A breakdown of what happens and how it could tie into 'Avengers 4'
Warning: This article contains spoilers from Ant-Man and the Wasp. Read on at your own risk.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is the third Marvel Cinematic Universe film to be released in 2018. Amidst that crowded field, Peyton Reed’s new sequel distinguishes itself with much lower stakes than its contemporaries. Black Panther introduced the African utopia of Wakanda and featured an intense battle over what it could mean to the rest of the world, while Avengers: Infinity War brought together nearly every MCU character and ended with half of them vanishing courtesy of Thanos. Ant-Man and the Wasp, by contrast, focuses on the simple quest to save some lives. Protagonists Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) are on a quest to save long-lost matriarch Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the depths of the quantum realm, while the villainous Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) really only wants to save her own life, which was thrown out of sync by a childhood accident with the quantum realm. While there are frequent references to the events of Captain America: Civil War (with Scott still facing severe legal penalties for helping the anti-registration team then), Infinity War viewers know that Scott does not appear in that movie, and so no reference is made to its devastating ending.
Until the post-credits scene, that is.
At first, the movie seems to wrap up nicely for everyone. Janet has been saved, and uses her knowledge of the quantum realm to help Ghost. Ghost has long sought a way to stabilize her constantly-phasing body, and Janet proves that the answer lies in the healing powers of quantum energy. So the post-credits scene finds Janet, Hank, and Hope running a miniature quantum tunnel on a rooftop somewhere, so that Scott can go in and collect more energy for Ghost. The eternally arrogant Hank can hardly believe that he went from being a world-renowned scientist with his name on buildings to a refugee hiding out on rooftops, but Janet assures him their operation has enough flair to make up for it. Having spent decades in the quantum realm, she gives Scott advice about how to navigate the terrain and which terrors to avoid in there.
So, down goes Scott. He fakes out his friends at first by taking a few seconds to respond on the comms; once he does respond with his trademark silliness, they all roll their eyes at him. Despite Janet’s warnings about dangers, he’s able to find what he needs relatively quickly, and soon has more quantum energy bottled up for Ghost. He tells his friends to pull him out…but this time, there’s only static. As Scott flounders in the quantum realm, we leave him to take a look at the rooftop he just left. Janet, Hank, and Hope are now nowhere to be seen. All that remains in their place is just a bunch of disintegrating dust. That’s right — Scott was in the quantum realm when Thanos snapped his Infinity Gauntlet-wielding fingers to kill half the population of the universe, and the Pym/Van Dyne family members were all included in the unlucky half.
In the wake of Infinity War, EW’s Anthony Breznican speculated that the missing heroes like Ant-Man and Wasp could play an important role in defeating Thanos. We now know Wasp is out of action until someone reverses the effects of the finger snap, and Ant-Man’s not doing much better trapped down in the quantum realm with no way easy out. He might be able to get out the way he did last time, by focusing on his love for his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), but her fate is as yet unknown. In fact, maybe being in the quantum realm is what protected Scott from the Infinity Gauntlet. Can he still help from down there? Only next year’s still-untitled Avengers 4 will tell us for certain.
There’s also a second, much more lighthearted post-credits scene for Ant-Man and the Wasp. It features a slow pan around Scott Lang’s house. There’s nothing but atonal feedback from the TV, and in fact the whole place is almost entirely silent…except, that is, for the ant playing drums. Earlier in the movie, Scott and Hope had super-sized an ant to hold his ankle monitor while Ant-Man helped out his friends in defiance of the Sokovia Accords. Looks like that ant’s still doing fine in the wake of the Infinity Gauntlet, but it’s hard to say the same for everyone else. The post-credits scene from Infinity War featured the effects of Thanos’ snap wreaking havoc in the streets of New York City, and now it seems like they’ve been quite destabilizing to the media and the world at large. It’ll be interesting to see what state the world’s in when we pick up with Avengers 4.