Photo courtesy Marvel Studios

Marvel has been a little bit lost in the weeds since “Avengers: Endgame.” In all the movies that came before, there was a sense of urgency and purpose that every subsequent film was building towards something.

Since then, a few standouts aside (I see you “Shang-Chi”), the movies and television shows produced by Marvel have been average at best without much purpose or direction. Their most bankable heroes are either not coming back or are scattered to the wind.

The good news is that it appears that Marvel is finally back on track with “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” it’s just that they probably picked the wrong movie to put things in order.

Ant-Man has always existed at the sillier end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, getting by on Paul Rudd’s pluck and charm as Scott Lang, the petty crook turned superhero.

This third installment in the Ant-Man saga finds Scott looking to make up for lost time with his teenaged daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton).

The action is kicked off when a lab accident sends Scott, Cassie, Scott’s girlfriend and fellow superhero Hope Van Dyne, aka the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), OG Ant-Man Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his wife Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) into the subatomic Quantum Realm.

Janet spent 30 years trapped in the Quantum Realm, so she knows her way around, but the rest of the crew are amazed and bewildered by the wildly-strange creatures they encounter in this microscopic universe.

It is here where we meet Marvel’s new big bad in Kang The Conqueror (Jonathan Majors), a universe-hopping warlord who rules the Quantum Realm with an iron fist and looks to expand his empire across the multiverse.

While stopping Kang and freeing the good citizens of the Quantum Realm is the main goal in “Quantumania,” I enjoyed this movie’s willingness to let its freak-flag fly.

I love super-weird sci-fi (I’ll see your “Fifth Element” and raise you “Buckaroo Banzai”), so I am here for it, but I also respect the fact that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and that the zaniness of the Quantum Realm may not be the right place to set the emotional stakes for the next dozen movies or so.

At any rate, I was thoroughly entertained and Majors proves he is more than up to the task of menacing the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the foreseeable future. Also, the two-hour runtime feels brief and refreshing compared to some of Marvel’s more recent efforts.

The future of the MCU is as uncertain as ever, but “Quantumania” has the train back up on the tracks and (hopefully) headed in the right direction.

“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is rated PG-13 for violence/action and language.

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