The Marvel Cinematic Universe Needs To Make One Important Change After Quantumania

Critically, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania is a failure, and our writer argues that to right the MCU ship, the old Marvel formula needs to be thrown overboard.

By Zack Zagranis | Updated

marvel cinematic universe

Well, it’s official. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is rotten. The third Ant-Man movie is certified rotten on the aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes with an overall critics score of 48 percent. At this point, it’s clear that if Disney wants to recapture the magic of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s glory days, the solution is that they’re going to have to ditch the formula.

There has been a lot of discussion lately about so-called “superhero fatigue” at the box office. Is Quantumania’s rotten score a harbinger of things to come in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Not if Marvel shakes up the status quo with something fresh and bold!

As reported by The AV Club, MCU guru Kevin Feige recently unveiled his plan to combat superhero fatigue. Feige plans on putting more time between entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe both on Disney+ and in theaters so that each project can have room to breathe before another project starts breathing down its neck. He also may or may not start releasing fewer Marvel projects in an effort to promote quality over quantity.

While both of these changes are good, they miss the main reason the Marvel Cinematic Universe is failing to connect with viewers lately. They’ve seen it all before. There is a Marvel formula, and it’s made all the MCU films, well, formulaic.

What Marvel movie is this describing: A hero has to keep some kind of MacGuffin away from a villain who is a twisted mirror version of themself. Oh, and everyone makes jokes constantly for no reason. Did you figure it out?

That’s right! It was every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe!

That might be an oversimplification, but not by much. And the Marvel formula applies to the visuals too. Every movie has become a CGI mishmash of bright colors and frantic action indistinguishable from the next.

And the third thing wrong with every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Every movie has to connect to and set up further movies. How can Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania focus on furthering Ant-Man as a character when it’s got to focus on really setting up Kang as the big bad for the next couple of phases?

jonathan majors
Jonathan Majors as Kang in Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania (2023)

So how can Disney tweak the formula enough to get people excited about the Marvel Cinematic Universe again? Simple, they need to take a page from DC. Yes, you read that right.

DC, which tried to copy Marvel and ended up with a convoluted universe that they’re still trying to sort out.

Because here’s the thing: the Synderverse may have flopped, but it was because they let a filmmaker have their own singular vision without studio hand-holding. Part of why Edgar Wright left the original Ant-Man was that Marvel demanded that he stay inside the box. While it’s understandable that Marvel wants their brand to be instantly recognizable, it’s at the expense of the individual movies having their own autonomy.

That’s the other thing Marvel has to do that DC excels at: have more stand-alone movies. The closest example of auteur-driven stand-alone films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy films. Both GOTG and Vol. 2 take place in their own pocket of the MCU and feel like James Gunn films, not Marvel movies James Gunn happened to direct. There is a big distinction.

chris pratt guardians of the galaxy
Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Marvel could even take it one step further and make some movies not connected to the MCU proper. At first, everything being connected made the Marvel Cinematic Universe feel novel, but now it’s getting kind of annoying. Watching Marvel movies feels like putting a puzzle together, and it shouldn’t.

Again if you look at DC, even while the Snyderverse was doing … whatever it was doing … they were still putting out bangers like Joker and The Batman. Could you imagine an R-rated Green Goblin movie in the same vein as Joker?

It would be awesome. So yeah, as weird as it sounds, the Marvel Cinematic Universe needs to be more like DC.

Of course, DC recently unveiled a slate of projects that makes it sound like they’re trying to be more like Marvel, proving that Hollywood is an ouroboros and we’re just along for the ride.