Why I Am Delightfully Surprised Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania Didn’t Follow One Recent Marvel Trend
Major SPOILERS are ahead for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. If you haven't seen the film, proceed at your own risk.
In the past few years, Marvel fans been through a lot. We’ve said goodbye to core Avengers, watched as the MCU has changed and adapted following The Snap, and opened up our minds to the multiverse. There's been a lot of deaths as of late – but for the first time in a long time in a new Marvel movie, there wasn’t a major casualty in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. In particularly, it defies a recent trend in this franchise, and I’m both surprised and grateful about it: Janet van Dyne, a key maternal figure in the Ant-Man series, survives.
The two deaths that are in Quantumania are of little consequence. Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror dies, but that comes before it's unveiled that there are many variants of the character who are banded together for a common cause (setting up the major antagonist force that the Avengers will eventually to come together to face). MODOK also dies, but Corey Stoll’s Darren Cross was believed to be dead before he became a cyborg anyway. This is incredibly rare for a Marvel movie nowadays, and it is refreshing for a third act to not revolve around the death of a beloved character becoming the main source of motivation to finally defeat the forces of evil.
Marvel Keeps Killing Off Mother Figures For Emotional Payoff
Here’s the trend I’ve picked up on – most notably in 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home and 2022’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Marvel has been killing off mother figures in order to create a big emotional moment for the hero to deal with before defeating the big bad. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man watches Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May die in his arms before the casualty becomes the thing that bonds him together with the other Spider-Men, who then team up to take down a host of villains. In Wakanda Forever, Letitia Wright’s Shuri faces the loss of Angela Bassett’s Queen Ramonda before the third act, and her memory serves as a guiding light for her to do the right thing and she decides not to kill Namor in her mother’s honor.
In both movies, it makes sense for the story for the heroes' mother figures to die, but I also really don’t want to see a superhero’s mother die in every Marvel movie. It’s additionally been a plot point in the Thor movies (Rene Russo's Frigga dies in Thor: The Dark World) and similar beats have also extended to female love interests like Natalie Portman’s Jane in Thor: Love And Thunder and Zoe Saldana’s Gamora in Avengers: Infinity War (at least the one that Star-Lord loved).
Why I Was Delightfully Surprised Quantumania Didn’t Follow This Marvel Trend
Going into Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania, given this trend, part of me thought Michelle Pfeiffer's Janet van Dyne would be the next casualty in the MCU. I was thankfully wrong, but even the movie itself somewhat set this up. Janet Van Dyne is the character in the blockbuster with the most beef with Kang because she contributed the most to keeping him exiled in the Quantum Realm. As the story unfolds, we learn that Janet met Kang and, without knowing his true intentions, helped him rebuild the core for his ship so he could go back home. However, right before they were going to escape together, she touched a mechanism on the ship that was connected to his mind and saw the true villain he was.
There were plenty of times in Quantumania where Kang could have killed off Janet Van Dyne, but thankfully the movie saves us from watching another awesome mother figure from dying within its runtime.
Michelle Pfeiffer Is The MVP Of Quantumania
We can be very thankful that Janet doesn't die, because Michelle Pfieffer is the best part of Quantumania. The actress gets a really meaty and interesting role as she returns to the unique and war-torn place she spent 30 years being stuck in. How the story follows Janet as she seeks to protect her family, now stuck in the same place with her, and how her knowledge of the place helps them is a great move for the movie. Her relationship with Kang is intriguing to see play out in flashbacks.
Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania shows that mothers in the MCU are not meerly tools for us to watch die and then mourn over with the protagonists. They can be heroes in their own right and beneficial to the plot of the story, and survive at the end of the day. It’s a good message to put out there, especially for there being more longevity for older actresses like Michelle Pfieffer in a movie franchise as big as the MCU. It’s been some time since she had such a big stage on which to play a leading role, and she is absolutely incredible here. It's great to see Marvel not sidelining a great actress such as her and see her pull out another wonderful performance amidst all the MCU order of business going on in the Ant-Man sequel.
Quantumania Shows Major Characters Don’t Always Have To Die To Up The Stakes
Moving forward, Marvel hopefully doesn’t just jump back into their old tricks regarding mother figures. It’s beneficial to have stories of heroes with and without parents, and I’m honestly just super happy that by the end of Quantumania the whole Lang/Van Dyne family starts and ends their journey together without some major death to deal with. It's a good palette cleanser following so many more emotional MCU movies – especially as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 looks like it will undoubtedly breaks us when we say goodbye to the bunch of assholes-turned-superheroes.
While it remains to be seen if and when Michelle Pfieffer’s Janet Van Dyne will continue to have importance in the MCU, the events of Quantumania put so much of the spotlight on her and the development of her character that I’m completely satisfied with how she was handled in the sequel. While mothers living and dying is most certainly part of life in the MCU and real life, I’m happy Hope still has both her parents as a support system, and Cassie Lang has grandparents. It’s super cute to see multiple generations continue to survive and fight together in the MCU.
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