Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and the gap between critics and audiences. Is Marvel really in crisis?

The first cinecomic of Phase 5 of the MCU splits sector journalists and audience into two, in an ever-widening gap that gives the measure of a small physiological qualitative crisis or a perceptive change of this kind on the merits. The analysis

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and the gap between critics and audiences.  Is Marvel really in crisis?

Forty total productions, fifteen years of activity, more than 28 billion dollars collected worldwide. These are the current numbers of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to date the largest and most profitable franchise in the entire history of cinema, a true creative unicum that still remains inimitable. However, time passes for everyone and it is true what is said ironically about it The Amazing World of Gumball: “Do you really think you can lock people in a room and press them to always bring out gold? Eventually the stories will begin to repeat themselves“. The not so veiled reference is to the so-called writers room and the stagnation of the film studios, and net of an indisputable commercial and emotional success, it seems that Marvel Studios has entered with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantummania by Peyton Reed (here you can read our review) and the new Phase 5 of the MCU in their physiological tired phase.

Dichotomies and experiments

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Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantummania, a scene

The question is obvious: is it really the first and real qualitative crisis of the franchise or is it only a critical perception? The question arises when looking at the results of the third chapter of Ant-Man in terms of reception, because the gap between the public and the trade press by now it seems to be expanding more and more, opening up to a reasoning that on the merits must also reflect on the real requests or needs of the market. Starting with a more universal analysis of the post-Endgame and also post-pandemic MCU, the last three years have been up and down. Considering an average film budget raised to around 200 million – against the 160 of Phase 3 (Avengers excluded) -, Phase 4 enjoyed only two huge critical, public and economic successes with Spider-Man: No Way Home (1 billion and 921 million) e Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (955 million), while all six remaining cinecomics disappointed in at least one of the three categories.

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Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantummania, a scene

Eternals is the most sensational flop so far recorded by the Studios in each of these, while Shang-Chi (which is perhaps the product that has best exploited a genre in its complexity) managed by a hair’s breadth to return to costs and generate minimal profits despite a wide appreciation from the audience and the specialized press; to keep silent about Black Widow, which even cost a lawsuit between Scarlett Johansson and Marvel which finally ended in a private settlement. Furthermore, it is impossible to know the real results of the Disney+ series, but as far as reception and sharing are concerned, these have shown greater participation more or less up to Moon Knight with Oscar Isaac, then recording a significant drop in interest up to She-Hulkdetested by most fans (33% of scores) and still reviewed worse (80%) than all the others.

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Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantummania, a scene

It’s true: aggregators and the like leave the time they find, but somehow they give a comprehensive overview of the gap between critics and the public, highlighting this expressive dichotomy between reflections and contradictions of any kind. With 5 shows in 2021 and 4 last year, Marvel has certainly put quantity above quality in the streaming sector, developing projects of even very few episodes and of very short duration – often even short-lived – to exploit, however, on a regular basis the distribution potential and platform trade. For the same reason, in the cinematographic field they have opened a more experimental and inclusive Phase, devoted to the introduction of new “avenger” levers and of the Multiverse, entirely transitory and in some ways libertine, certainly devoid of the stylistic and creative cohesion of the previous phases .

Marvel Cinematic Universe, phase 4 budget: how super is it to be human?

Where is the reason?

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Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantummania, a scene

All this has led to ongoing revaluations of the mcu by the upper floors of the Studios, who are now trying to fix the shot of the franchise but whose structural weaknesses are starting to show more in the meantime. And Quantumania is unfortunately or fortunately a great reflection of the moment. While Feige and associates recalibrate the releases and cadences of the entire MCU again, which in 2023 will see two TV series – Secret Invasion And loki 2 – and three feature films (one of which was postponed for months to start working better and with less crunching to post-productions), the third film on Ant-Man is nothing short of divisive and a symbol of the creative tiredness of the cinematographic toy. The paradox is that much more than Spider-Man or even of Thor: Love and Thunder, Quantummania slavishly and purely reflects the canons of Formula Marvel, which means that it is neither more nor less than an averagely successful title like many others in the MCU.

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Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantummania, a scene

Concretely, the problem is both in substance and in concept. On the one hand we have a cinecomic that looks like a gigantic mcguffin designed to introduce Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror onto the big screen, with no real inspiration (it refers to Star Warsto Amazing journey, Tron: Legacy And Strange World), sometimes grotesque (the transposition of MODOK) and stripped of the most sincere and carefree soul that had made Ant-Man that great little valid and different hero. On the other hand, it is precisely this idea of ​​starting the Fifth Phase of the MCU with this trick that neither surprises nor excites those who have to follow this Universe day after day, for the past fifteen years, for work and necessity.

Jonathan Majors’ Kang in Quantummania: when a great enemy is squeezed into a small film

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Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantummania, a scene

The magic is fading and the commitment is increasing, while for fans and the general public it is in fact yet another appointment to know the next step of the franchise, which however does not take an additional step towards something different and continues to re-propose the same situations by changing just a few addends. The truth is that i Marvel Studios they respect the market demand and aim at both the millions of loyal viewers around the world and at the younger ones, but also that the MCU now reflects the more procedural soul of comics in the cinema, serializing the franchise with greater decision. What emerges is a fragmented picture where a film, today more than yesterday, is just a piece of the general puzzle, a reason which is however leading to a qualitative degeneration of the product, which repeats itself without renewing itself, without more grit or commitment to detail.

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Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantummania, a scene

Does the market want this? This is partly the case, especially after the pandemic crisis that brought the film sector to its knees. Can we still respect the demand by trying to put quality over quantity? Yes of course. Because ultimately the problem is not Quantummania but what Quantummania represents: an idea of mainstream cinema easygoing and good entertainment that however does not shine in anything, be it writing, directing or action. And at this point there is a need to put stories, talent and originality back at the center of the film idea. At least in the House of Wonders. Otherwise the scissor will end up breaking completely.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, who is Kang?

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