Why Is ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’s Rotten Tomatoes Score So Low?
The long wait for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is finally over. The film premiered on February 17, marking the third film in the Ant-Man series and the very first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 5. As a result, it came with a bit of pressure to kick off Phase 5 on a high note. However, many anticipated that it would exceed expectations as it prepared to further integrate Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) into the MCU.
The highly popular Marvel Comics villain first made his MCU debut in Loki as the variant He Who Remains. However, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’s marketing quickly established that it was introducing a far more brutal and sinister variant, more in line with the Kang the Conqueror of the comics who achieved world domination.
Additionally, the Ant-Man films have generally fared pretty well in the MCU. While not everyone appreciated the films’ more light-hearted and comedic tone, both Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp were box office successes and received largely positive reviews. The talents of Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, and Michelle Pfeiffer also greatly elevated the films’ quality. With the additional talent of Majors added to Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the film was headed in a good direction.
With the film’s release, as everyone has been gushing over Kang the Conqueror and discussing the thrilling post-credits scenes, critic and audience reviews have started pouring in. Just a day into its worldwide theatrical release, the critics’ consensus on Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is leaning further towards “rotten” on Rotten Tomatoes. As of the writing of this article, the film boasts a 48% score on the review aggregate site, putting it just one percentage away from becoming the worst-rated MCU film of all time. Eternals is just barely hanging onto that title with its record-breaking low score of 47%.
Why is Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania getting low ratings?
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’s rather low Rotten Tomatoes score may seem surprising. The film seemingly has it all: an enormously talented cast, an iconic villain, and a sturdy foundation. So, what happened? While the reviews are a mixture of positive and negative, the negative reviews are largely in agreement with one another on the shortcomings of the film. Several recurring words in these reviews are “average,” “disappointing,” “unsatisfying,” “formulaic,” and “unnecessary.” Many feel the film is entertaining and has highlights, such as the Majors’ performance and the grand visuals. However, a film being enjoyable isn’t enough to make up for it feeling unnecessary and, thus, unsatisfying.
In the wider scope of the MCU, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania definitely feels like a filler episode to me. The fact is, not a lot actually happens. The moments that are the most impactful to the MCU don’t take place until the post-credits scenes. Hence, it really seems like Marvel made a 2-hour movie for the sake of a few seconds-long teasers of Kang as the MCU’s future villain.
I know, as a viewer, that what I was hoping for was a full development and establishment of Kang the Conqueror in the MCU, not a tease that something more with the character is happening in the background and will come to fruition at some later unknown date. Still, even beyond that expectation, as many critics pointed out, the film doesn’t offer much else, either, being very formulaic and predictable. It’s a typical tale of a dictator taking over, a few underdogs showing up to boost morale, and the people revolting, complete with one character even giving a fiery, dramatic speech to spark the rebellion and all.
Another reason why the film falls short is its pace and plot. The film is very overstuffed and moves at a whirlwind pace that will leave some viewers completely overwhelmed. Director Peyton Reed does a superb job of world-building and making the Quantum Realm a functioning universe instead of an ambiguous place referenced from time to time.
However, the film is trying to tell the whole story of the Quantum Realm and its people in one film, while simultaneously telling Janet Van Dyne’s (Pfeiffer) secret story, Scott Lang’s (Rudd) and his daughter’s story, and Kang’s rise. It all ends up just being a bit too much, with attention being given disproportionately to each major facet of the film. Hope (Lilly) being relegated largely to a side character is just one example of the drawbacks of this overstuffing.
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Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania Rotten Tomatoes score explained
Overall, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’s low Rotten Tomatoes score is a bit more understandable coming from the perspective of critics gauging its impact and necessity. However, the score is not wholly indicative of how everyone will feel about it. After all, the audience score is a whopping 84%, in stark contrast to the critics’ score.
This is because, as the mixed reviews confirm, the film has almost as many positives as it does negatives, and is still a very enjoyable film. Many critics even concede that the film is worth watching; it just isn’t a perfect film on par with some of the MCU’s biggest hits. However, Rotten Tomatoes is unique in the way it aggregates review scores, not averaging them, but instead turning each review into a binary “good” or “bad” (“fresh” or “rotten”) and displaying the percentage of “fresh” reviews out of the total number of reviews. In that process, the nuance of the individual reviews is lost, which can have strange results when reviewers are conflicted, as they are with this movie.
The low score is a bit more interesting in how it relates to the MCU as a whole, though. This is because it fits within a pattern of MCU films receiving lower ratings. In just 2 years, the MCU has released its 3 lowest Rotten Tomatoes-scored films of all time: Eternals, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
Is Marvel starting to lose its touch, or are critics just not used to seeing the franchise deviate from its expected course and try new things? The answer to this question is unknown and will likely take more time to answer. However, if these scores start to impact box office performances, as they are known to sometimes do, they could become pretty serious in the MCU’s future.
(featured image: Disney)
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