"Avengers: Infinity War" had the mother of all Marvel cliffhangers. Not to be outdone, "Ant-Man and the Wasp" (in theaters now) also decided to leave its audience shaken heading into next year's "Avengers 4."
The new sequel’s superheroes — the returning Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and debuting Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) — were MIA from the events of "Infinity War," which featured a finale where cosmic supervillain Thanos (Josh Brolin) wiped out half of existence (and half our favorite good guys) with one snap of his mighty Infinity Gauntlet. "Ant-Man and the Wasp" begins before all that happens, yet for any Marvel fan sitting through the fun-loving, lighthearted adventure, it’s only a matter of time before things catch up and get very dark.
At least they wait until the end credits to shove the fun aside.
SPOILER ALERT! We're discussing plot points integral to the end of "Ant-Man and the Wasp," so beware if you haven’t seen it yet.
THIS IS YOUR FINAL WARNING.
After Ant-Man and Wasp save the day and inventor Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) rescues his wife/Wasp’s mom, Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), after decades of being stuck in the subatomic Quantum Realm, the first end-credits scene finds the four on a rooftop. Ant-Man is getting ready to head back to the Quantum Realm to snag some quantum energy for their new friend (and former foe) Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen). Janet was able to alleviate Ghost’s quantum affliction upon her return, but it seems the one-time antagonist still needs a healing boost now and again.
Ant-Man is sent into the vast weirdness, communicating with his team back home, and after filling a quantum container and getting ready for re-entry, he hears a crackle on his communicator, asking if everything’s OK. When the camera shifts back to the rooftop, there's dust where Wasp, Hank and Janet just were — they’re the latest casualties of the event that has also taken the lives of Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), among others. Maybe not as bad but still quite unfortunate is Ant-Man’s current plight, stuck in a trippy dimension with seemingly no way to return.
“Structurally, we thought that was really fun to end all our ("Ant-Man" movies) in a really 'up' fashion and tie it up in a neat little bow, and then to maybe pull the rug out from under the audience a little bit. That appealed to us,” director Peyton Reed tells USA TODAY.
You have to wait till the very last credit for the second scene: In Ant-Man’s San Francisco home, a TV is on with an Emergency Alert System message — hinting the whole world’s gone kablooey, post-snap — before the camera pans over and shows a human-size ant playing drums, unaware of the disaster that’s afoot.
Although Marvel trolls us a little with the message “Ant-Man and the Wasp will return?” we do know that both characters will (somehow) be in "Avengers 4." Wasp’s fate seems to be connected to the rest of the missing heroes. While that large aforementioned ant may not be the greatest help for Ant-Man, there are other smart folks around. Ghost and her father figure, Pym’s former partner Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne), will probably notice when no one comes back with any quantum juice — they have the know-how to figure out the equipment to retrieve the shrinking hero from the Quantum Realm. (Assuming that those two haven't been snapped away as well.)
One other thing to note: Janet at one point warns that Ant-Man should try to avoid time vortexes in the Quantum Realm, otherwise "we won't be able to save you." We know that "Captain Marvel" (in theaters March 8) takes place in the 1990s and Brie Larson's superheroine presumably will have to get to present day since she's in "Avengers 4" (out May 3), too — so maybe there's a "Back to the Future" situation where a time vortex brings her together with Ant-Man?
You only have to wait 10 months to find out!