The latest Marvel movie, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, had one of the steepest week-over-week dropoffs at the box office in recent memory. The much-maligned film has been blasted by critics. It has become only the second Marvel film to receive a “rotten” score from Rotten Tomatoes. This indicates that people are generally dismissive of this free-wheeling entry in the long-running Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But is the movie actually that bad, or are critics suffering from superhero fatigue? Let’s take a closer look at the microscopic Quantum Realm.
Marvel Studios is well known for its visually-impressive films and its gripping narrative arcs anchored by compelling superheroes. However, Ant-Man 3 is slightly different from the usual quality. The film takes place almost entirely in the Quantum Realm, the microcosmic world found in a region small enough to fit inside an atom.
Much of the film’s runtime is spent looking at muddy, ever-shifting CGI backgrounds. The actors had to spend so much time in front of green screens that it’s noticeable and odd when they interact with physical objects in the spaces around them. And one side character in particular, the villainous MODOK, looks so bad that many reviewers were stunned his stretched-out face was the final product used for an effect in a big-budget Marvel film.
Another issue plaguing the film is that the emotional stakes the characters are fighting for aren’t believable due to the extremely poor quality of the performances. Outside of Paul Rudd, who plays the title character, and Jonathan Majors, who plays the villain Kang the Conqueror, every actor seems to be fully phoning it in here.
Bill Murray’s thankfully short-lived cameo deserves special attention here. The actor appears to have no desire to do anything in his scenes aside from getting a fat paycheck from Marvel. His line readings are oddly timed and hard to follow, and his acting is shockingly wooden and bland.
Still, the film isn’t a complete trainwreck. Despite being visually ugly and full of awful performances, it’s got its bright spots. Rudd and Majors, as mentioned, absolutely carry the film through its third act. Some of the wacky side characters in the Quantum Realm are genuinely fun to watch. And, the title is certainly full of imagination. Still, it’s not surprising that the movie fell off so hard in its second weekend. Word of mouth surrounding this entry is unusually negative for a Marvel feature. It’s also facing stiff competition from the novel Cocaine Bear, itself an unhinged picture with no superheroes in sight.