Can Quantumania Give the MCU the Reset It Desperately Needs?

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania has been sold as a game-changing movie Marvel. Can it live up to that promise?

Jonathan Majors' Kang the Conqueror floats on a platform in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Comic book fans are well aware at this point that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is stuck in a bit of a rut. Despite releasing a handful of genuinely entertaining titles over the past few years, the MCU has failed to maintain the cultural importance that it firmly held just a few short years ago. Indeed, in the wake of 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, the MCU has struggled to deliver the kind of cohesive, cross-platform storytelling that it had previously perfected.

Fortunately, it looks Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which hits theaters next Friday, may provide the very course correction that the MCU desperately needs. At least, that’s certainly what Marvel Studios seems to want its fans to believe right now.

A New Conqueror — The first teaser for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania stays true to the kind of withholding marketing strategy that has previously done Marvel Studios a lot of good. The second Quantumania trailer, however, adopts a different approach.

Not only does the above trailer open with several lines of dialogue from Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror, but it’s practically overflowing with footage of the villain. The trailer even, in very non-typical Marvel fashion, features footage of what will, presumably, be Quantumania’s climactic brawl between Kang and Scott Lang (Paul Rudd). To call Kang’s heavy presence in the trailer surprising would be an understatement, especially given how purposefully restrained Marvel’s teasers usually are.

Nonetheless, since the trailer’s release, Marvel has rolled out even more Kang-centric Quantumania clips and featurettes. According to the studio, Kang’s role in the film will mark the true beginning of the MCU’s new, multi-phase Multiverse Saga. However, it’s worth asking: Is Quantumania actually going to be the game-changing MCU title that Marvel says it’ll be?

Jonathan Majors will make his second MCU appearance to date as Kang the Conqueror in this month’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

Marvel Studios

There are essentially two ways to read Marvel’s unusual, Kang-heavy marketing strategy for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. It’s either proof that Kang’s role in the upcoming film really will be just as impactful as, say, Thanos’ appearance in Avengers: Infinity War, or it’s just a desperate attempt on the part of Marvel to keep fans interested in the MCU’s increasingly messy post-Endgame story.

Comic book readers have, after all, been excited to see Majors’ Kang on-screen ever since the actor was cast in the role. Taking that into account, it’s not difficult to understand why Marvel might see a lot of value in breaking away from its usual strategy in order to sell Quantumania as the monumental Kang film that fans have been waiting for. The only problem is that, based on Marvel’s current Phase 5 and 6 slates, Quantumania still seems fairly disconnected from the films and TV shows that are set to follow it.

Additionally, some of the early reactions to Quantumania suggest that the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp sequel is already shaping up to be another uneven MCU adventure. There is, of course, no way of knowing right now how well those reactions will actually reflect the film’s overall critical reception, but a mixed initial response certainly isn’t what Marvel was hoping the buzz for Quantumania would be leading up to its release next week.

The Inverse Analysis — Marvel has done a lot over the past few weeks to build up the hype surrounding Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. However, while the studio has made the film out to be the first MCU installment in a while that genuinely can’t be missed, it’s worth looking at Marvel’s recent promises through squinted eyes.

It’s been nearly two full years since Jonathan Majors made his screen debut as (a version of) Kang the Conqueror in Loki Season 1, and Marvel has so far failed to follow through on that season’s game-changing, climactic promise. That means Quantumania currently has the potential to be the spiritual successor to either Avengers: Infinity War or the Loki Season 1 finale.

If Marvel’s promises about the film turn out to be accurate, there’s a safe chance Quantumania will have more in common with the former title than the latter. That’d be the best possible outcome because, frankly, it seems like Marvel has to deliver an Infinity War-sized adventure at this point if it wants to convince its fans that the MCU is still deserving of the same level of commitment that it once demanded.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania hits theaters on Friday, February 17.

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