Yes, There Are Scenes During and After the “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” End Credits

Two Paul Rudds facing each other in shock in Ant-Man costumes.

Wacky Scott Lang vs. Serious Scott Lang: who wins?

Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe begins! Paul Rudd returns for his fifth MCU outing and the third film in the Ant-Man trilogy! Unless they make more and it isn’t a trilogy! Which is just as well, because we’ve never had a literal, cohesive, hermetically self-contained MCU trilogy anyway. None of the first three Thor films resembles the other, the arcs of Iron Man and Captain America are incomplete without the four Avengers films, and Ant-Man’s life likewise had pivotal moments in Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Endgame. I’d love to pretend Guardians of the Galaxy will be the exception come May, but the story of Star-Lord and Gamora in Volume 3 won’t make sense without the traumatic events of Avengers: Infinity War as well as Endgame. As their multiverse presently stands, there’s been no such credible thing as a “Marvel trilogy” since Blade.

After a three-month moment of silence for us all to meditate on the fallout from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the MCU’s back with its 31st big-screen chapter, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, ostensibly directed by returning Ant-maestro Peyton Reed (he of Bring It On and the unjustly forgotten Down with Love), whose sensibilities are definitely felt in the film’s first ten minutes and its last twenty, but not nearly so much during the long, dour, draggy, perfunctory infodump and overextended Star Wars Cantina interlude between them, like an endless row of empty, pastel-graffitied boxcars separating engine and caboose.

Previously on “Ant-Man Family”: after playing a major part in saving trillions of lives in Endgame, affable ex-con Scott Lang followed up exactly as most ordinary folks would: he’s written a bestselling memoir. He’s also readjusting to parental life, though not without some awkwardness. While he was stuck in the Quantum Realm, his daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton from HBO’s Big Little Lies) had to learn to live without him or any other support while he was gone and the rest of their insectoid-hero family was dead during The Blip for five years. She more or less finished raising herself to young-adulthood and spent her free time reading the copiously detailed notes of Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), the groundbreaking entomologist and the original Ant-Man way back when. So now she’s MCU Tech-Whiz #766 in a series, collect ’em all. And she’s getting into activism by getting herself occasionally tossed into jail defending homeless people from tent-smashing police and for other pet causes. Their father/daughter dynamic is understandably impaired compared to how they used to be, but that mostly means they’re an average snarky sitcom duo of idiot dad and know-it-all daughter.

Or at least she thought she knew it all. After some lively Rudd/Reed whimsy and a too-brief reunion, Cassie’s latest invention does an oopsie and sends Bug Team Five into the Quantum Realm — herself and the once-and-future Ant-Men as well as the two Wasps, Pym’s wife Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) and daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly). Despite her name in the title, Hope’s function is primarily as zappy security. More distressingly, Michael Pena does not return as Ant-Man’s Best Friend Luis, the greatest recapper in film history. For that omission alone Quantumania is docked a full letter grade.

Janet is the least thrilled, most panicked among them. She was stranded thirty years in the Quantum Realm until she was rescued in the second Ant-film. She had a nightmarish time, doesn’t miss it, doesn’t want to talk about it, and keeps withholding for many minutes past a reasonable threshold even when it’s face-palmingly obvious that her knowledge would be extremely useful in preventing nearly everything that happens next. But honest communication is the enemy of Idiot Plots; instead resentment is allowed to build on both sides of the camera.

Last time she was in town, she made a new friend named Kang (Da 5 Bloods‘ Jonathan Majors), a stranded traveler who needed help fixing his spaceship. To her regret she later learned his last name was “the Conqueror”. Also, he wasn’t a castaway there; he was a prisoner. She betrayed her sinister pal before his ship was fully repaired and ready for jailbreak, but not in enough time to prevent him from conquering the Realm, because conquerors gonna conquer. Until new chances for him to bust out and go wreak havoc on the Multiverse present themselves, subjugation is but one way to pass the time.

Against their will Our Heroes are split into two teams. Each team shares two tasks as they search for the others in the Realm (what Marvel used to call the Microverse, which I guess felt too demeaning to Microversians). One: tread a heavily footprinted strangers-in-a-strange-land plot-path and meet a handful of deeply obscure Marvel characters who, having read only chapter 1 of the Guardians of the Galaxy playbook, all have costume designs instead of personalities. Two: let Kang get all the setup exposition out of his system now so that he doesn’t bog down every single MCU film in Phases 5 and 6 with hour-long readings from The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. I’m sure Majors could make them all work, but sooner or later there’d be backlash. (I say this as a viewer who loved how he took ownership of the Loki season finale. He’s very cool to watch smugly reigning, but I’d rather not overdose.)

Kang rules the film’s center with standard modest dreams of multiversal domination, a MacGuffin because of course there’s a MacGuffin, and his insistence that his goals are just a misunderstood yet necessary step in his master plan to strike back at The Real Enemies at the expense of the freedom and/or lives of the entire Microverse population. Maybe there are worse foes to come! Knowing the MCU, probably so! But the lengthy and portentous Kang Kang Kang Went the Trolley medley in service of the inevitable Avengers: Endgame II that might be released before I retire, further weighed down with a tedious army of literally faceless minions and subpar alien hi-jinks, turn Quantumania into the least fun Ant-Man film to date. It’s just an ordinary episode in the sprawling, interconnected anthology series that is the MCU.

Or at least it would be as ordinary as Thor: The Dark World if not for two saving graces. One is the highly improbable yet long-awaited MCU debut of M.O.D.O.K., a villain so ridiculous in concept that he’s developed an ironic cult following with his impossibly huge head, orange flying chair, headband laser and Betsy Wetsy limbs. As one of Kang’s lead henchman he’s not exactly the same M.O.D.O.K. who was a semi-regular in ToyFare Magazine and starred in a short-lived Hulu series that was basically one long Robot Chicken sketch. Before entering the theater I’d read five different Quantumania reviews from paid critics, two of whom spoiled the special surprise behind this version of M.O.D.O.K. in advance. I was miffed, and yet, even knowing about it, every single second he was onscreen with his stretched Silly Putty face and his pathetic grievances, I couldn’t stop giggling. And I mean every. Single. Second.

Almost more important than M.O.D.O.K. — if you can believe anything really is more important than M.O.D.O.K. — is the tonal shift that occurs in the film’s final half-hour during the obligatory CG-overkill showdown, when everyone’s had enough of Kang, misses the warm-hearted whimsy that made the first two Ant-films such a refreshing change of pace from the rest of the MCU, and wishes Our Heroes would all just forgive each other already, team up and fight-‘n’-joke-‘n’-fight. Reed, Rudd, and their rebellion take back the movie and, in two particularly notable scenes — one involving a steep, wobbly hill; the other involving Lightyear-esque time dilation and long-term scientific advancement — remind us what makes this series-within-a-series stand out and why we watch. And it’s not because we have to watch every Marvel product ever.

It’s about the ants, man.

Meanwhile in the customary MCC film breakdowns:

Hey, look, it’s that one actor!: Brand new faces include William Jackson Harper (The Good Place) as a telepath who’s useful when vouching for truth-tellers; returning Ant-player David Dastmalchian (see also: The Suicide Squad) exchanging his ex-thief for an all-CG happy gelatinous dude; Katy O’Brian (Black Lightning) as a rebel alliance leader based on an intensely obscure Microverse citizen from the comics; the Bill Murray as a one-time Incredible Hulk bit player, given no reason to be funny and therefore isn’t; and the guy from House of Cards who plays M.O.D.O.K.

Blink and you’ll miss cameos by Randall Park, a.k.a. FBI Agent Jimmy Woo from TV’s WandaVision; Mark Everett from the Eels (remind me to write about last year’s Extreme Witchcraft sometime) as a guy with a dog; and Gregg Turkington, a.k.a. Scott’s old boss at Baskin-Robbins.

How about those end credits? To answer the burning question that MCC is always happy to verify: yes, there are indeed scenes during and after the Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania end credits. For those who tuned out prematurely and really want to know, and didn’t already click elsewhere…

[…insert space for courtesy spoiler alert in case anyone needs to hop away on the nearest giant flying ant…]

…during the end credits: somewhere outside our timeline, an entire Council of Kangs convenes from across the Multiverse, all of them played by Majors, in light of what’s happened with the Kang who was this very film’s Big Bad and must decide what to do next. Comics readers will recognize some versions of him — Rama-Tut! Immortus! The Scarlet Centurion! Zombie Kang! and more, more, more! There’s no overt sign of He Who Remains from the Loki season-1 finale, but who knows.

Speaking of which: after the end credits we travel to the 19th century, where yet another Kang is a bespoke steampunk stage magician wowing his audience with wild notions of time travel. Two of his audience members are quite familiar: Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson as Loki and Agent Mobius, stars of TV’s Loki! So apparently Season 2 might just be coming soon to a Disney+ near you! Unless Bob Iger pulls the plug and this becomes another Henry Cavill/Black Adam situation!

What do you, The Viewers at Home, think?

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