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Ant-Man 3 Shouldn't Have Killed Kang (Hank Pym Should Have Died Instead)

Contains spoilers for "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania"

"Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" has a fairly high body count for a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, at least provided that you include CGI aliens and faceless henchmen. The PG-13 carnage Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) unleashes in the final act alone is bad enough that you fully expect a huge death scene, especially since the movie features no less than five major protagonists: Scott (Paul Rudd) and Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton), and the Pym-Van Dyne family of Hank (Michael Douglas), Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), and Hope (Evangeline Lilly).

Despite this, the biggest named characters who die are all villains or villain-adjacent characters. After playing the part of a Mechanical Organism Designed Only for Killing for much of the movie, the MODOK-ized Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) opts for a face turn after receiving a potty-mouthed pep talk from Cassie, and manages to breach Kang's defenses while receiving fatal injuries himself. Soon afterwards, Kang himself perishes after Hope unloads her sting weapons on the villain, causing the Conqueror to have a lethal rendezvous with the film's macguffin. As such, you can easily hand the film's two biggest L's to the bad guys.

It's frankly weird that the Ant-Man posse, of all people, manages to dispatch much-touted MCU big bad Kang so easily, hordes of variants waiting in the shadows or not. Doing away with both him and MODOK is even more egregious because there's a character that would have been a far more logical choice for the movie's big death scene. Despite this, Hank Pym inexplicably survives his third consecutive movie of playing the gruff elderly mentor to the main heroes. Here's why "Quantumania" should have been his final MCU film.

The movie telegraphs Hank's exit, but doesn't deliver

There's a lot going on in "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," but it's kind of hard to miss all the signs that point toward Hank Pym's demise. The movie's opening sequence confirms that Hank's daughter has become a business powerhouse who does more good than he ever could Meanwhile, Hank himself is basically just tinkering with ant experiments, and giving compliments to Cassie as she builds complex Quantum Realm exploration devices.

These are the actions of a man whose arc has ended. Hank has dealt with an unworthy successor, trained a worthy one, and fulfilled his life mission of rescuing his wife from the Quantum Realm. There are no more stories for him. He's retired from stories. This is his role in much of "Quantumania," as well. Apart from casually feeding Bill Murray to a supersized cocktail garnish, Hank's biggest contributions to the story are looking befuddled and piloting an airship with the most suspicious-looking control system known to man. 

And then, in the final act, he joins the fight at the last minute, delivering both a cool entrance and an army of highly advanced mega ants. The whole scene virtually reeks of a cool last stand, and the narrative basically screams for an errant energy beam from MODOK or Kang. This would have given Hank a hero's death, and energized the remaining heroes for the rest of the finale. 

Still, somehow, the movie refuses to explore this road, leaving Hank in limbo as a result. Sure, he survives, but has little logical role to play in the "Ant-Man" movie series. Cassie's showing signs of being a far superior scientist. Both Scott and Hope are better heroes, and "Quantumania" establishes Janet as the family's resident hardcore mentor figure. All of them seem familiar enough with Pym Particles, too, so there's zero reason to keep Hank around at this point. Yet, instead of getting a meaningful final moment and a graceful exit from the MCU, Hank Pym lives to awkwardly hang out in the basement for another day.