Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has been described as the first horror film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Fans might expect this comparison to be exaggerated, but the revered horror legend Sam Raimi infused the film with some signature scary touches, like demonic spirits swarming into Strange’s zombie form in the finale. The one hour special Werewolf by Night of the director Michael Giacchino is more of a celebration of classic gothic horror films, but it too features some creatively disturbing scenes, such as the mechanically reanimated corpse of Ulysses Bloodstone.
These installments have demonstrated the MCU’s horror credentials while pushing the boundaries of the family film saga, but another film appears to continue the experiment of Marvel Studios with the type: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantummania from Peyton Reed. The trailer for the film shows disturbing yet fascinating images of Scott Lang who meets a painful fate. Not only that, but rumors and leaks have promised the live action debut of MODOKone of the creepiest villains in the Marvel. Could Quantumania challenge Multiverse of Madness and Werewolf by Night to become the scariest project in the MCU?
The Ant-Man series has already gone dark in the past
In Ant-Manthe antagonist Darren “Yellowjacket” Cross he wielded a malfunctioning experimental shrink gun that turned a sheep and then a Pym Tech employee into a pile of guts and viscera. Not necessarily scary, but surprisingly creepy for the MCU, especially for younger children. The sequel to him, Ant-Man and the Waspwas centered around the rescue mission of Janet van Dyne from the mysterious Quantum Realm. The anthology What If…? of the MCU showed a dark side of the Quantum Realm, as Janet brought with her a quantum disease that infected the universe Marvel with a zombie plague.
Quantummania is unlikely to pick up on the zombie story, but What If…? hints at the scariest part of the Quantum Realm, which is how unknown its myriad contents are. When Hope van Dyne asks Janet what she’s afraid of in the trailer, Janet replies that “there’s something I’ve never told you.” Her fear of her going back to the Quantum Realm is not just about being trapped again, but also about what she is hiding inside of her.
A multiverse variant of Ant-Man could meet a grisly fate in Quantummania
The denizens of the Quantum Realm have a creepy, if not downright scary design. A sentry at 1:04 appears to have a glowing cylinder for a head. A bartender at 1:42 appears to have skin stretched around a robotic skeleton.
However, the most horrific part of the trailer comes at the 1:50 mark, when Scott appears to be running alongside another giant version of himself whose body supernaturally disintegrates. This is scary not only because it feels like a painful experience, reminiscent of the analogous unraveling of Reed Richards in Multiverse of madness, but also for the way it defies the laws of physics. The fact that such a surreal thing can happen to a person underscores how nothing works as intended in the Quantum Realm, e Ant-Man and the team will face threats they can’t even imagine.
Of course, it’s still possible that this isn’t a multiverse variant of Scott facing a terrible fate, but rather a holographic projection. After all, the version of Jonathan Majors from Kang the Conqueror will likely be a brilliant inventor like his comic book counterpart, and the figure appears in the trailer just as the voiceover of Kang offers Scott “more time.” The other Scott could be a visual metaphor for that Kang projects to torture him, symbolically representing how prison, the Blip, and his job as an Avenger are running out of time for Scott’s family.
MODOK might be the scariest villain in the MCU
It’s also possible that the scariest part of Quantummania hasn’t been officially revealed yet. The iconic villain of the marvel comicsthe arrogant cyber genius MODOK, will make his film debut in live action. The brain of MODOK it is so magnified that it resembles a giant human head with arms and legs dangling from metal armor. This look is creepy enough on the page, but the MCU has always taken the wackier comic book characters and made them plausible in a 3D space. This means that the creative team at Quantumania will likely design a version of MODOK which will force the audience to think about the horror and tragedy of George Tarleton’s nightmarish transformation.
Ultimately, Multiverse of Madness and Werewolf by Night are perhaps the deepest explorations of the horror genre in the MCU, but Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantummania it has the potential to surpass them in terms of sheer creepiness. The film is unlikely to be scary enough to alienate younger fans or those who are simply more interested in heroes than horror. Still, it’s good that the long-running series continues to use themes and imagery that challenge audiences and stick in their minds long after the credits roll.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantummania will hit theaters on February 17, 2023.