Christophe Beck’s third Ant-Man score is a much darker, more dramatic entry compared to prior films, with the established themes for the titular main characters reprising in more fluid, action-oriented form against newly malevolent countermotifs for villains M.O.D.O.K. and Kang, and that combined with several other enjoyable new themes and Beck’s usual standard of excellence in his action writing makes Quantumania solidly entertaining overall.
In the ever-changing, ever-evolving sea of thematic ideation that is the music for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, composer Christophe Beck’s theme and style for Ant-Man has been one of the most tenaciously recurring works, with the flurrying, almost mischievious aforementioned motif for the titular character appearing throughout all of the Ant-Man movies – including this one – and even cropping up for a short stylistic cameo in Avengers: Endgame. It helps too of course that Beck’s theme is memorable, fitting for Scott Lang as a character and genuinely fantastic to boot, and so it should come as little surprise that I was quite excited at the prospect of Beck one again returning to the Ant-Man franchise for Quantumania. From Ant-Man through to Hawkeye and WandaVision the composer has already proven his compositional talents quite substantially in the MCU, and I was very curious to see how he would adapt his style to what seemed to be a much darker, more serious Ant-Man than previous entries in the franchise. And now that we finally have the third film’s score in hand, suffice to say; Beck did not disappoint.
The score opens with “Theme From Quantumania”, which is essentially a much more thunderously dramatic take on Beck’s Ant-Man theme. Crashing percussion opens the piece, catching your attention immediately as the aforementioned motif then starts to play on initially muted brass. From there however Beck then starts to iterate, mixing short, repeating riffs of a newly evolved Ant-Man ostinato with flurrying, wondrous strings and woodwinds. As the music starts to build notes from the full theme then once again start to echo through, getting louder and more prominent with brass incrementing in both volume and intensity until a loud synthy blast then propels it into action, with the aforementioned instrumentation simply going all out as a result. This orchestral grandiosity then continues for a further minute or so with the Ant-Man theme held emphatically high until a finishing crescendo is then reached, with the track then coming to a quietly fading, somewhat mysterious-sounding close. All-in, it’s a pretty striking new take on Beck’s main theme, and that mixed with some wacky instrumentation – to represent the bizarre nature of the film’s Quantum Realm setting, one might interpret – makes for a very entertaining listen, and one hell of a strong start to the album overall.
“We Should Be Dead” then introduces the first of Beck’s new themes for the third film; the Quantum Realm theme. It’s a quietly mysterious (at first, anyway) five note motif that opens the aforementioned cue rather gently on downtrodden strings. The new theme then plays in a moody yet also rather wondrous way for much of the rest of the track, with short percussive crescendos then emphasizing the grand nature of the aforementioned subatomic universe before the cue then closes out. “Skies Of Axia” however then continues where it leaves off, with the new Quantum Realm theme playing loudly and boldly through several grand orchestral movements until the music then quietens in the cue’s back half, with ominous percussive undercurrents giving the first hints toward a certain villain theme (to be fully unveiled a little later on in the score).
Interrupting any further thematic build-up on that front for the time being however is then “The Hunter”; the score’s standout action setpiece, and one that muscles into centre stage with its own new villain theme; M.O.D.O.K. The track opens dramatically, with a thunderous percussive/electronic combo playing that then introduces the aforementioned seven note theme in boldly emphatic villain mode. Darkly ominous percussion then follows the introduction alongside bursts of tremendously tense brass, hammering the imminent threat of the character home throughout. At the ninety second mark Ant-Man’s theme then fights briefly back but is slammed back out of the fray by M.O.D.O.K’s, and it isn’t until around the two and a half minute mark that hope then finally arises in the form of another new theme; Cassie Lang’s. As the composer himself has said structurally it’s kind of an inversion on the main Ant-Man theme, and in its debut here it plays in bravely heroic action mode opposite M.O.D.O.K’s continually oppressive motif, with the Ant-Man theme also then getting back up to help towards the end of the cue until a brassy crescendo is then reached, and the action comes to a sudden finish.
Quietly moody electronics open “Fifty Shades Of Kang”, seeding a coldly malevolent atmosphere for the first ninety seconds or so until percussive elements then start to beat, introducing the final piece of Beck’s new thematic repertoire here; the theme for Kang the Conqueror. It starts as a deep, ominous percussion ostinato before then building up into two repeating brass notes (in a kind of similar manner to that of Alan Silvestri’s Thanos theme at first, but with a bit more menace). The new motif then builds in its malice on increasingly foreboding brass until arriving at another loud crescendo, with gentle piano notes then hinting solemnly toward the theme for the Wasp until the three minute cue then ends a few seconds later. Kang’s new theme then continues into “The Conqueror”, with its percussive ostinato opening the track before the music then settles into quiet, ominous ambience until around the four minute mark, where the aforementioned ostinato returns with the full theme itself in malevolent tow. Loud brass and dramatic drums then continue the villain’s orchestral malice for the remainder of the cue, hammering his new theme home in all its thunderous orchestral glory. All-in, as villain themes go it’s an intriguing piece of music; in terms of memorability and menace like I say it’s up there with Thanos’ theme, but despite the malice and boldness of it I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t hoped for just a little bit more for the theme for the MCU’s next big bad. It is growing on me though (especially the more percussive side of it), and hopefully it will also continue to build in subsequent films if it’s kept around.
“Through The Storm” reprises the moodier elements of Kang’s new theme in its back half, with Cassie’s motif then playing on quietly sorrowful strings just before the three minute cue comes to a close. Action then returns in “Sting Operation”, with the seven note M.O.D.O.K. motif once again sounding menacingly through opposite a brief reprisal of the main Ant-Man theme. This then leads directly into the subsequent “Honey I Shrunk The Energy Core” and “Look Out For The Little Guy” cues, with the Ant-Man theme wielding the full full orchestra as the motif plays in loudly heroic glory in the former track, and Cassie’s motif boldly stealing the musical show on inspirational brass in the latter. Rapid strings then open “Sting Low, Sweet Variant” with both the Ant-Man and Wasp themes thundering back into the fray on propulsive brass. The pair are swiftly joined by a now similarly emboldened Quantum Realm theme as the population all rally against Kang, with the track then receiving a rather epic Ant-Man ostinato undercurrent on crashing drums as the themes charge into orchestral battle. All-in, it’s a superbly composed action moment by Beck, rivalled I think only in this score by “The Hunter”. The short “Like Father Like Daughter” then reprises Cassie’s theme on quieter, more reserved brass at the start of the cue, before the orchestra then thunders back into the fray in the final few seconds with a rather desperate rendition of the Quantum Realm motif.
With the finale of the score fast approaching the ominous Kang ostinato plays moodily at the start of “Kang Bang”, with the theme itself then slowly building through the cue’s opening minute until emerging loudly and victoriously on dramatically imposing vocals and crashing brass. This orchestral malevolence continues for a further minute or so before Ant-Man’s theme then heroically leaps onto the soundtrack stage just as the track then closes on an emphatic crescendo. “Alien Ant Harm” however then continues the orchestral fight, with the Quantum Realm theme powering through amongst flurries of rebellious string and brass notes. “Threnody For A Reformed Dick” then briefly breaks from the action as a quietly solemn, primarily strings-based piece, with said strings then building to a mournfully vocal crescendo at the end of the cue. “Lang V.S. Kang” then leaps right back into the action fray with the Kang and Ant-Man motifs once again butting heads; imposing brass, flurrying strings and deafening drums thunder throughout this three minute setpiece, with Cassie’s theme briefly reprising at the two minute mark and the Wasp’s then emerging somewhat triumphantly at the end. To close the score, the Quantum Realm theme then reprises in a now wondrous, hopeful style in “Don’t Let Go”, with “Hymenoptera” then closing the album with one final dramatic take on Beck’s Ant-Man theme.
Overall, Christophe Beck’s much darker and grander score for Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania marks another major victory for the composer in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For me personally, this third entry in the Ant-Man franchise is a major step-up from the previous two scores (though I imagine those who prefer the lighter style of the prior two scores might disagree), as Beck’s darker new iterations on the main Ant-Man theme essentially lead a thunderously epic orchestral charge throughout this hour long soundtrack album. It’s joined by not only returning older motifs (i.e. the Wasp’s) but also intriguing new ones, from the at times quietly mysterious then proudly grandiose Quantum Realm theme to the furiously fast-paced M.O.D.O.K. motif, with the icing on the new thematic cake of course being the seedily malevolent theme for the great Kang the Conqueror himself, which manages to rival Silvestri’s Thanos theme for me in terms of sheer imposing presence. These themes combined with many a thunderously engaging action setpiece (see “The Hunter” and “Sting Low, Sweet Variant” for excellent examples) and an exquisite album opening in “Theme From Quantumania” makes Beck’s third score here a seriously solid score pretty much from start to finish.
I just hope they keep and build upon this new theme for Kang the Conqueror. A fantastically villainous start, Mr. Beck.
Standout Cues: 1. Theme From Quantumania/5. The Hunter
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3 thoughts on “Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania – Soundtrack Review”
And I saw Beck posted your review in his Instagram story. So cool!
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Good to see you back at it again. What else have you planned to review? I feel like the soundtrack for the upcoming Mario movie is a given in that regard, but I’m very curious about the rest.
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Heyo – I’ve not got much lined up in the short term currently, but looking into March/April/May time there’s a few I’ve got my eye on; SHAZAM 2, John Wick, Star Trek: Picard, The Mandalorian to name a few, and Super Mario Bros of course 🙂 Lots of hopefully interesting projects on the horizon there.