The MCU has a problem. When it started out, it was just Iron Man, doing his thing. Then Nick Fury came onto the scene, and a cinematic universe was born. Government agencies, decade-long conspiracies, Norse gods from outer space. What started off as one hero fighting to make amends for his own violent history has turned into a sprawling behemoth. By Age of Ultron, the Avengers were trying to stop a genocidal robot from literally wiping out most human life on Earth. With Infinity War on the horizon, plus the Guardians of the Galaxy’s integration into the wider MCU, the stakes are primed to climb to ever more (pardon the pun) astronomical heights.
As more and more films are added to the MCU, the world expands. That’s normal, and it’s not bad. But when no major characters are allowed to die (saving Quicksilver, introduced approximately two hours before he was offed), and when nothing too bad is allowed to happen without the main characters swooping in and mopping it up, stuff starts to get a little… cartoony. A bit less emotionally grounded. I’m not saying pull a Warner Bros. and go all “gritty,” but I do think Marvel’s continuing insistence on “bigger is better”—as seen in the gazillion-plotline, “we have to set up five different movies” mess that was Ultron, and potentially in the absolutely massive Civil War cast list—could really hamstring Marvel in the future, in terms of quality, if not box office gross.
All that is to say: God bless Ant-Man.