SPOILERS AHEAD for Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, as well as Avengers: Infinity War.
After the harrowing events of Avengers: Infinity War left Marvel fans (including myself) reeling, I was a little bit conflicted about how to feel about the impending release of Ant-Man and the Wasp. Do not get me wrong; I was excited for this film’s release, and was eagerly anticipating watching it as the weeks went by.
However, with the sucker-punch and shocking ending we received in the Russo brothers’ Infinity War, I will admit that I was left wondering how the second Ant-Man film was going to fit in with the franchise’s storyline, especially after the comment in Infinity War that Scott was sentenced to “house arrest” following his involvement in Captain America: Civil War, thereby explaining his absence from the third Avengers film.
The trailers for Ant-Man and the Wasp also deviated from the somber indications of Infinity War, adopting what appeared to be a humorous and up-beat plot where Scott teams up with Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and his former mentor Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglass) in more shrinking escapades.
So, what story was Ant-Man and the Wasp looking to tell?
Once again, I highly recommend turning back now if you do not wish to read spoilers for the plot of Ant-Man and the Wasp, as well as some possible spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War.
Ant-Man and the Wasp takes places two years after Captain America: Civil War, and focuses on the tail-end of Scott being under house-arrest. Just days away from completing his sentence, Scott has a dream in which he is introduced to Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) – Hope’s mother, Pym’s wife, and the original Wasp. It is revealed that Janet has been stuck in the Quantum Realm for 30 years, but until recently, there had been no hope for her survival, as Hope and Pym believed her dead. Scott’s dream, as well as his demonstrated ability to return from the Quantum Realm, refuels Pym and Hope’s determination in saving Janet. They retrieve Scott from his home – after placing an enlarged and programmed ant to imitate Scott’s daily routine – and bring him to Pym’s lab, where Scott encounters the incomplete Quantum Tunnel, the device Pym and Hope were working on as a gateway into the Quantum Realm.
Missing one crucial building-block for the Quantum Tunnel, Hope continues her undercover work of retrieving black-market technology from Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), a criminal tech-dealer who reveals that he knows that Hope and her father were building, and proposes that they either join together in business, or he’d take the technology for himself and unleash the FBI on them, seeing as how they were on the run from the government as well following CA: CW.
However, Burch is the least of the team’s problems. In the same sequence that introduced Burch, the true villain of this film is also revealed: Ghost, or Ava (Hannah John-Kamen), a human-slash-phantom who suffers from phasing through solid matter almost uncontrollably. Ghost’s goal is to take control of Pym’s lab and extract the Quantum energy that Janet was likely hosting, in an attempt to quell the agony her phasing was putting her in. Days away from an unimaginable death, and aided by Pym’s former partner Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne), Ghost proves herself to be a merciless opponent against Ant-Man and Wasp as she fights to take lab Quantum technology for herself.
Now on the run from Burch, Ghost, and the relentless FBI – headed by Jimmy Woo (Randall Parker) – Scott, Hope, and Pym must defend the Quantum technology in their hands, and work on saving Janet without getting caught and imprisoned.
Overall, I thought that Ant-Man and the Wasp was an extremely satisfying sequel, and a great addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Scott Lang, while the perceived superhero in this film, displays a wide range of shortcomings in his solo movie, from Scott’s suit constantly shorting out to awkward bits of dialogue, which makes the film not only amusing and fun, but realistic. On the whole, this movie shows how the best of intentions can have extreme consequences: Scott helping Captain America led to his house-arrest and probation, Scott trying to help his business from collapsing led to the FBI and Ghost finding out the heroes’ location, just to name a couple instances.
Scott’s journey throughout Ant-Man and the Wasp showed a man who kept trying – and sometimes failed – to help and do the right thing. This trait was amplified in the faith and love his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) proved to have for him, which only added to the warm feelings I was getting from this movie.
Also, while romance does bud between Hope and Scott, I didn’t believe it overwhelmed the scenes they appeared in together; it presented itself as a nice development simmering in the background of the larger scale of events.
By the film’s end, I was left grinning in my seat: Scott was cleared by the FBI to have his house-arrest sentence concluded, Pym and Hope were reunited with Janet, and even Ghost got a happy ending, once Janet had sensed her pain and alleviated it as best she could, using the healing properties she evolved during the decades spent in the Quantum Realm. It was a happy ending, finally!
… but then, it wasn’t.
The first post-credits scene (mid-credits, I should say) showed Scott suited up in his Ant-Man suit, ready to dive into the Quantum Realm. Hope, Janet, and Pym were gathered around him, explaining that he was to go to the Quantum Realm to retrieve some more healing components in order to further help Ghost, who they were on friendly terms with now. Scott proceeds to dive into the Realm, keeping in contact with the family on Earth via comm. His visit was meant to be brief, and once he collected the healing particles, Hope commences a countdown to extract him from the Realm when she was cut off by static.
Scott is left confused, calling out for the family, and the audience is left stunned as the scene shifts to Earth, and the three piles of ash in place of where Hope, Pym, and Janet used to be.
Fitting into the storyline of Infinity War, this is precisely when Thanos would have snapped his fingers, disintegrating half the universe into dust, as well as the hearts of many MCU fans. As candid and happy as Ant-Man and the Wasp was, there was no escaping Thanos, and we were all left shocked once more as Janet, Pym, and Hope became the latest on-screen victims to the Snap.
Even worse, Scott is left stranded in the Quantum Realm, with no knowledge of what has happened on Earth, and no way home.
The second post-credits scene is more silly than the previous scene, showing the programmed ant at Scott’s house, enthusiastically playing the drums that Scott would use to entertain himself during his house-arrest. In the background, however, you see the deserted and silent streets, and the television displaying an emergency broadcast system on the screen.
Both of these scenes – though the first one is certainly more relevant to the MCU’s plot – demonstrate the aftermath of what has happened in Infinity War, and now the world (as well as us, the movie-goers) are left confounded and floundering in the face of this event.
Prior to seeing this film, I did believe that Ant-Man and the Wasp would address Infinity War in some regard, but I did not expect to witness what I witnessed. The loss of Hope was gut-wrenching, and incredibly bewildering; I firmly believed that she would play a role in the fourth Avengers film next year, and her fate threw that belief right out the window. Not to mention the abrupt loss of Pym and Janet, especially once we literally just spent two hours watching the family fight to get Janet back, was painful.
As for Scott, stunned as I was by how he was left stranded in the Realm, I feel that in some way, he’s going to find a way to return back home; he did so without assistance in the first Ant-Man film, and while he may not remember exactly how he did it, there’s no reason to rule out that possibility.
Still, it’s going to be a long wait to find out what happens to these heroes.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is out in theaters now.