Welcome to Commentary Commentary, where we sit and listen to filmmakers talk about their work, then share the most interesting parts. In this edition, Rob Hunter revisits the lackluster Marvel film, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
It’s 2067, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has just entered Phase Thirty-Five, and the wedding of Moondragon and 3-D Man is about to be disrupted by Madcap and his pain-free minions. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s instead go all the way back to 2023 as comic book movies appear to be experiencing box-office doldrums brought on by a combination of audience fatigue and dwindling creativity. Both Marvel and DC are seeing diminishing returns despite their disparate strategies — Marvel moving forward with a grand, overarching plan, and DC just throwing shit at the wall until James Gunn can get things in order — and the latest to hit home video looking for a second life is Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
The third Ant-Man film is something of a dud as it forgets everything that made the character and the original film stand out — namely, their practical distance from the epic shenanigans of the MCU. The first movie is a fun heist flick with a charismatic ensemble and superpowered but lowkey stakes. The latest film spends almost all of its running time in the Quantum Realm, a CG/soundstage landscape populated with rejects from the Guardians of the Galaxy films, and precisely none of it is all that interesting.
But enough of what I think about the movie, let’s hear what the filmmakers have to say! Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)
Commentators: Peyton Reed (director), Jeff Loveness (writer)
1. This may surprise you, but Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is Loveness’ first produced screenplay. “I don’t know if I told you that when you hired me,” offers Loveness.
2. Reed says that the opening prologue’s feeling of isolation was meant to invoke something like Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven (1992).
3. Gonna go ahead and give you a beat to stop laughing at #2.
4. Loveness had never actually seen Welcome Back, Kotter (1975-1979)
5. The guy walking his dog at 3:12 is Mark Everett aka E from the band The Eels. His father Hugh was the first scientist to “create” the concept of parallel worlds, “and that’s why I asked my friend E to be in the movie.”
6. Reed is a big big fan of I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson.
7. The coffee shop owner is played by Ruben Rabasa who actually had a small role in Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) but was ultimately cut out.
8. The big bazaar scene where Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and his daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) are taken once in the Quantum Realm was filmed at London’s Pinewood Studios. The stage was meant to be filled with a base of dirt, but someone somehow screwed up and instead received a truck load of manure. It wasn’t discovered until Reed and others entered the soundstage to begin setting up only to realize it was full of shit.
9. David Dastmalchian voices the alien creature Veb. He played a human character in the first two Ant-Man films, but there was no room for the ex-con gang this time around. Reed calls him his good luck charm, adding that “you can’t make an Ant-Man movie without David Dastmalchian.” So suck it Michael Peña!
10. Reed worked with Katy M. O’Brian on The Mandalorian, and wanted to create a character for her here.
11. The restaurant where Hank (Michael Douglas), Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), and Hope (Evangeline Lilly) have lunch is loosely inspired by two things — Douglas Adams’ Restaurant at the Edge of the Universe, and the wait staff at Hollywood’s Musso & Frank Grill.
12. Composer Christophe Beck claims that Cassie’s theme — first heard at 43:15 — is Ant-Man’s theme backwards. Neither speaker can confirm or deny.
13. “I still can’t believe we got M.O.D.O.K. in this movie,” says Reed, adding that Marvel has had numerous discussions as to how to bring him into other films before finally finding a way here.
14. Loveness recalls calling and pitching his M.O.D.O.K. reveal — that Ant-Man‘s (2015) big bad, Yellowjacket (Corey Stoll), was repurposed after being sucked into the Quantum Realm — to Stoll, and the actor was left giggling on the other end of the phone.
15. Loveness thinks Jonathan Majors is “the most exciting actor of his generation.”
16. They want to see the scene at 1:00:50 where Kang (Majors) sends M.O.D.O.K. flying across the room to slam up against a wall turned into a meme.
17. Majors was having difficulty nailing a particular exchange during the scene where he has both Scott and Cassie in jail cells, and Reed suggested he try it again with Kang feeling pity for Scott. It was exactly what Majors — and Kang — needed.
18. The goal was to beat up Scott Lang to the point that the film’s third act becomes Taken with Rudd doing his best Liam Neeson to get his daughter back. “The underdog dad hero, that’s a great little movie trope.”
19. Spitballing over what exactly the “probability storm” would encompass included pitches for a dream sequence with Joe Montana, a large ant voiced by Werner Herzog, and more. “In the last movie we talked about quantum entanglement, which is sort of a heavy thing, but we did our comedic take on it which is basically All of Me,” says Reed, adding that they ultimately landed on the Multiplicity effect this time around.
20. The “ooze gloves” that Douglas uses to pilot the ship were called “wangers” by the primarily British crew during production.
21. “I will burn them out of time for what they’ve done to me,” is one of Reed’s favorite lines from Loveness’ script.
22. Kang was more jokey and casual in early drafts before they decided to double down on his ruthlessness and pity.
23. They had fun with the super giant Ant-Man and gave real thought to featuring a kaiju-like battle involving another giant entity.
24. Veb was one of the very last characters to come together, a last-minute creation right before Loveness’ deadline, and he was thrilled to see the little guy with a fascination for holes become a standout hit with audiences.
25. Majors improvised the “I am Kang!” at 1:39:54.
26. Loveness is a big Lord of the Rings fan, and Boromir’s (Sean Bean) death scene was an inspiration for M.O.D.O.K.’s final moments.
27. They both loved the idea of taking an epic movie with large-scale clashes and ending it with a fight between two dudes, sans powers, in a room.
Best in Context-Free Commentary
“Everyone seems to have a secret except Scott Lang.”
“You don’t want to get bogged down in ‘how can they breathe?’”
“Hank Pym was just wrestling with a piece of Covid.”
“This is about as Rick & Morty as we get here.”
“No one does better table eating than Bill Murray.”
“Ant-Man and the Wasp are one of the only true superhero couples.”
“He loves to lounge.”
“I think Prince would have loved Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania.”
“That Starship Troopers energy was really cool to hit.”
I may not be a fan of the film, but it’s clear that both Reed and Loveness share a love for the finished product and an appreciation of the worlds they’re lucky enough to be building. The pair point out some of the decision-making that went into various choices, spread love around to the cast and crew, and tease just how much of a threat Kang will be for the Avengers going forward. It’s a solid commentary for fans.
Read more Commentary Commentary from the archives.
Related Topics: Commentary Commentary, Marvel Cinematic Universe