The Marvel "Parenting Curse" Is Very Real– Can Paul Rudd Break It?
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is bringing parenting angst back to the MCU. Can we stop with this?
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania seems like it’s going to be a huge movie for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, setting up the arrival of the big new villain, Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors), kicking off the Multiverse Saga. However, based on the second trailer, which premiered on Monday, it also seems like it’s going to be more of the same, continuing one of the MCU’s increasingly exhausting traditions. Please, Marvel, I am begging you: Let a parent just be normal. For once.
Being a father has always been a huge part of Scott Lang’s character. Scott, as played by Paul Rudd, is deeply devoted to his daughter Cassie and he wants, more than anything, to be a good dad to her. In the first two Ant-Man movies, this fatherly love came through in (relatively) grounded ways. First Scott wants to atone for the time he missed out with her while in prison and to stay on good terms with her mom (and his ex-wife), then he wants to dutifully serve his time under house arrest so that nothing else gets in the way of time spent with Cassie.
The events of Infinity War and Endgame, of course, threw a wrench in Scott’s plans. He found himself trapped in the quantum realm, only to emerge five years later to a world missing 50 percent of its population. Perhaps more devastating for Scott was the fact that Cassie, his little girl, had grown up and he’d missed it. Scott and the now-teenaged Cassie (played by Emma Fuhrmann in Endgame, though Kathryn Newton was recast in the role for Quantumania), end the film happily watching fireworks together.
The trailer for Quantumania makes it seem like Scott is not ready to give up those five years he missed. Upon being sucked once more into the quantum realm, it appears that Scott will come into contact with Kang, played once more by Jonathan Majors, who first appeared as (a different multiversal version of) Kang in the Disney+ Loki series. Kang — a totemic and complex villain from Marvel Comics lore — is a huge threat to the multiverse, as Janet says he can “rewrite reality at will.” However, that may be just what Scott wants.
“I don’t care who this guy is,” Scott says in the trailer. “I just lost so much. He can give us a second chance.”
As the parent of a 1-year-old, I can say, if I missed out on five years of her childhood, I imagine I would want a second chance, too. But this sort of wreckless tampering with reality or the nature of power is becoming almost a cliche for MCU parents. In Thor: Love and Thunder, Gorr the Godbutcher goes on a divine killing spree after his daughter dies, eventually wishing for her return from an almighty cosmic entity. In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Wanda goes mad because she misses her “children” she created in WandaVision, prompting her to go on a multiversal rampage where she attempts to kill a child and replace an alternate version of herself who actually is a mom. Scott working with Kang the Conqueror — even if it’s temporary — to change reality so he gets more father-daughter time? Sounds darn near familiar.
Go back further in the MCU and there’s a whole host of complicated parental relationships. Star-Lord’s father Ego wants to use his son to help take over the universe. Xu Wenwu wants Shang-Chi to follow in his footsteps and lead the ultra-powerful Ten Rings, unwittingly releasing an eldritch horror in the process. Spider-Man gets multiversal help in avenging the death of Aunt May. Shuri wages war when Namor kills her mother. Odin was perhaps not the greatest father to Thor, Loki, and Hela. Tony Stark has some daddy issues. Hawkeye seemingly is a well-adjusted father in Hawkeye, but, he had to turn into an insane murderer when his family was snapped away by Thanos. We could go on.
What was nice about the first two Ant-Man movies was that Scott and Cassie’s relationship was pretty normal. The stakes were important but — as is perhaps fitting for Ant-Man — not oversized. In Ant-Man, Scott is trying to prove that he can be there for Cassie and that he has what it takes to be a good influence in her life.
The biggest threat to their relationship is that Cassie’s stepdad, Bobby Cannavale, doesn’t approve of Scott. The emotional stakes are relatable. Scott fixes the problem not just by beating Cory Stoll’s Yellowjacket, but by being a better dad and capable co-parent with his ex.
In Quantumania, Scott’s gonna fix the problem by rewriting the multiverse with the help of someone named Kang the Conqueror. It’s all a little much. Hopefully, Ant-Man and the Wasp can avoid fully falling victim to the MCU parenting curse. Maybe Scott won’t end up being that tempted by Kang, and he’ll be a good father (and not die.) And, ideally, the next few Marvel movies won’t be about parents going insane and doing insane things for their kids.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania hits theaters on February 17, 2023.
When will, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania hit Disney+?
Although Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a theatrical release, the current window between a theatrical release, and a streaming release is roughly 45 days. This means, that potentially, by the end of March, or early April, Ant-Man 3 will be on Disney+.