The MCU Doesn't Need An Ant-Man 3

Ant-Man 3 might not happen, but that's not loss for the MCU. Here's why Marvel doesn't need a sequel (and how the Pyms can live on without one).

The Marvel Cinematic Universe really doesn't need Ant-Man 3. Most Marvel franchises come in threes, and as a result viewers naturally expected Marvel to sign off on Ant-Man 3. What's more, in narrative terms there's clearly a lot for this film to explore; the Quantum Realm may have been important in both Ant-Man & the Wasp and Avengers: Endgame, but in conceptual terms it's still relatively undefined. Ant-Man & the Wasp producer Stephen Broussard has suggested that was entirely deliberate, and that Ant-Man 3 would explore the Quantum Realm in far greater detail.

And yet, although director Peyton Reed was initially hopeful Ant-Man 3 would be made, it doesn't seem to be a priority for Marvel Studios. Star Paul Rudd isn't sure if it will happen, even suggesting that fans may need to run a campaign to exert pressure on the "top brass." And, to be fair, the Ant-Man films have never numbered among the MCU's biggest success stories, with Ant-Man & the Wasp grossing just $216 million in the domestic box office. It was the worst-performing movie in the entire MCU Phase 3 slate, and performed on par with Phase 1 films from before Marvel Studios truly became the powerhouse it now is.

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Related: How MCU Phase 4 Will Be Shaped By The Quantum Realm

But while fans of the Ant-Man movies may be saddened by no other solo outing for the Lang/Pym/van Dyne family, that needn't mean there's no more Giant-Man and Wasp in the MCU going forward. As it currently stands, the MCU just doesn't really need an Ant-Man 3.

Ant-Man Is Better In Team-Ups, Not His Own Movies

Giant-Man Concept Art From Captain America: Civil War

Marvel Studios always seem to have been aware that Paul Rudd's Scott Lang worked best in team-ups. Even Ant-Man featured a Falcon cameo in which the two heroes went head-to-head, and it's generally viewed as the best scene in the entire movie. Since then, Lang has been a major player in both Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Endgame. Frankly, nothing in the Ant-Man films matches the spectacle of Ant-Man's participation in the Airport Battle in Civil War, his emotional reaction to the snap in Avengers: Endgame, or the triumphant moment in which he bursts out of the rubble for the final battle against Thanos' army. None of the Ant-Man movies themselves have any singular moments with Scott Lang that match up.

Even in the comics, some superheroes are second-tier. It's not that they aren't cool or can have interesting stories, but they just don't quite work as the stars of their own book; they're more effective as part of a team, and as a result they only ever get an occasional miniseries. Ant-Man is the MCU equivalent of that, a second-tier hero whose interaction with other characters is thrilling, but whose solo adventures just don't quite work as well. The box office takings perfectly support this conclusion.

The Ant-Man Movies Have Failed To Embrace The Concept

A core part of the problem is that the Ant-Man movies have failed to commit to the core concept, which at heart is pretty fantastical and trippy. They're first-and-foremost character-driven comedies, but the shrinking and enlarging and Quantum Realming should be core to the premise; on paper, Ant-Man is Marvel's Honey, I Shrunk The Superheroes. And yet neither movie has used the concept beyond visual flavoring.

That was understandable for 2015's Ant-Man, a troubled production that lost its first director, Edgar Wright, months before cameras started rolling. For Ant-Man & the Wasp, though, Peyton Reed pretty much had a blank slate. The sequel failed to commit to interesting ideas like the Quantum Realm, instead focusing on a fairly light heist plot, and didn't put much effort into having the various subplots and characters work together. Hannah John-Kamen's Ghost was a villain made hyper-sympathetic yet lacked the subtlety and nuance that a character suffering from a chronic pain syndrome could have demonstrated. Michelle Pfeiffer's Janet Van Dyne was more of a MacGuffin than an actual three-dimensional character, not even seeming to struggle to deal with the fact she was returning to the world after 30 years living in isolation. All the usual Marvel style was on show, but nothing quite paid off, and as a result, Ant-Man & the Wasp didn't resonate on an emotional level.

Related: Ant-Man & The Wasp Was The MCU's Biggest Missed Opportunity

That presumably explains the Ant-Man movies' poor box office performance; they're amusing, family-friendly adventures, but their character-work leaves a lot to be desired and they don't ever connect in a deep way to the themes and ideas that they attempt to play with. They feel more like a non-Marvel fan's idea of what a Marvel film looks like. While that's possibly fixable with an Ant-Man 3, there's no need to go through the motions again.

The MCU's Future Is Bigger Than Ant-Man

Considering what Marvel Studios' future looks like, it's not exactly like Ant-Man 3 has a place anyway. Although Marvel is attempting to keep their Phase 4 slate under wraps until after the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home, they're known to have productions such as Black WidowThe EternalsShang-ChiBlack Panther 2, and Doctor Strange 2 in various stages of development. While some of these are pretty mysterious - why is this the right time for a Black Widow solo movie, given the character was killed off in Avengers: Endgame? - any one of these ideas is more exciting and potentially impactful than the rather safe prospect of Ant-Man 3.

It's important to remember that a studio can only release so many films each year; in Marvel's case, they typically release three, and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige seems wary of doing four. That means every movie is a strategic choice on Marvel's part, because everyone they choose to make inevitably pushes back other options. In the aftermath of the Disney/Fox acquisition, Marvel now has the X-Men and the Fantastic Four - and all their associated characters - to play around with as well. In that light, Ant-Man 3 being a lower-priority knocks it off the slate entirely.

Related: Every Phase 4 MCU Movie In Development

Ant-Man Can Live On In The Young Avengers

Importantly, no Ant-Man 3 doesn't necessarily mean that the MCU will abandon characters who have such a tremendous amount of potential. Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne are now proven Avengers and ripe for roles in future ensemble films, while Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne would clearly be secondary characters in any stories involving the Quantum Realm. Janet spent 30 years there, after all, so she knows it better than anyone. But the most interesting future surely belongs to Cassie Lang.

Related: MCU Phase 4 Theory: Endgame's Iron Man 3 Cameo Sets Up Young Avengers

Marvel has been slowly repositioning Cassie for a role in a Young Avengers project, where she becomes a superhero in honor of her dad. They've been quite open about it, with Feige even discussing the idea in interviews after Ant-Man & the Wasp. "We love that Cassie in this movie in particular is inspired by her father," Feige noted, "[and she] wants to do good. Certainly, we're following that trend. Where, when, how, we'll see, but I think [Young Avengers] would be cool."

The one problem then was Cassie's age; she was far too young to become the superhero Stature, the identity Cassie takes in the comics. Avengers: Endgame's five-year time jump neatly deals with that issue, meaning the recast Cassie is five years older and reunited with her father. She's now primed for a Young Avengers project - whether in a film or Disney+ TV series - meaning the Ant-Man mantle and concepts can live on far into the future. The MCU can drop Ant-Man 3 with no loss at all.

Next: Ant-Man 3: Every Update You Need To Know

Key Release Dates
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
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