Major SPOILERS are ahead for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. If you haven’t seen the film, proceed at your own risk.
Over the past few years, Marvel fans have been through a lot. We said goodbye to the core Avengers, saw the MCU change and adapt after The Snap, and opened our minds to the multiverse. There have been a lot of deaths lately – but for the first time in a long time in a new marvel moviethere were no major casualties in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. In particular, it challenges a recent trend in this franchise, one that I’m both surprised and grateful for: Janet van Dyne, a key mother figure in the The ant Man series, survives.
The two dead who are in Quantumania are of little importance. Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror dies, but this comes before it’s revealed that there are many variations of the character who are brought together for a common cause (setting up the main antagonistic force that the Avengers will eventually come together to face). MODOK also dies, but Corey Stoll’s Darren Cross was believed to be dead before becoming a cyborg anyway. It’s incredibly rare for a Marvel movie these days, and it’s refreshing for a third act to not revolve around the death of a beloved character becoming the primary motivator to finally defeat the forces of evil.
Marvel Keeps Killing Mother Figures For Emotional Gain
Here is the trend I have noticed – especially in 2021 Spider-Man: No Coming Home and 2022 Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Marvel killed off mother figures to create a big emotional moment for the hero before defeating the big bad. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man Watches Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May Die into his arms before the victim becomes the thing that binds him to the other Spider-Men, who then team up to take down a host of villains. In wakanda foreverthe faces of shuri by letitia wright The Loss of Queen Ramonda by Angela Bassett before the third act, and her memory serves as her guide to do the right thing and she decides not to kill Namor in honor of her mother.
In both movies, it makes sense for the story of the heroes’ mother figures to die, but I really don’t want to see a superhero’s mother die in every Marvel movie either. This was also a plot point in the Thor films (Frigga by René Russo dies in Thor: The Dark World) and similar beats also extended to female love interests like Natalie Portman’s Jane in Thor: Love and Thunder and Gamora by Zoe Saldana in Avengers: Infinity War (at least the one Star-Lord liked).
Why I Was Deliciously Surprised Quantumania Didn’t Follow This Marvel Trend
Go in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, given this trend, part of me thought that Michelle Pfeiffer’s Janet van Dyne would be the MCU’s next victim. I was thankfully wrong, but even the movie itself set this up somewhat. Janet Van Dyne is the blockbuster character with the most beef with Kang because she was the most instrumental in keeping him exiled to the Quantum Realm. As the story unfolds, we learn that Janet met Kang and, without knowing his true intentions, helped him rebuild the core of his ship so he could return home. However, just before they escaped together, she touched a mechanism on the ship that was connected to her mind and saw the true villain that he was.
There were plenty of times in Quantumania where Kang could have killed Janet Van Dyne, but thankfully the movie saves us from watching another genius mother figure die during her execution.
Michelle Pfeiffer is Quantumania’s MVP
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, war-torn place where she spent 30 years stuck. How the story follows Janet as she seeks to protect her family, now stuck in one place with her, and how her knowledge of the location helps them is a great move for the film. Her relationship with Kang is intriguing to watch unfold in flashbacks.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania shows that the MCU’s mothers aren’t just tools for us to watch die and then grieve with the protagonists. They can be heroes in their own right and beneficial to the plot of the story, and survive the end of the day. It’s a good message to spread, especially because there’s more longevity for older actresses like Michelle Pfieffer in a movie franchise as big as the MCU. It’s been a while since she’s had such a big stage to star on, and she’s absolutely amazing here. It’s great to see Marvel not sideline a great actress like her and see her put out another wonderful performance amid all the MCU order of business going on in the The ant Man following.
Quantumania shows main characters don’t always have to die to raise the stakes
In the future, Marvel will hopefully not just go back to its old mother figure tricks. It’s beneficial to have hero stories with and without parents, and I’m honestly super glad that at the end of Quantumania the entire Lang/Van Dyne family begins and ends their journey together with no major deaths to deal with. It’s a good palette cleanser after so many more emotional MCU films – especially since Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 it looks like it’s definitely gonna break 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 matter in the MCU, the events of Quantumania put so much emphasis on her and her character development that I’m completely happy with how she was treated in the sequel. While mothers who live and die are most certainly a part of life in the MCU and real life, I’m glad Hope still has both of 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.