Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is polarizing fans and critics and driving some away from the franchise entirely.
As the most recent entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania was released to polarizing reviews between fans and critics. Although most fans seem to have enjoyed it, professional reviewers and others have found it to be one of the weakest entries into the MCU. In an article for Digital Trends, journalist and lifelong Marvel fan Jason Struss reveals that he’s done with the MCU after watching Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
In his article, Struss calls the film an “overstuffed CGI fest that was more intent on vaguely teasing future movies and promoting Disney+ content than telling an entertaining story.” One of the main problems that Struss claims is that “they [Marvel] seem to be coasting off the highs of Endgame and the Infinity Saga and, as a result, have lost the accessibility and relatability that made the MCU so inviting in the first place.”
He continues: “There was no sense of momentum in Phase Four, or even an acknowledged sense of the MCU’s deliberate fractured state. Instead, it felt like Marvel was coasting. After a decade of sustained success, they didn’t need to try. You can’t blame them, except, yes, you absolutely can blame them, especially when it results in something as synthetic and lifeless as Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.”
Strong words from a lifelong Marvel fan. And yet, Struss is not the only fan finding fault with the MCU recently. Many have taken to Twitter to express their discontent with the MCU recently.
One of the issues could be the oversaturation of the universe, and what some fans feel is a diminishing quality in the products being put out.
One of the huge developments in Marvel’s Phase Four was the addition of Disney+ content. Phase Four consisted of WandaVision (2021), The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021), Loki (2021), What If…? (2021), Hawkeye (2021), Moon Knight (2022), Ms. Marvel (2022), and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (2022). Some also count the I Am Groot miniseries of shorts as part of Phase Four.
On the big screen, Phase Four also provided a plethora of content. Beginning with Black Widow (2021), it was followed by Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021), Eternals (2021), Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022), Thor: Love and Thunder (2022), and ended with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022). Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is the first in Marvel’s Phase Five.
One of the problems with this is the interconnected storytelling element of these projects. Almost all of the projects in the most recent phase of storytelling have been linked back to Avengers: Endgame, and require a knowledge of the repercussions of that film to understand the context. For the casual movie fan, it can seem a daunting task to try and catch up with the MCU, especially with much of the content in Phase Five connecting back and requiring knowledge of the events of previous entries in the franchise.
Many Marvel fans haven’t been able to keep up and, even more worryingly, many haven’t wanted to. Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania has so far been seen by critics as one of the weaker films in the MCU. In fact, as of the time of this writing, it is the second-lowest-ranking Marvel film on Rotten Tomatoes, even despite its commercial success.
Quantumania represents a point of exasperation for some viewers (Spoiler alert for end credits of Quantumania following!). The second end credits scene shows thousands of Kang variants banded together, and the scale for many has become daunting. With this seemingly endless number of Kang variants, there’s almost no telling how many projects will be needed to defeat this multiversal threat.
Some fans can’t help but think of the exponential quality of this storytelling model. To many, it feels like the MCU is committed to an expansionism that is unsustainable. Many are hoping for a return to the more street-level, character-based storytelling of earlier entries within the universe.
Although films like Black Panther: Wakanda Forever are still able to turn out critically and commercially successful storytelling, the worry is that not all of the Marvel franchises are able to do the same. Ultimately, many fans believe that the commercial success of Marvel films has superseded the need for quality storytelling.
It may be in Disney’s best interest to slow the release of projects, and instead focus on creating high-quality content that is accessible to viewers instead of coasting on the success of previous films. Many fans fear that if not, the well might run dry for the franchise.