"Quantumania:" Marvel's Biggest Disaster Yet
After months and months of trailers, hype, and anticipation, Marvel finally released Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the third installment in the Ant-Man series. Despite the brief time its been in theaters, the movie has already made headlines, but not for the right reasons. With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 47%, it is the lowest rated Marvel movie since 2021's Eternals. So what exactly went wrong here? Is Marvel in the middle of its decline? And what does this mean for the world's biggest entertainment studio.
It's no secret that Marvel's 4th phase is their worst recieved yet. With releases like, She-Hulk, Black Widow, Thor: Love and Thunder, Eternals, and Multiverse of Madness, there's no denying that this has been a particularly rocky time for the studio, and Quantumania is arguably their worst received film yet, and for good reason. It's a movie that's both over and under written, the visual effects are some of the studio's worst and it's filled with all of the classic Marvel tropes that people have been getting increasingly sick of.
There are however, some positive aspects of Quantumania that managed to seep through the cracks. Paul Rudd delivers a charismatic performance as usual, there are a handful of pretty good jokes, and the villain is one of Marvel's most interesting by far. Jonathan Majors gives a stellar performance as Kang the Conqueror, and the character has a very interesting dynamic with Michelle Pfieffer's Janet van Dyne. However, I can't help but be reminded of Christian Bale's performance as Gorr the God Butcher in Thor: Love and Thunder, a well-written, fascinating villain that deserved a better movie. Nevertheless, Majors is still a standout in this otherwise dismal film.
The main problem audiences seem to have with Quantumania is the visual effects, and even to the untrained eye it is plain to see how disappointing these graphics are. One of the most popular comparisons is to Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over. It is important to note that Quantumania had a budget of $200 million dollars and spends a good 90% of the runtime utilizing a green screen. I'm not saying that good CGI is an easy thing to achieve, but when your film had a budget of 1/5th of a billion dollars and you can literally see a green tint on the character's, that's unacceptable. In the past decade, Marvel have proved themselves to be a driving force in the entertainment industry, but even with the strong source material and gargantuan budgets, their films just aren't cutting it anymore.
It's abundently clear by the first half hour of Quantumania that this film was Marvel's attempt at making a Star Wars knockoff. The Quantum Realm that's explored in the film are wrought with bizarre looking aliens, and government mutiny. Hell, even Bill Murray shows up to play a creepy, unlikeable Lando Calrissian ripoff. Now of course, Marvel has set some of their films in space before however the difference is that Guardians of the Galaxy still had a feeling of originality, and a considerable amount of their aliens were done using practical effects rather than just using CGI as a crutch. Quantumania on the other hand uses so much CGI that it could arguably be considered an animated film. It's time Marvel notices that audiences are sick of seeing films made with so much green screen. As humans, we inherently like watching other humans on screen and stage, hence why Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars still hold up today with audiences.
Of course if I'm talking about Quantumania, I have to bring up one specific thing, perhaps the single worst part of the film in general and that is the character of MODOK, played by Corey Stoll. MODOK is a character that has been apart of Marvel's catalogue since 1967. He has appeared in countless comic books and animated shows throughout the years, but Quantumania marked the first time Marvel attempted to adapt MODOK to live-action and boy oh boy did they...try. Nothing quite exemplifies the VFX failures of Quantumania quite like MODOK.
I have a hard time putting into words the sheer shock that I experienced in theaters when MODOK first premiered on screen. I could instantly tell it was him because of his trademark floating torso and giant head, but he was wearing a golden mask. Removing the mask was Marvel's first mistake. Corey Stoll as MODOK is one of the most thoroughly unsettling things I have seen come out of a Marvel movie. An uncanny valley monstrosity that resembles Mr. Electric from Sharkboy and Lavagirl. It's genuinely difficult not to laugh and I could hear myself audibly gasp in the theater as soon as the mask came off. I completely understand that MODOK is essentially just a giant floating head with lil baby limbs but there is absolutely no excuse for a studio as well-funded, acclaimed, and connected as Marvel/Disney to be releasing content like this on screen. As an audience member, you deserve better.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is not worth your time, plain and simple. It stands as further proof that phase 4 probably isn't going to get better any time soon. At this point it's safe to say that my superhero fatigue has fully settled in and for the first time in a long while, I'm no longer excited to see what Marvel has in store.