It’s been Marvel’s year so far in 2018, with Black Panther lighting up the domestic box office and Avengers: Infinity War breaking box-office records on its way to over $2B in worldwide receipts. On the heels of those, Marvel’s tiny — relatively and literally — duo of Ant-Man and the Wasp might not seem worthy of our attention.
Briefly, my thoughts on the movie: Ant-Man and the Wasp is what you’d expect from the sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man: a lighter, funnier MCU outing with lots of laughs and almost as much heart. What it lacks in dramatic heft and cataclysmic smackdowns, it more than makes up for with great chemistry, brisk pacing, and Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp, who has the honor of being the first female superhero to ever headline (or co-headline) an MCU movie. Of course, she’ll have more company next year, when we get Captain Marvel. But we should celebrate victories for representation no matter what size they are.
And then, there’s that mid-credits scene. Guard yourself for spoilers:
Into the Quantum Realm
The bulk of Ant-Man and the Wasp focuses on Dr. Hank Pym’s (Michael Douglas) efforts to bring back his long-lost wife, Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer, in what essentially amounts to a cameo), back from the Quantum Realm: an infinite sub-universe that’s mostly beyond human understanding. Pym gets help from his daughter Hope van Dyne aka Wasp, and Scott Lang aka Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), allowing Janet to get back home.
Getting to the Quantum Realm requires using a tunnel which Pym’s designed. After the movie proper, during a mid-credits scene, we see Pym, Hope, and Janet testing a smaller version of this tunnel that can fit inside Luis’ (Michael Peña) beloved van. Scott is the test subject and can successfully enter the Quantum Realm. However, he’s dependent on the others to bring him back. So there’s trouble when he finds them unresponsive over the radio. We then see that Pym, Hope, and Janet have all disappeared from existence into a cloud of ash.
Thanos has snapped his fingers, and just like that, Scott is left stranded in the Quantum Realm.
So what does this mean for the MCU going forward? Educated guesses have abounded that Avengers 4 will rely heavily on the Quantum Realm. Either it’ll be used to bring back the heroes we lost at the end of Infinity War, find a way to recollect the Infinity Stones to defeat Thanos, or perhaps some combination of both. While it’s still unclear exactly how the Quantum Realm will aid the Avengers the next time we see them, we do now know that they’ll run into a friend if they do ever go down there.
However, Pym and Janet are the only other two people ever to visit the Quantum Realm and return, at least that we know. With them wiped out by Thanos’ snap, it stands to reason that Scott has no way out unless someone comes and finds him. If somehow, the Avengers don’t make use of the Quantum Realm next year, we may not be seeing Ant-Man again for a while.
It also continues one of the bigger surprises from Infinity War: The newer heroes are the least safe from Thanos’ random genocide. The prevailing thought before Infinity War is that the older heroes — Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, etc. — would be the ones eliminated, thereby paving the way for the newer ones to take over. Again, that turns out to not be the case, as Ant-Man survives while Wasp is eliminated (at least for now, we hope).
Another interesting question is: did Scott survive because of blind luck, or because he was in the Quantum Realm? If the Quantum Realm can supersede Thanos and the Infinity Stones, it brings up a lot of exciting possibilities for what we may see in Avengers 4. And, for that matter, what we may see in Captain Marvel; at the end of Infinity War‘s credits, Nick Fury seemed pretty damn confident that his pager’s distress beacon would work no matter what.
In any case, Ant-Man and the Wasp provides more questions than answers, but the MCU deserves credit for somehow giving fans exactly what they expected while subverting expectations enough to leave us genuinely surprised. What the future holds for the MCU, only Mr. Feige knows. But the MCU’s latest addition provides exciting food for thought.
Oh, and it confirms that Avengers 4 will be called Quantum Realm of Solace.