(Note: This post contains spoilers for the end of “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and “Avengers: Infinity War,” so proceed with caution!)
The world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was massively altered by “Avengers: Infinity War,” but how the situation with Thanos will be resolved in “Avengers 4” still isn’t clear. With “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” we might have a few more clues of what to expect in the next “Avengers,” though.
In “Infinity War,” Thanos (Josh Brolin) manages to gather all six super-powerful Infinity Stones and use them to enact his ultimate plan: Eliminate half the life in the universe. That caused a huge number of people to turn to dust — including heroes like Spider-Man, Black Panther, Doctor Strange and most of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp” doesn’t catch up to the events of the movie until its mid-credits scene. In it, we see Ant-Man, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), head back into the Quantum Realm to gather “healing particles” to help Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen). While he’s down there, everyone back in the real world and who’s there to help him — Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) are turned to dust by Thanos’ finger snap. Scott is seemingly trapped in the Quantum Realm with no way to get back.
That setup seems like it’ll lead Ant-Man directly into “Avengers 4,” with a few clues as to how he could potentially be a huge part of that movie and the ultimate solution to the Thanos problem. The Quantum Realm could hold several possibilities, including a connection with the Soul Stone, and even time travel. And these are our guesses about what the future will hold based on that “Ant-Man and the Wasp” cliffhanger.
A Soul Stone connection
We don’t know all the ins and outs of the Soul Stone yet, but we can make a few guesses based on the stone’s properties in the Marvel comics universe. In the “Infinity Gauntlet” comics on which “Infinity War” is based, the Soul Stone actually absorbs and houses the souls of the people “killed” by it — so everyone dusted by Thanos is presumably actually still alive in the Soul Realm inside the stone. Basically, the stone makes up its own separate universe or alternate small dimension.
We see some evidence of this in “Infinity War,” when, after the big snap, Thanos briefly finds himself in the orange-tinted Soul Realm, where he speaks with a younger version of Gamora (Zoe Saldana). If the movies are like the comics, then that really is Gamora’s soul, trapped in the Soul Stone thanks to Thanos’ actions.
The Quantum Realm also seems to represent a universe or dimension unto itself, with its own set of rules — as opposed to simply being just a really tiny aspect of our universe. It seems very possible that the Quantum Realm may contain a link to the Soul Realm, a path through which Ant-Man can re-establish contact with the heroes who’ve disappeared from the rest of the universe. In the comics, characters in the Soul Realm are part of the fight against Thanos, so having a way to contact and interact with them could be the turning point in the story of “Avengers 4.”
Going back in time
Right before Scott goes into the tunnel to the Quantum Realm, Janet warns him about stuff he should avoid within it. One of the things she pointedly mentions: time vortexes.
We don’t know much about whatever Janet is referring to by “time vortex,” but that sure sounds like an anomaly that could affect not only Scott’s perception of time, but where he ends up in the timeline should he be sucked into one. We’ve been told before that “time and space” work differently in the Quantum Realm. And quantum physics have their own implications in real-life discussions of potential time travel. In general, the Quantum Realm carries a lot of possibilities as far as the potential for Scott, and maybe other characters, to go back in time to warn the Avengers about Thanos.
The “time vortex” line is a particularly big potential clue. It could just be a throwaway line on Janet’s part to tell us, the audience, that there’s a lot of weird stuff down there in the Quantum Realm. But it also could be Marvel suggesting that Janet has experienced the effects of a time vortex, and that’s how she knows about them. Really, one has to wonder how Janet would even know what weird thing in the Quantum Realm is a time vortex unless she’d seen one in action or fallen into one herself, since so much of the Quantum Realm just looks like trippy weirdness.
If Janet did fall into a time vortex, it might explain how she managed to spend 30 years down in the Quantum Realm and survive (because seriously, what did she eat down there). We also know that Janet is in “Avengers 4,” so the possibility that, beyond just the expectation that she and everyone else turned to dust will return, she traveled through time and interacted with the past is definitely out there.
Ant-Man and the Captain (Marvel)
Ant-Man experiencing some time travel would fit nicely with what we know about the next two Marvel Cinematic Universe movies: “Avengers 4,” and, before that, “Captain Marvel.” IMDb listings — which, we should note, are not always reliable — for “Avengers 4” list characters like “1970s Scientist,” which have given fans the theory that it might have some time travel involved, and paparazzi photos from the set seemed to show characters like the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) popping up during the Battle of New York from “The Avengers.”
“Captain Marvel” also has a tie to the past: it takes place in the 1990s, years before the Avengers appeared on the scene. From what we know about the movie, it seems like the titular Captain (Brie Larson) has a very big link to Thanos thanks to Mar-Vell (Jude Law), an alien superhero who winds up on Earth during the movie. Mar-Vell is an old enemy of Thanos, so he could not only give Larson’s character, Carol Danvers, her powers, but also impart on her some knowledge about how to deal with Thanos.
Ant-Man zapping through time thanks to the Quantum Realm could be the big connection between “Captain Marvel” and “Avengers 4.” We know Captain Marvel will factor into the final battle with Thanos thanks to the post-credits scene in “Infinity War,” in which the final act of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is to contact Danvers with a modified pager before he disappears from existence. Time travel could easily be a part of all these stories, and what’s more, the reason that “Ant-Man and the Wasp” had to be released after “Infinity War” but before “Avengers 4.”
“Avengers: Infinity War” changed everything for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and we have some ideas about how “Ant-Man and the Wasp” could be setting up “Avengers 4.” Click here for an explanation of that mid-credits scene and what a “time vortex” might be all about. Read this for some ways Ant-Man’s potential time travel adventures could impact both of next year’s big MCU films. Check out our speculation on how Ant-Man could pop up in “Captain Marvel.” And click here for a chat with director Peyton Reed into the role the Quantum Realm might continue to play in the greater MCU. There are also quite a few lingering questions from “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” which we explore here.