‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ is more than a lengthy title. It’s also Marvel’s first movie release of 2023… and its worst-rated film. With a current score of 49%, what exactly did Ant-Man do to deserve this treatment?
A Rotten Score
“The thrill is gone. The Marvel Universe shoots a blank.” These are the words of Dwight Brown, a top critic on Rottentomatoes.com. And he’s not alone.
There’s a consensus among MCU fans (or, more accurately, former fans) that the franchise has gone downhill. After the death/retirement of the original Avengers, the following movies didn’t seem to have the same quality. Critics pointed out poor CGI, flimsy plots, and bland writing, among other noticeable flaws.
‘Ant-Man’ is the latest in a long string of Marvel disappointments. Even the nicest Rotten Tomatoes critics label the film “predictable,” “pedestrian,” and “overstimulating.” So what exactly makes it that way? Let’s take a look.
Common Sense Media states, “This serviceable but ultimately disappointing third installment strips the franchise of its best qualities to promote yet another seemingly indestructible MCU villain.” I think this review hits the nail as someone who watched the movie. Marvel fans are sick of overpowered villains pitted against ordinary, “average Joe” types of heroes. Scott Lang has always been funny, charming, and an overall lovable character—but that doesn’t mean he should be fighting the overlord of all time and space. As Common Sense notes, “the star of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania isn’t Ant-Man, the Wasp, or their loved ones. It’s the villain.”
Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror was a well-played character, so his presence overshadowed much of the movie. Part of the Ant-Man series’ original charm was its down-to-earth quality. Initially, Scott Lang was a true underdog, dedicated to helping the little people. In Quantumania, he still does that—literally—but he also goes toe-to-toe with a man who rules over every parallel universe. It’s the kind of thing that makes a viewer step back and ask: How did we get here?
When every movie sets up a life or death, a total-world-ending scenario, the stakes eventually mean nothing. The honest, harsh truth? Viewers are bored.
Factor that into the film’s unexplained disappearance of crucial characters, such as Michael Peña’s Luis, and Ant-Man delivers a narrative sorely lacking in heart, charm, and creativity.
With all that said, the film isn’t a complete failure. When I went to see it, my expectations weren’t high (thanks to Multiverse of Madness, Love and Thunder, and everything else released lately). I wasn’t expecting anything stellar, and I wasn’t too disappointed. The film offers fun and wacky elements, like a little blob character who wants to fit in, a mind-reader who’s seriously sick of the world around him, and the biggest surprise of all—the return of villain Darren as comics icon MODOK. Trust me: If you’ve never seen him, you’re in for a wild ride.
Overall, if you don’t take the film too seriously, spending two hours is not the wrong way. Just don’t get your hopes up too high!
The Future of the MCU
What does this lackluster performance mean for the future of Marvel?
Sadly, for most fans, it doesn’t come as a surprise. It’s widely agreed that the only card Marvel has left is Spider-Man. No Way Home, for example, boasts a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and an even higher audience score.
Due to the countless movies and TV shows released yearly, fans worry that Marvel now values quantity over quality. This endless string of content and a toxic corporate mindset results in overworked employees, as former VFX artist Dhruv Govil, states in a July 2022 tweet. “Working on #Marvel shows pushed me to leave the VFX industry,” he says. “They’re a horrible client, and I’ve seen way too many colleagues break down after being overworked while Marvel tightens the purse strings.”
Most people want a return to the “old” Marvel: one or two high-quality movies a year, with more time and effort put into each. While the franchise still has some standouts, such as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the consensus exists. From fans and critics alike, the current MCU receives a rotten score.
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