Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania has one of the MCU’s worst Rotten Tomatoes scores, so what does that predict about the Rotten Tomatoes scores of Phase 5? The MCU had a flawless record in Rotten Tomatoes until Eternals became the first film to earn a Rotten score, and now Ant-Man and the wasp: Quantumania is the second Rotten movie in the franchise. Is this a trend that could impact other movies in Phase 5?
The MCU became the gold standard in Rotten Tomatoes after stringing together 25 consecutive Fresh scores. Releasing over two dozen films in barely more than a decade was impressive enough, but a perfect record in rated Fresh in Rotten Tomatoes was even more impressive than Pixar’s Rotten Tomatoes record. Unfortunately, while the first 25 movies in the franchise were Fresh, two of the next six releases were Rotten. Since Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania introduces the MCU’s next big bad, Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) and kicks off Phase 5 of the MCU, should its Rotten Tomatoes score be a bad sign for the rest of Phase 5?
The MCU’s Rotten Tomatoes Scores Are Trending Downward
Despite the MCU’s nearly perfect record in Rotten Tomatoes, its average review score has been going down for some time. The franchise average trended upwards through each phase, peaking at 85 percent with Spider-Man: Far From Home, but it’s trended downwards since then, falling to 81 percent with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. With so many Fresh releases, the MCU’s Rotten Tomatoes average held steady for a while, but with multiple lower-scoring Fresh movies like Thor: Love and Thunder at 64 percent and multiple Rotten movies with Eternals and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania the score is trending down.
The MCU’s Rotten Tomatoes audience score is a slightly different situation. The audience score trended upwards until it peaked after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, reaching an overall average of 83 percent at its highest point. Since then, the MCU’s audience score average in Rotten Tomatoes has dropped to 82 percent. Dividing the average up by phases makes the decline slightly more clear. Phase 1’s average audience score was 79 percent, Phase 2’s average audience score was 84 percent, Phase 3’s average audience score was 83 percent, and Phase 4’s average audience score was 81 percent.
The MCU’s Critic/Audience Divide Is Growing With Each Phase
Critics and audiences loved the first two Phases of the MCU, but there’s been a growing divide between critics scores and audience scores in Rotten Tomatoes. Audience and critic scores across the entire MCU are split by an average of seven points. Phase 1’s average division between audience and critic scores in Rotten Tomatoes was just two points of division, Phase 2 saw the average split grow to four percent, Phase 3’s split grew to an average split of 9 points, and Phase 4 saw the peak division between audiences and critics in Rotten Tomatoes with an average of 11 points.
While the MCU is seeing both audience scores and critic scores trend downward in Rotten Tomatoes, the growing division is a result of critic scores falling more severely than the audience score. Despite a reputation for playing it safe and following the “Marvel formula,” the movies are actually resulting in a more polarized reaction between critics and audiences. Granted, Rotten Tomatoes is a measurement of audience and critic sentiment, so it’s not clear if this means the movies themselves are becoming more polarizing or if it represents a shift in audience and critic desires, but the fact of the matter is the scores are both decreasing and seeing more separation.
Ant-Man And The Wasp Continues The MCU’s Worst Rotten Tomatoes Trends
As the first movie of Phase 5 of the MCU, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a microcosm of all of these larger MCU Rotten Tomatoes problems. Its 48 percent “Rotten” score in Rotten Tomatoes is only the second time any MCU movie hasn’t earned a “Fresh” score and it also has the MCU’s biggest gap between the critic and audience scores with 35 points of separation, well above the 7 point average and more than three times the 11 points average from Phase 4.
The fact that this behavior was already an MCU Rotten Tomatoes trend before Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania makes behavior score especially interesting and could be seen as a prediction of similar trends in the rest of Phase 5. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania being the most extreme example of this separation between critics and audiences means the rest of Phase 5 won’t necessarily be so extreme, but it doesn’t give any hope that the MCU is about to drastically reverse its course in Rotten Tomatoes and return to a stronger shared sentiment between critics and audiences as the franchise experienced in Phase 1.
One interpretation of these numbers is that critics and audience tend to agree the most on the core Avengers characters and disagree when the franchise introduces new characters and teams. Since Phase 5 includes multiple sequels to some of the MCU’s biggest movies, that trend could improve. Granted, Captain Marvel is the second-highest critic/audience split in the MCU after Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, so The Marvels could follow that same trend, although that’s not necessarily going to be the case. Prior to Captain Marvel, Black Panther was the biggest critic/audience split, yet Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has lowest split in Phase 4.
So, while the MCU’s Rotten Tomatoes scores have been trending in a negative direction, particularly with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the factors influencing those trends don’t seem as prominent in the upcoming MCU slate for Phase 5. It’s entirely possible the MCU’s average Rotten Tomatoes score could keep falling and the divide between critics and audiences will keep growing, but it’s not likely to be as extreme as with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Of course, all reviews are subjective, so the Rotten Tomatoes scores shouldn’t influence anyone’s enjoyment of a film, although it will be curious to see if critics and audiences continue to disagree on the MCU’s future.