Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania may have been a critical and financial disappointment, but those struggles will bring major improvements to Marvel Studios' execution in Phase 6 and beyond.
Despite years of excitement for Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, the shrinking threequel disappointed massively. It holds the lowest Rotten Tomatoes critic score for an MCU movie at 47% and is tied with several other Marvel Studios releases for the worst audience-rated CinemaScore of a "B."
This even translated to the box office as Ant-Man 3 suffered the worst second-weekend drop for an MCU movie. The movie ended its theatrical run with a worldwide haul of $475.8 million, becoming the lowest-grossing flick in the trilogy below the $519.3 million of Ant-Man and $622.6 million of Ant-Man and The Wasp.
Why Ant-Man 3 Will Prompt Changes at Marvel Studios
Ant-Man 3's record-breaking drop and disappointing box office result clearly come as a direct consequence of the movie's many criticisms. Word of mouth has begun to have a massive box office impact, as shown by universally-praised Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 now seeing a historically low drop for the MCU.
With the latest Guardians movie poised for a prosperous box office run right after Quantumania had many wondering if the superhero genre itself was in jeopardy, Marvel Studios will undoubtedly be developing a clear picture of just how important a high-quality production is to its bottom line.
A report from The Cosmic Circus in December 2022 claimed Marvel Studios would be "re-evaluating the future releases" across Phases 5 and 6 to "assure quality control" after criticism of Phase 4. This generally amounts to establishing a stronger quality-over-quantity philosophy when it comes to MCU projects.
As this mantra was only established in late 2022 after two years of controversial Phase 4 releases, Ant-Man 3 was too far along and too close to release to reap the benefits. However, projects coming later this year such as The Marvels and Echo will have had enough time to make any necessary adjustments.
Quantumania's disappointment ought to heavily push Marvel Studios to implement changes to its execution for the remaining projects in Phases 5 and 6 to further prioritize producing a high-quality movie or show. After all, this represents the first major case of the MCU's arguable quality decline impacting box office results, which is bound to spur action from both Marvel Studios and Disney.
How Marvel Is Avoiding Another Ant-Man 3 Scenario
Marvel Studios took a huge risk on Ant-Man 3 writer Jeff Loveness as it marked the first movie he had ever written, with his biggest credit up until then coming from Rick and Morty. One can only assume the studio had a far more positive reaction to Quantumania than the fans and critics as Loveness was even hired to write Avengers: The Kang Dynasty before his MCU debut was released.
Clearly, the studio's gamble on Loveness didn't pay off as well as hoped or expected based on the response to Ant-Man 3. This could end with Marvel Studios dropping the writer from Avengers 5 and replacing him with a more experienced writer as the MCU simply can't afford to risk its Kang-centric blockbuster flopping.
Marvel Studios' efforts to make quality improvements already appear to be underway looking at its recent investments in more experienced writers. The writers of Blade, Thunderbolts, and Fantastic Four were all replaced in the span of just 30 days early this year, signaling a major shift in script strategy.
As Marvel Studios replaces its riskier writer choices with more experienced veterans, it wouldn't be shocking to see Loveness get the boot from his next MCU movie, which comes with Phase 6's Avengers 5. Even Michael Waldron's fate as the writer of Avengers: Secret Wars could be up in the air, although he may be in a more secure position given the success of Loki and Doctor Strange 2.
Marvel Studios Is Already Making VFX Strides
Another area of MCU development that ought to face shake-ups as soon as this year is VFX, as the visuals behind many recent movies and shows have been subject to immense backlash. The studio has already made strides on this front, with The Marvels being delayed from July to November to allow more time for post-production and further VFX work.
Although Marvel Studios' changes on the VFX side are already being felt, there may be more changes to come on that front. Both Thor: Love and Thunder and Ant-Man 3's use of The Volume technology - which allows virtual environments to be projected on set in real-time - was regarded by many to have hurt their visuals, so it wouldn't be surprising to see fewer MCU projects utilize it moving forward.
While Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania was supposed to be the triumphant kick into gear for the MCU's Multiverse Saga storytelling, it instead proved to be a learning experience for Marvel Studios. Hopefully, those lessons will be taken to heart as Marvel Studios now begins to realize what made the MCU so successful in the first place and refocus on those elements.
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania is streaming now on Disney+.