(MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD for the ending of “Avengers: Infinity War.” So if you don’t know how it ends and don’t want to know, leave now. Like just bail. Go go go.)
Two primary Avengers characters are missing from “Avengers: Infinity War”: Clinton Barton, also known as Hawkeye, and Scott Lang, also known as Ant-Man.
That second character is an interesting omission, specifically because Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) will star in one of the two Marvel Cinematic Universe movies taking place in between “Infinity War” and “Avengers 4” — the other being next year’s “Captain Marvel.” We knew both movies take place before the events of “Infinity War” — the official “Ant-Man and the Wasp” plot summary very conspicuously notes that it takes place “In the aftermath of ‘Captain America: Civil War.’ ” We believe at least some of the events of the “Ant-Man” sequel are going to take place during the events of “Infinity War,” thanks to a new teaser video. Another trailer released during the World Cup teases fans by joking about the relationship between “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and “Infinity War.”
Though those teases are certainly intended to be funny, they still heavily suggests “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is going to have a major influence on the resolution of the Thanos situation in “Avengers 4,” at last in some form.
And, in a new featurette, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige promises that the film “connects directly to ‘Avengers 4,’ ” so that settles that.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp,” which is out at the beginning of July, takes place in San Francisco, away from the major action of “Infinity War” in New York, Scotland and Wakanda, and leaving Scott and Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), also known as the Wasp, free to do their own thing. We have some sense of what that might be: First, we know from casting information that the plot of the film will concern the search for the original Wasp, Janet van Dyne, who will be played by Michelle Pfeiffer. Fans will recall that in “Ant-Man,” Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) told the story about how Janet was lost in the “Quantum Realm” — the space between molecules. In order to stop a missile from hitting the U.S., Janet removed the regulator from her suit, which put a limit on how small she would shrink, and became so small she was able to fit between the molecules of the missile.
Janet disarmed the missile, but without her regulator she was unable to return to her normal size. As Pym explained it, she was lost in the Quantum Realm, shrinking forever and unable to escape that strange, tiny universe. But Scott managed to shrink down to the Quantum Realm during the climax of “Ant-Man,” and proved it was possible to return from it. And with Pfeiffer cast as a present day Janet, it seems she’ll be returning from there too.
With the knowledge that “Ant-Man and the Wasp” will show us Scott and Hope’s whereabouts during “Infinity War,” it’s clear that the story will factor into the larger MCU storyline. The guess that makes the most sense is that, since the Quantum Realm will obviously be a big part of the story, it likely factors into the Thanos situation as well. That’s because, while Marvel Studios keeps teasing the link between “Ant-Man” and “Infinity War,” none of the marketing has shown anything from “Ant-Man and the Wasp” that would even hint at being actually related to the Thanos situation.
That’s likely a move to avoid spoilers, but we can read into it some — particularly because we also haven’t seen anything about Janet van Dyne in the marketing, even though it’s been well-known for some time that Pfeiffer was taking on that role in “Ant-Man” and that she would appear in “Avengers 4” as well. There’s some reason that Marvel is holding back on Janet van Dyne in trailers and marketing material, and it probably has to do with the Quantum Realm and, possibly, “Infinity War.”
We can speculate that there’s more to the Quantum Realm than what we’ve seen before or what Hank Pym knows about it, having never been there. Likely, we’ll learn something new about the place, and what Janet found out while she was there — and that’s probably going to be extremely relevant to finding a new way to deal with Thanos.
There’s no way to know exactly what the Quantum Realm might entail in terms of Thanos and the Infinity Stones — what we saw of it in “Ant-Man” and how Hank Pym described it did not resemble the “Microverse” of the comics, which is basically just another world, but tiny. In the movie, the Quantum Realm looked like one of the trippy alternate dimensions from “Doctor Strange,” and Pym described it as a place where time has no meaning. Now, that Purgatory-esque description combined with the situation with all those dead Avengers at the end of “Infinity War” makes us think that maybe, just maybe, the Quantum Realm could have some kind of connection to the Soul Stone.
In the Marvel comics, the Soul Stone traps souls inside it, which can be accessed by whoever has it, along with those souls’ abilities. We saw Thanos venture into that world briefly in “Infinity War,” where he talked to young Gamora. Maybe the Quantum Realm could provide another means by which to access the world of the Soul Stone.
This would be a big deal because it is entirely possible that everyone Thanos killed with his finger snap at the end of “Infinity War” now lives inside the Soul Stone. The deeper ramifications of that are a discussion for another day, but suffice to say if this line of thinking is correct then it could make these heroes in “Ant-Man and the Wasp” as crucial to this battle as anyone who actually appeared in “Infinity War.”
There’s also a potential wild card in the movie in the form of Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), who has the ability to go “intangible.” What that could mean, if anything, in the context of “Infinity War” is anyone’s guess — it sounds similar to the Vision’s ability to “phase” through solid matter. It could be that Ghost’s technology is an essential ingredient in getting to the Quantum Realm and rescuing Janet, which is what brings her into conflict with Ant-Man and the Wasp to begin with — and that the tech is important in some other, unexpected ways.
That technology might also present a weapon to use against Thanos, or some protection against the power of the Infinity Stones. We know that, in a way similar to how Ant-Man can make objects grow or shrink, Ghost can use her power to make objects intangible (although not people). The capability of making stuff intangible, like maybe a shelter full of people, might provide a loophole for escaping Thanos’ means of making people cease to exist.
Speaking of which, we have more ideas about what’s to come — at least in regards to how “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and “Captain Marvel” will impact the story being told between “Infinity War” and “Avengers 4,” as well as how some other plot threads from “Infinity War” will play out. You just read our “Ant-Man and the Wasp” discussion so you’re good on that front. Click here for our deeper look into how “Captain Marvel” might impact this distressing plot twist. Click here for a closer examination of Doctor Strange’s actions in “Infinity War,” and how losing this fight might end up being the key to winning it later. Click here for our discussion of the whole Vision situation and whether he’s really dead. And, finally, here’s our run-down on how the comic book version of these events played out.