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How Ant-Man 3 May Step up the MCU’s Horror Game After Doctor Strange 2

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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has been described as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first horror movie. Fans may have expected this comparison to be an exaggeration, but venerated horror legend Sam Raimi infused the movie with some characteristically scary touches, such as the demonic spirits that swarm Strange’s zombie form in the finale. Director Michael Giacchino’s one-hour Werewolf by Night special is more of a celebration of classic Gothic horror movies, but it too has some creatively disturbing scenes of its own, such as the mechanically-reanimated corpse of Ulysses Bloodstone.

These installments proved the MCU’s horror credentials while stretching the boundaries of the family-friendly film saga, but another film looks to continue Marvel Studio’s experiment with the genre: Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. The film’s trailer shows some disturbing yet fascinating imagery of Scott Lang meeting a painful-looking fate. Not only this but rumors and leaks have promised the live-action debut of MODOK, one of Marvel’s creepiest-looking villains. Could Quantumania challenge Multiverse of Madness and Werewolf by Night to become the scariest MCU project?

RELATED: A Cut Doctor Strange 2 Scene Proved Sam Raimi Held Back the Horror

The Ant-Man Series Has Gone Dark Before

Darren Cross In Ant-Man

In Ant-Man, antagonist Darren “Yellowjacket” Cross wielded a malfunctioning experimental shrink gun that turned a sheep and then a Pym Tech employee into a small pile of guts and viscera. Not necessarily scary, but surprisingly disturbing for the MCU, especially for younger kids. Its sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, focused on a mission to rescue Janet van Dyne from the mysterious Quantum Realm. The MCU’s What If…? anthology showed a dark side to the Quantum Realm, as Janet brought a quantum sickness with her that infected the Marvel universe with a zombie plague.

It’s unlikely Quantumania will retread the zombie story, but What If…? does foreshadow the scariest part of the Quantum Realm, which is how unknown its myriad contents are. When Hope van Dyne asks Janet what she is afraid of in the trailer, Janet replies that “there’s something I never told you.” Her fear of returning to the Quantum Realm is not just about being trapped again but that which is hidden within.

RELATED: Ant-Man 3 IMAX Trailer Upgrades the Quantum Realm to 4K

A Multiverse Variant of Ant-Man Might Meet a Grisly Fate in Quantumania

The inhabitants of the Quantum Realm have some uncanny, if not scary, designs. One sentry character at 1:04 appears to have a glowing cylinder for a head. A bartender at 1:42 looks like their skin is stretched tightly around a robotic skeleton.

However, the most horrific part of the trailer comes at 1:50, at which point Scott appears to run alongside another giant version of himself whose body becomes supernaturally unraveled. This is scary not only because it seems like a painful experience, calling to mind Reed Richards’ similar unraveling in Multiverse of Madness, but because of how it defies the laws of physics. The fact that such a surreal thing can happen to a person emphasizes how nothing works as expected in the Quantum Realm, and Ant-Man and the team will have to face threats they can’t even imagine.

Of course, it’s still possible that this isn’t a multiverse variation of Scott facing a terrible fate but rather a holographic projection. After all, Jonathan Majors’ version of Kang the Conqueror will likely be a brilliant inventor like his comics counterpart, and the figure appears in the trailer just as Kang’s voiceover offers Scott “more time.” The other Scott could be a visual metaphor that Kang is projecting to torture him, symbolically representing how prison, the Blip, and his Avengers work are causing Scott’s time with his family to run out.

RELATED: MCU Theory: The Multiverse Was Born During Avengers: Endgame – and Gamora Proves It

MODOK Could Be the MCU’s Scariest Villain

A close up of M.O.D.O.K looking serious and angry

It’s also possible that the scariest part of Quantumania hasn’t even been officially revealed yet. Rumors abound that iconic Marvel Comics villain, the arrogant cybernetic genius MODOK, will make his live-action debut in the film. MODOK’s brain is so enlarged that he resembles a giant human head with arms and legs dangling from a metallic suit of armor. This look is disturbing enough on the page, but the MCU has always taken the most outlandish comic book characters and made them plausible in a 3D space. This means Quantumania‘s creative team will likely design a version of MODOK that forces audiences to think about the horror and tragedy of George Tarleton’s nightmarish transformation.

Ultimately, Multiverse of Madness and Werewolf by Night may be the MCU’s deepest explorations of the horror genre itself, but Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania has the potential to outdo them in terms of sheer creepiness. It’s unlikely the film will be so scary as to alienate younger fans or those who simply care more for heroes than horror. However, it’s good that the long-running series is still using themes and imagery that challenge audiences and stay in their minds long after the credits roll.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania creeps into theaters on Feb. 17, 2023.

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