(Note: this is a spoiler-lite discussion of how “Ant-Man and the Wasp” could be important to the current events of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For a more detailed and spoiler-filled version of this discussion, including how it could play directly into the shocking ending of “Avengers: Infinity War,” click here)
Ant-Man might not technically be an Avenger, but he’s definitely Avengers-adjacent thanks to his turn in “Captain America: Civil War,” in which he helped Cap, Falcon and Hawkeye fight off the likes of Iron Man, Black Widow, War Machine and Vision.
Fans expected Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), better known as Ant-Man, to make an appearance to help fight Thanos (Josh Brolin) and protect the Infinity Stones. But he doesn’t show up in “Avengers: Infinity War,” getting only a brief mention of how he’s under house arrest after the big showdown in “Captain America: Civil War.”
We now know for sure that the whereabouts of Ant-Man and Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), also known as the Wasp, during “Infinity War” will be explained in “Ant-Man and the Wasp” when it hits theaters in July. That means the movie for sure takes place during “Infinity War”; it’s set in San Francisco, away from the major action of “Infinity War,” which leaves Scott and Hope to get up to their own adventure while everyone else was fighting Thanos. Both Ant-Man and the Wasp are slated to show up in “Avengers 4,” so this solidifies that their exploits are going to be a factor in the conclusion of the Thanos story.
In “Infinity War,” Ant-Man’s whereabouts only get briefly speculated on as the Avengers consider who they could call for help against Thanos. “Civil War” ended with everyone who backed Captain America (Chris Evans) getting locked up on “The Raft,” a floating prison for enhanced people commissioned by U.S. Secretary of State Gen. Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt). After the Sokovia Accords were signed, Cap technically broke the law by going out on his own to stop Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl), and everyone who helped him was guilty as well. At the end of the movie, Cap broke Ant-Man, Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Falcon (Anthony Mackey) out of the Raft. Most of those people became fugitives.
Ant-Man and Hawkeye, though, had families back home and couldn’t go on the lam as superheroes. Instead, they took plea deals that recognized their service, confining them to house arrest rather than imprisonment. Because of that, Cap and the gang never call Ant-Man (or Hawkeye) in to help with the Thanos situation.
We know a little about what to expect from the second “Ant-Man” movie that might give clues as to what to expect from Ant-Man’s role in the Thanos conflict. First off, Michelle Pfeiffer will play Janet van Dyne, the original Wasp and wife of original Ant-Man Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), who was lost 25 years ago in the “Quantum Realm.” That’s the space between molecules and atoms, so small that it’s like a whole other universe.
Janet previously entered the Quantum Realm to stop a missile, but was unable to return to her normal size and was lost there, and Hank believed she was dead. After Scott managed to go to the Quantum Realm and then return, though, it seems there’s hope for Janet as well.
Given the positioning of “Ant-Man and the Wasp” on our real world calendar between “Infinity War” and “Avengers 4,” Janet and her experience with the Quantum Realm will almost definitely be a factor in the continuing battle against Thanos. It seems likely her experiences there will have helped her gain some information or insight that Ant-Man the rest of the heroes can then use against the Mad Titan — we just don’t know what that information might be.
So the real reason Ant-Man is held back from “Infinity War,” it would seem, is so that he can come back with something useful after “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” We should have some idea of what that might be later this summer when the second “Ant-Man” movie hits theaters, but we’ll have to wait until 2019 to see Ant-Man help take on Thanos.