates Paul Rudd’s devious Scott Lang, who makes his first big screen appearance since 2019’s cataclysmic Avengers: Endgame.
Evangeline Lilly’s Hope van Dyne is also back, along with Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym and Michelle Pfeiffer’s Janet van Dyne. As the Ant-Man series ventures beyond known time and space, an important figure is about to step out of the shadows following the events of the Loki series.
Here’s what we’ve learned from the newly released Quantumania trailer.
1. The movie riffs on Scott’s status as an Avenger
We've come a long way since Baskin Robbins... or have we? Even in the wake of Avengers: Endgame, people are mistaking Ant-Man for Spider-Man, even when considering that Scott is now a high-profile celebrity attending glitzy events. A self-reflexive nod to the fact that Spider-Man: No Way Home has been Marvel’s box office hit since the release of Endgame?
It clearly indicates how Spider-Man’s iconography sweeps all before it, but of course, it also helps build a sense of residual sympathy towards Scott, forever the bridesmaid but never the bride. The Ant-Man movies have always been fuelled by this sense of underdog spirit, aided and abetted by the fact that the character’s previous solo adventures have been pleasingly low on the ‘saving the world’ stakes.
That may be why he’s underrated, but that could all be about to change…
2. Kathryn Newton is installed as Cassie Lang
Emma Fuhrmann portrayed the grown-up iteration of Scott’s daughter Cassie in Avengers: Endgame. It was one of the movie’s most affecting sequences, movingly emphasising the passage of time and Scott’s alienation as he emerged from the Quantum Realm to confront a post-snap world.
Fuhrmann has now been replaced by Kathryn Newton, the scene-stealing star of the terrific body swap horror-comedy Freaky. And Cassie sports some serious scientific ability, if not exactly the discipline that goes with it. Case in point: when she establishes a direct link to the mind-pulverizing Quantum Realm and causes everyone to be sucked into it, including Scott, Hope, Hank and Janet.
Cassie’s character arc is confirmed by a brief shot of her running alongside Scott while suited up. This would appear to confirm her transformation into Stature, one of her comic book alter-egos. Like her father, she can shrink and grow on command, and can even do so without the use of her suit. However, it’s currently unclear if the movie will import this aspect of her character.
3. The Quantum Realm is realised for the first time
Previously something of an abstract concept, the Quantum Realm now takes centre stage. Judging from the trailer, it resembles one of the far-off planets from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, and there’s a clear nod to the Mos Eisley cantina sequence from Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope.
The Quantum Realm is where Scott found himself stranded between the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, emerging at the onset of the latter to confront everything he had left behind.
4. Jonathan Majors appears as Kang the Conqueror
Here is the most explicit link to date between the MCU’s theatrical slate and their streaming content. At the end of the acclaimed series Loki, the charismatic Jonathan Majors made a strong impression as a multiversal variant of the powerful comic book villain Kang, named He Who Remains.
Majors portrayed the character as a deceptively whimsical, cape-swirling enigma, but we can already see how Majors is shading Quantumania’s iteration of Kang.
For one thing, he’s facially scarred, which physically distinguishes him from the Loki variant. However, his vocal delivery and body language are most significant, striking a significantly more sinister tone as he deploys seductive rhetoric on the overlooked Scott. Note how he addresses our title character as ‘Ant-Man’, as opposed to glibly referring to him as Spider-Man, implicitly supporting his value as a character.
Such psychological games will surely help cement Phase Five’s very own Thanos, a character set to begin even more significant in Marvel Phase Six with the movies Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars.
5. Janet is deeply scared of something
As a veteran of the Quantum Realm, Janet is well-positioned to react fearfully. However, what is she truly afraid of? Is it the soon-to-be-significant Kang the Conqueror? This is where the MCU potentially gets confusing as we’ve glimpsed Kang within the multiverse but not within the Quantum Realm, so we’ll see if those disparate plot threads start to match up.
Is she scared of Bill Murray’s briefly glimpsed character? Murray was first unveiled at Comic-Con 2022 where it was also revealed that MODOK will be playing a role in the movie. Who is that, ask all the Marvel initiates?
Put simply, MODOK is a human-cyborg cross-over and his acronym can be read in several different ways, one of which is Mental/Mobile/Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing. With more than four decades of comic book history under his belt and multiple character iterations, MODOK has a strong pedigree as a popular and powerful antagonist.
Could it be that Kang isn’t actually the villain of Quantumania but rather a deuter-antagonist who gives way to MODOK?
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania is released at Cineworld on February 17, 2023. What did you spot in the trailer? Check it out again and drop us a message @Cineworld.
Don't forget that the climactic instalment of Marvel Phase 4, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, is released at Cineworld on November 11.