(L-R): Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man, Kathryn Newton as Cassandra

We all knew it was inevitable that the MCU, for the last decade the hottest franchise on planet earth, would eventually cool down. The ups (No Way Home!) and downs (Eternals?) of Phase Four and the realities of post-pandemic entertainment left Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania very vulnerable to the vagaries of moviegoers, despite this outing’s crucial nature to the Phase Five narrative. The introduction of big bad Kang – played by the excellent and compelling Jonathan Majors – is supposed to set up years of stories, so the timing was crucial.

Opening weekend was boffo – third best opening ever for President’s Day weekend!

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania wound up hitting its $120M tracking projection from four weeks ago. Disney believes this AM that the Peyton Reed Marvel Studios movie will get there. Sunday was higher at $25.7M than the expected $24.2M and Monday is on track for $14.5M for a $120M result. 3-day revised is $105.5M. Some rivals think Ant-Man 3 can overshoot to $121M-$123M. Still, tepid exits arguably didn’t slow this movie down. Again, result here for the threequel is the best opening in the Ant-Man franchise ever, and the third best opening for February and Presidents Day weekend behind 4-days of 2018’s Black Panther ($242.1M) and Deadpool ($152.1M).

This success was despite a critical drubbing – only 48% on Rotten Tomatoes, only the second MCU movie to be certified Rotten (Eternals was the other – undeserved in my opinion). The audience score of 83% was more in line with typical MCU outings.

However although superhero films are known to have a big big drop in the second week, AMATWQ had a huge 69% plummet and was thrashed by Cocaine Bear. I mean Cocaine Bear will thrash everything, but still…The $32 mil second week total was deemed a “collapse” by the trades and has spawned endless takes (such as this very one) on whether the MCU is circling the drain or not.

Others feel it’s more than heated box office competition and harsh holiday comparisons. There’s concern the latest “Ant-Man” extends a potentially worrying trend for Marvel. Though “Quantumania” endured the steepest fall, it’s not the only recent MCU movie to witness a substantial drop in its second weekend. Pandemic-era entries, including “Black Widow” (67.8%), “Thor: Love and Thunder” (67.6%), “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (67.5%) and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” (67%), suffered similar declines.

Yet those movies — with the exception of “Black Widow,” which was released day-and-date on Disney Plus — earned at least $760 million and as much as $955 million by the end of their theatrical runs. There’s an argument that Marvel hasn’t been appealing beyond its target audience, but that target audience sure is dependable. No other franchise, dozens of films in, has managed to come close to that kind of consistency.

“The loyal fans are going to show up no matter what,” Robbins says. “The increasingly front-loaded nature and, occasionally divisive reception, of some of their recent films might not necessarily be worrying to the brand overall as long as the core fanbase remains.”

Let’s be real, though. It will take more than one shoddy Ant-Man movie to halt the Marvel juggernaut, but even Kevin Feige is aware that pumping out a lot of content over a short period is not the way forward. The Marvels, the team-up starring Brie Larsen’s Captain Marvel and Iman Vellani’s Ms. Marvel, has been pushed back to November 10th from a summer release. Disney’s Haunted Mansion, starring Rosario Dawson, LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson and Dany DeVito will take over the summer slot.

However, credible rumors are circulating that another reason the movie was pushed back is to have more time to work on the VFX which, if Quantumania is any indication, is a very wise move.

Quantumania just wasn’t a good movie. It nearly managed to make Paul Rudd charmless – something previously only theoretical, like cold fusion. The characterization was non-existent – why was the Wasp even in the movie? She had nothing to do and no character arc, something even Evangeline Lilly hinted at in interviews. Glen Weldon at NPR had a hilarious summation f the characters:

But as depicted here, Scott’s entire personality, the whole of his character, is defined thus: “I love my daughter Cassie. Where is Cassie? What have you done with Cassie?”

Douglas’ Hank Pym? “I like ants.”

Pfeiffer’s Janet? “I have secrets I refuse to divulge for no reasons I can point to.”

Newton’s Cassie? “I am every teen ever depicted in popular culture.”

Lilly’s Hope? “…”

In theory movie-goers could put up with this weak sauce if the movie looked cool but…it didn’t. Not only was Modok a horrifying disaster, but the inevitable third act CGI-fightfest was even lighter on physical things that looked like they were happening in real space than usual. And this was no accident.

Marvel’s VFX artist have been complaining about overwork for a while, and according to Vulture, work on Quantumania suffered because more resources were being given to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The Black Panther franchise is the MCU’s most socially important character, and the tragedy of Chadwick Boseman’s death and the serious themes of colonization and grief certainly deserved a lot of attention. Quantumania’s more light-hearted Star War’s Cantina Scene vibe suffered. Three VFX artist interviewed had mostly critical things to say about how the movie was made:

For Ant-Man, there were a lot of editorial changes happening toward the latter third and fourth of the project that were just too late. There’s a point of no return. Why certain things were changed, why certain notes were nitpicked longer than they should have been — that’s on Marvel. But it definitely did cause a lot of tension, turmoil, and weight on everybody at [company name redacted].

Unfortunately, it is noticeable that there were shortcuts. Certain things were used to cover up incomplete work. Certain editorial cuts were made to not show as much action or effects as there could have been — likely because there just wasn’t enough time to render everything. There was a lot of shortening and rolling of shots (rolling is when you don’t shorten or lengthen a shot — you just move it a few frames in the cut). It really did feel like certain scenes were trimmed or otherwise altered to either save money, save time, or cover up the inability to get it done.

A viewing of the  the finished product does nothing to refute these accusations: a lot of frantic jumping around against a swirly background that is just NASA space photos blown up and run through Procreate.

(L-R): Kathryn Newton as Cassandra

Engadget has a similar report on AMATWQ’s VFX woes:

“Making big pivots late in the game has consequences, and there is a constant scramble from the VFX houses to keep up,” a former VFX worker told Engadget. (They requested anonymity due to confidentiality agreements around their work.) “And near the end, it’s almost always a disaster. Lots of miracles. Lots of clever solutions, not based on heightening the art, but just being able to do a week’s worth of work in 24 hours.”

Even AMATWQ director Peyton Reed noted that The “volume” – a projection system shooting for non-existent environments that is increasingly used on Marvel and Star Wars projects – worked better on The Mandalorian (which he also directed) because they had more time. 

REED: I think, again, it’s like the idea of LED technology and using that as interactive light and visual effects is good. You know, there are limitations to it, and we push that system to its limit on this movie. There are things that it could do and it can’t do. What works so well in Mandalorian is they have a lot of lead time, because they’re doing a whole series, to invest and create these environments, and on the schedule we were on, it’s not always right for that situation. It’s cool, I like the volume.

When a film director is admitting that a TV show has more time to get things right, something is seriously out of whack.

Luckily, the powers that be at the MCU seem to have noticed this, hence pushing back The Marvels and tapping the brakes on the TV/streaming schedule. It’s not often that overworked craftspeople complaining that their work is being compromised by tight deadlines and last minute changes are listened to, but if that’s the case here, kudos to the decision makers.

Look, nothing is ever going to top the Infinity War/Endgame one-two punch. The next Avengers movie will have mostly replacement characters – Tony Stark, OG Cap and Black Widow are dead or retired – and the new “Young Avengers” have big shoes to fill. Blasting out Phase Five movies at a furious ace will do nothing to help that – and a slower pace might just prove the old adage “absence make the heart grow fonder.”



  1. Great round up.

    Though the Eternals deserves every bit of the apathy it gets. That movie was boring and pointless. It’s not even worth hating on, the general reaction to the blandness of Eternals is ignoring it, which is worse.

  2. Absence makes you lose interest and move on. Movies/series were never as good, as crazy and groundbreaking as the source material and its unlimited budget. So now that the decade of novelty has passed. Either we go for smaller stories with smaller scales based on proper character development (Daredevil?) or it will slowly fade like the DCEU already did. It took 50 years for event fatigue to hit the comics, this is it for the big screen outings.

  3. Minority (?) opinion – I enjoyed Quantumania – yes its silly, yes MODOK makes no sense at all, yes Michael Douglas could have done his bit in his sleep and Bill Murray was wasted but it was fun – please remember this is a comic book movie, not a deep philosophical treatise on the meaning of life

  4. I enjoyed the movie, but it was disappointing. The first two Ant-Man films got so much right – they were lower-stakes and actually character focused, and they were a blast. I thought there were some amusing visual bits in the cantina in this film, but the CGI climax was boring as heck and the strong characterization from previous films was abandoned. Avatar: the Way of Water has clearly shown that people will pay good money for a mediocre story with good visual effects – but only if they’re really, really amazing effects. I just don’t think the MCU will ever be able to compete in that space. They need tighter scripts and more self-contained, satisfying stories.

  5. There is way too much hate on this movie. It had new concepts and I loved the heck out of it as did my whole family (which is unusual). Seriously the only people that are complaining about this movie are the ones GETTING PAID TO write online articles about it. Apparently negative articles get more views or something.

  6. I enjoyed this movie far more than I thought I would. And, frankly, better than “Wakanda Forever” which, understandably, had to not only entertain but help the cast and fans grieve as well, but just seemed over-stuffed w/ some sections that dragged (though the intro of Namor was a big, well done highlight). I liked Kang, enjoyed the meaty roles given Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeifer, and thought the micro-verse visuals were great/creative. The mix of drama and humor was generally well done. And I say all this as someone who is a HUGE comicbook fan but has been getting pretty weary of the MCU. I don’t want it to go away. But right now it is literally too much of a good thing at this point and all of the special effects/spectacle just seem to blend together after a while. (I think some of that is what happens when you translate comics to the real world. The filmmakers work hard but it’s just NOT the same art form. Not sure if I can put it into words, but I can read several comics a week/month and not get bored by the different writers/plots/characters/art. But, again, watching a bunch of MCU films/tv shows in that same period just wears me down…)
    But, back to the topic, I was pretty constantly entertained by “Quantumania” and don’t get the criticism. I also liked “Thor: Love and Thunder” and “Black Widow.” I’m a big fan of the Shang-Chi comics from the 1970s but feel the film, though a worth-while effort, kinda ruined that cool sci-fi/espionage take in favor of making him a 21st Century action hero.

  7. I haven’t seen this yet, but all the media (blogs and over zealous fanbois) seem to hate on this and almost everything lately. I get we’re angry, it’s been a hilarious few years but… is ‘t this a MOVIE? No movie is perfect, in fact most aren’t. We’re asked to suspend beliefs when we enter, “ This is actually happening somewhere…. Can’t wait to see it,”… and then when it’s not flawless to our pre-created concept of what they will or need to do…. What happens? Fanboi rage.

    Then blogs that think they are legit sources of information spew their hatred. Cool. Remember when we’d ever seen anything like this before? Blown away. Remember Iron Man 1? Go watch that today on a high end tv and you’ll find fault with special effects there too.

    I am sure this movie won’t equal my preconceived idea of what it needs to be…. Then again, thanks to the MOM DO WE HAVE ANYMORE PIZZA POCKETS squad… (too harsh?) I’m fine waiting to watch this at home, with beyond low expectations.

    I’ve spoken to a couple people that loved it. I asked about the low brow special effects. One said they noticed and found a way to lol at it thinking the director’s kid helped… and the other said it didn’t bother them. Apparently that whole suspend belief thing… who knew?

  8. Without a doubt the worst marvel film yet. Not only did they butcher yellowjacket in Ant man 1 but they use the same actor to butcher Modok.
    Everyone in the cinema I was at was saying the movie sucked big time.

  9. I just think it’s funny Marvel fans are having to defend themselves against movie critics. Face it people, Hollywood was willing to abide by the Marvel serial superhero drama until it reached its conclusion. The money and the critic community know the train is at its last stop on Marvel movies. Spy Kids was a fun movie too, but the critics were tired of it after two movies. The Avengers line at Marvel just isn’t fresh anymore. Maybe they could branch out to a new line of characters that don’t fight world ending space baddies.

  10. I saw every MCU film in the theatres from Iron Man to Black Widow which I saw on premium Disney+ then went back to the cinema till Doctor Strange 2 which was the last I bothered with.

    I still have Disney+ and still haven’t bothered with Thor 4 or BP2. I’m just over the franchise which has just become a boring mess and the slog of crap Disney+ shows I forced myself to get through did not help.

    Which is fine you get older and lose interest in things you liked when you were younger.

    But purely anecdotally talking to small new hires at work about whether they watched MCU films and the reply was no though they were dragged to watch them by the dads when they were kids.

    MCU is it becoming a franchise for old people? not good for the future like how the average age of DC CW show viewers are 45 lol.

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