Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania share numerous narrative similarities, from secret backstories to settings with similar visuals. Both movies feature secondary villains who undergo a change of heart after a quick conversation. Additionally, both films deliver fake-out deaths for their main characters. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a more natural continuation of the previous films, while Quantumania feels disconnected. The former explores the characters’ growth and ties up loose ends, while the latter loses the charm and humor of the earlier Ant-Man movies.

After 15 years of movies, it’s not surprising that some MCU projects share intended or accidental similarities, but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania have a particularly surprising number of narrative beats and character archetypes in common. The Guardians tracking down a villain from Rocket’s past and team Ant-Man getting stuck in the Quantum Realm may not sound overly similar, but a closer inspection reveals quite the opposite. From villains to narrative turns, each may inspire a sense of déjà vu.

What’s more interesting, though, is the vastly different critical reception the latest Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy projects received. Despite their striking similarities, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 immediately joined the ranks of the best movies in the MCU while Quantumania largely disappoints. Examining why one works and one doesn’t offers valuable insight into what the MCU can do to keep its future movies fresh, emotionally effective, and exciting.


10 Best MCU Moments Of 2023

Marvel Studios released 5 MCU projects in 2023, and while reception varied, the best moments of the year deserve to be counted among the very best.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 And Quantumania Have Similar Narrative Beats

Both Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania have their narratives kicked off by secret backstories that one of the main characters tried to keep private (Janet’s history with Kang and Rocket’s time with the High Evolutionary). Both stories have the team of heroes travel to a new place (the Quantum Realm and Kang’s planet/ship). Furthermore, the cosmic setting of GotG 3 and Quantumania’s Quantum Realm look strikingly similar.


How To Watch the Marvel Movies In Order (By Release Date & In Order Of MCU Timeline Events)

Want to catch up before the next release, or just revisit the universe for a refresher? Here’s the order to watch the entire MCU timeline.

Both movies feature a secondary villain undergoing a change of heart with a single conversation. MODOK changes sides after Cassie’s “Don’t be a dick” speech and Adam is moved by “Everyone deserves a second chance.” Moreover, both of these antagonists are colored pure gold. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3‘s ending delivers a fake-out Star-Lord death, and Quantumania does the same with Scott Lang. Despite predictions that both movies would kill at least one main character, neither did. The main villains, too, have a lot in common.

Kang The Conqueror And The High Evolutionary Have A Lot In Common

At first glance, Quantumania’s Kang the Conqueror and GotG 3‘s High Evolutionary don’t seem to have much in common, but they’re actually quite similar. In terms of demeanor, both present themselves with quiet confidence but quickly give in to fits of rage when things start to not go their way. Furthermore, both seem to get telekinetic-like superpowers from advanced suits and futuristic technology but are powerless without them. Both of those suits also happen to be either fully or largely purple.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 Is A Logical Continuation

The question, then, is why GotG 3 works so well while Quantumania struggles to be as memorable or engaging. The first reason is that GotG 3 is a much more natural continuation of the movies that precede it than Ant-Man’s trilogy closer. Rocket’s background has been teased since the franchise’s first movie, and the crew’s quest to save him shows how much every Guardian has grown since their introduction. Adam and Ayesha may have been largely sidelined, but even their inclusion and ties to the High Evolutionary continue threads set up in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Related: Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania Ending Explained (In Detail)

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania does tie a bit into previous movies, but the project as a whole seems much more disconnected from Ant-Man and its first sequel. It was clearly established that Janet was stuck in the Quantum Realm, but the jarring shift from relatively low-stakes and grounded affairs to a massive sci-fi epic means Quantumania leaves behind the quaint charm and humor the series was previously known for. It may have worked better as the start of a new trilogy, but Quantumania seems to forget why Ant-Man and its sequel were well-received.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 Kept The Story Personal

The stakes in Quantumania are huge, but the scale – Kang’s threat to continue his multiversal conquest – actually works against the movie. The danger is simply too big, and those put in the most immediate danger are the Quantum Realm rebels, none of whom audiences are given much time or reason to care for. Big threats work, but only when there are also more personal and relatable elements to it.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 features the destruction of an entire planet and, presumably, millions of lives, but it’s not positioned as the actual dramatic hook. The High Evolutionary has massive potential for violence, but the story is so emotionally evocative because of the villain’s history with and impact on Rocket. It’s far easier to care about a hero that’s been built up across several movies than a more generic group of new characters.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 Works Well Because It Brings Closure

Though GotG 3 and Quantumania are both the third movies in their respective franchises, one brings its story to a close while the other feels like a prelude for future movies. Though Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ends by promising “The Legendary Star-Lord Will Return,” every member of the team has a satisfying ending. The same can’t be said for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which leaves the fate of Kang, his promised disaster, and almost everything else a bit up in the air. Though interconnectivity is a selling point of the MCU, the franchise must also embrace tight storytelling with actual (even if temporary) closure.

 Tow MCU movies seem awfully familiar.  Read More