May 28, 2023

It really only gets worse when we dive deeper into the numbers. Not only is this one of the worst-reviewed MCU movies to date right alongside “Eternals,” but it’s also one of the lowest-grossing overall. Of the 31 MCU movies to arrive in theaters since 2008’s “Iron Man,” only six of them have earned less globally than “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” They are “Thor” ($449 million), “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” ($432 million), “Eternals” ($401 million), “Black Widow” ($379 million), “Captain America: The First Avenger” ($370 million), and “The Incredible Hulk” ($265 million).

Three of those movies (“Shang-Chi,” “Eternals,” “Black Widow”) were all hampered by the pandemic in various ways, while the other three were all part of Phase 1 of the MCU while the universe was still taking shape. Even so, “Thor” was a pretty sizable success for a fantasy movie at the time. This to say, “Quantumania” is one of the only outright flops in the history of the larger franchise. “Eternals” was a risky bet on unknown characters that was dealt a bad hand by Covid in addition to its mixed reviews. In this case, we’re dealing with Paul Rudd’s third solo outing as Scott Lang. It should have built on what came before, rather than go tumbling down in the wrong direction.

One must wonder at what point this becomes a concern for the MCU in a larger way. Recent MCU sequels like “Thor: Love and Thunder” also underperformed compared to their predecessors critically and commercially, with Marvel’s brand showing some signs of wear. If “The Marvels” or (unlikely though it may be) “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” underperform as well, it may be time for Bob Iger and Kevin Feige to take a much harder look at things behind the scenes.

“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantuamania” arrives on Digital on April 18, 2023, and Blu-ray about one month later on May 16.

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