Once More, with Ant Man. Why him, and why now?

ant man in the quantum realm
Wait. What? Where did everybody go?

With Ant Man & The Wasp now released on DVD and Blu-Ray, people are struck again with how this movie might tie in with the greater Marvel oeuvre, and wonder anew why the light-weight Ant Man 2 arrived so closely after the heavy ending of Infinity War.

— Spoilers ahead for Avengers Infinity War and Ant Man & The Wasp —

Here’s a roundup of some intriguing articles addressing Ant Man, the Quantum Realm, and some conjecture about how to undo The Snap:

Do you have any thoughts on how things could wrap up for Avengers 4, coming out next summer? At least we’ve got time to puzzle, conjecture, and, yes,  re-watch the 20 previous movies for scraps of clues. Feel free to comment below with your ideas. I promise to respond.

MCU Trailer News: 

First Captain Marvel Trailer Finally Drops

Avengers 4 Trailer Hints and Rumors

10 Ways Ant Man Could Escape the Quantum Realm

“Hey guys! Guys? This isn’t funny anymore!”

Spoilers for Infinity War, and of course Ant Man & the Wasp…don’t bother reading if you haven’t seen those two movies. This will all be gibberish to you anyway if you’re not up to date. Onward…

So, that ending in Ant Man 2. It’s nice that Scott Lang finally has a superhero partner, and an ad-hoc family…but with Hank, Hope, and Janet suddenly Snapped away by Thanos, how’s he going to get out of the Quantum Realm? Is he stuck there now, for decades (or possibly forever), just like Janet Van Dyne before Ant Man 1?

Well…doubtful. That’s not how Marvel works. And there’s probably a darn good reason there was a fluffy Ant Man movie right after the seriously universe-changing and dire events of Infinity War. I assume something about the Quantum Realm (the QR) will be crucial to undoing the victims of the Snapocalypse…or why this superhero again, and why now?

Previously, the first Ant Man movie was a light, comedic pallet-cleanser after the serious events of Captain America: Civil War. This could be the same kind of thing going on…but I tend to doubt it’s just that. Ant Man isn’t that big a crowd draw, not after such momentous and box-office pleasing films of late, like Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War. In fact, AM&TW is the only late-phase MCU film to earn the kind of paltry box office amounts we’ve seen since the original Phase One movies (check the Wikipedia). [pullquote]Nobody’s been begging for another Ant Man film.[/pullquote]

At the time, I was also curious why we had to “start over” with such newer origin properties like Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, and Black Panther, after taking so much time carefully setting up ensemble-cast driven stories in the main story arc. Especially since Spiderman and Black Panther, as part of Civil War, didn’t even need stand-alone films. Post Infinity War, it all makes sense now. And we’re getting yet ANOTHER origin story movie in Captain Marvel, coming out in March of 2019 (with that Infinity War post credits scene, we can even guess why).

[pullquote position=”right”]It keeps circling back to why Ant Man again, and why now. With half of all life forms now turned to ash, fans have to assume the 4th Avengers film will be about rectifying this catastrophe.[/pullquote]

Dr. Strange saw ONE lifetime in over 14 million that led to our heroes winning. If the QR is vitally important, then so is an Ant Man story. We’ve talked about this before on RunPee.com. It’s also quite possible Scott was protected by the QR from the Snap itself. So — moving on — how will Scott get back?

Here are some reasonable ideas: (Note: lacking evidence otherwise, I’m going to assume anyone we haven’t seen dusted is still around.) (Note the Second: I haven’t consulted any of the comic books, so this is all conjecture based on the 20 MCU films.)

1. Luis. He’s in the front of the van housing the Quantum Tunnel. It might be as easy as him flicking a ‘retrieve’ switch. That would set the cliffhanger to a speedy (if not hugely satisfying) solution, so we can get on with the rest of the Avengers 4 and their immense cast.

2. Luis drives the van to someone else who can help. Bill Foster and/or Ghost know exactly what to do with a Quantum Tunnel. (Plus, using them here would justify the somewhat pointless inclusion of them in a movie already over-packed with characters and plot dynamics.)

3. Scott gets himself out. Option One: he did it before on his own. He can futz with his regulator and “quantum-leap” himself back to normal space/time.

4. Scott gets himself out. Option Two: Janet made an obvious point of mentioning Time Vortices in the QR, and told Scott to avoid them. Why mention these for no good reason, so suddenly at the end of the film? Sounds like a major foreshadowing hint. We have no idea what a time vortex can do, but perhaps they act like wormholes to bring Scott back…although, to when and where is uncertain. This could lead to a time-travel element in Avengers 4.

5. Scott gets himself out. Option Three: Janet’s been in his head for a few years now by the current space/time, but by QR standards, she is likely always still there, essentially possessing him. Either she, or her remnant, or just the ‘quantum memory’ will help him find a way out.

6. Dr. Strange did something — yes, he’s ash. But he’s also a master of the mystic arts and previously Wielder of the Time Stone. Since he is essentially disjointed from normal time, he could be/have been/will be/will have been doing something magically to get Scott back. (Someday we’ll work out the right grammar for time  travel paradoxing.) Perhaps the QR even kept Scott safe during the Snap, and that too was part of the plan.

7. See above, but insert Wong. He’s as skilled as Strange, and guarding the NY temple. He could be asked to help, maybe by Luis. I’m placing a lot on Luis here, aren’t I? Or maybe Wong grasps the situation from his own mystical meditations.

8. Cassie might have a role. It’s nearly impossible to avoid spoilers about future films unless you avoid the entire internet, but I’ll be vague: I’ve heard Scott’s little girl won’t always be so little, and might have a more intense role to play. Plus, she’s a determined and smart young person in her own right.

9. Captain Marvel might just take care of this herself, after getting Nick Fury’s page…

10. The Cosmic stuff. There’s a lot of things in space that could send a message to interstellar travelers like the Guardians/Revengers/Ravagers/Giant Dwarves, etc…or to gods like Thor, or strongly powered unaligned aliens we haven’t met yet, or even randoms like The Collector and The Grandmaster. Or the hinted at with “Adam” from the post-credits Sovereign scene in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. Or even a semi-conscious pull from the Infinity Stones — say, the Soul Stone — to bring “balance to the Force.” [pullquote]Yes, I’m lumping nearly everything weird in this category.[/pullquote]  Call it a ‘catch-all’ option for a wild universe of infinite, interdimensional possibilities.

What theory do you like? Have one of your own?

NOTE: If you’ve seen Avengers: Endgame, you now know — SPOILERS — that all of these guesses are wrong. Every last one. Did the fate of the universe come down to one rat? I like my guesses better. 

Read Also:

The Five Movies You Need to Watch To Understand Infinity War

Every Character Unaccounted For After Infinity War

Every MCU Superhero Category, Ranked

Best to Worst  MCU Movie, Ranked

 

About the End Credits Scenes in Ant Man & The Wasp

First off, it’s a Marvel movie, okay? You simply may not leave your seat until the lights come up. In this case, Ant Man and the Wasp is no different. Make your friends — and even strangers — “hold onto their butts.” (Ten points to Gryffindor if you remember where that quote is from.)

Spoilers for Infinity War and Ant Man & The Wasp ahead!

[pullquote]Some extra scenes/tags/stingers are fluffy fun, some add to the plot, and some hint at what’s to come. Some tease you in a sort of parody way, or just send you off with a little laugh. We’ve got a fine stew of all that in Ant Man 2, the 20th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.[/pullquote]

My advice: don’t leave until the bitter end.

As the credits roll, for two minutes we see scenes from Ant Man and the Wasp as miniature models, highlights from the film. There are posed dolls; there are miniatures sets; it’s nice and all. Since this bit of Title Credits begins exactly as the movie ends, we don’t call this kind of thing an extra. It’s neat to see, though, with some good music to enjoy while you wait for the big anticipated mid-credits scene.

Some background first : Ant Man and The Wasp takes place roughly before/during/around the momentous events of Avengers: Infinity War.  Maybe most of their timelime happens during Thor: Ragnarok, which leads directly into Infinity War. 

Seriously awful things happen in the last 20 minutes of IW. I saw it five times in the theater and still bawled like a baby. Peter Parker and Teen Groot destroyed me.

So when I say that I and the audience GASPED out loud in the crucial mid-credits scene of Ant Man 2, I mean it viscerally. It was a gut-punch that surprised us all. It was almost (ALMOST) worse than what happened in Infinity War. This reminder hurt.

[pullquote position=”right”]It’s not like the Ant Man crew are my favorite superheros, and while I’d hoped  this ‘small stakes’ lighthearted film would connect to the larger MCU, I was, by the end of the movie, lulled into a sense of contentment.[/pullquote] By then, I’d totally forgotten about The Snap. As the directors surely planned. When The Snap returned, during the mid-credits, making ash of Hank, Hope and the newly-freed Janet — simultaneously stranding Scott Lang in the Quantum Realm — I actually yelped in the theater. A huge audience “Nooooooo!” showed I wasn’t the only one lulled into complacency.

And that is exactly what the Marvel studios bank on. Light, fun  movie? Check. Awful last minute universe continuity meant to shock the audience — double check.

So, Scott is left alone in the Quantum Realm (to be fair, Luis, Bill Foster or even Ghost could retrieve him, and maybe he was immune to The Snap by being out of space and time…theories abound), but that doesn’t take the power of the moment away when Hope, Hank, and Janet disappear. Mic drop. End scene.

If you wait for the final, post credit extra, you’re treated to a hint of the world status, Post Snap. Streets are empty, while sirens sound in the distance. We pan through Scott’s empty house, in several rooms, see the TV switch over to the Emergency Broadcast System…and finally land on one of Scott’s giant ants playing his drums. Dire as things are, it’s still an Ant Man movie, providing a grace of comic relief, after the brutal reminder of the state of the universe.

The final nail in the coffin swiftly follows, when the screen fades to black and we see the title card: Ant Man and The Wasp Will Return.

Then a beat passes.

And a question mark pops up, to show: “Ant Man and The Wasp Will Return?”

Nice. Ambiguity.

Then lights come up and you’re left feeling like you saw a cutely made, well-done late phase MCU film: a rollicking good time with refreshingly small stakes (sans the very end).

So, now what?

My theory is that people we didn’t see dissolve are still with us. So, Luis is still in the front of the van. Bill Foster and his Ghost ward know how to operate the Quantum Tunnel. Getting Scott out may be a simple affair, and his knowledge of the Quantum Realm might hold the key to undoing Thanos’ damage.

It’s a long wait til 2019’s March release of Captain Marvel and the as-yet-untitled Avengers 4, due later that summer.

[pullquote]I do have a burning question: How did Hank Pym and family not know Earth was under attack by massive waves of alien monsters in Wakanda? You’d think this wouldn’t be the time for starting a risky new quantum experiment. Personally, I’d be glued to the news of world events.[/pullquote]

And for that matter, in Infinity War, how did Nick Fury, of all people, not realize his planet was in a serious state of war? Shouldn’t he be dialed in to everything the Avengers say or do, at all times? Running around panicking in NYC, he seemed strangely out of the loop.

Here’s the Mid Credit Scene from Ant Man and The Wasp, mixed in with the real-time last moment of Avengers: Infinity War. (2.3 minutes long.) You might need a tissue.

Coda. Final Scene:

What do you think happens with Scott, the Quantum Realm, and the Post-World Snap?

Movie Review – Ant-Man and the Wasp

When leaving the theater my overall feeling was that I liked the movie — I gave it an 8.8/10 in the RunPee User Poll — but the more I think about it, the less I like it.

What I liked
The movie had plenty of funny moments and the action was decent. Actually, the action had most of the humor. And the father-daughter relationship scenes are heartwarming. The relationship dynamics between Scott, Hope, and Dr. Pym works really well. There’s conflict and regret, along with trust and support. The creators did a great job in that department and should have expanded on it.

The quantum realm stuff was pretty cool. I love that they included a scene with tardigrades. (Tiny animals in the cellular world.)

It was also a nice touch how the quantum probe they built got smaller in quantum jumps. Meaning, it didn’t get gradually smaller, it got smaller in discrete steps:  quantum.

(There’s a common misconception that quantum equals small. That’s not necessarily true. If you could travel in quantum jumps it would mean you would go from one place to another without traversing the space in between. That quantum jump could be a micrometer or kilometer.)

What I don’t like
I think the problem is, overall the MCU movies have done a great job building a believable unbelievable universe. What I mean is, we accept the existence of Infinity Stones, and that all of them united in a gauntlet can give the wearer unfathomable power at the snap of their fingers. Most of the technology is fantastical, but we buy it because it works in the story. However, in Ant-Man and the Wasp there are a lot of inconsistencies I find annoying the more I think about them.

For instance: when Scott is gigantic we find out he has trouble breathing. He says at one point, “The air feels chunky,” and then passes out. That’s a great limitation on the technology. I can totally accept that when he’s big he has difficulty absorbing normal sized oxygen atoms when he breathes. It’s a nice nod to the realism of the physics/biology involved. But then they totally ignore that principle when the ants are enlarged. It’s like the creators want us to think that Scott has a limit, but it doesn’t apply to the ants. I’m totally okay with breaking the laws of physics/biology to create a story. But once a limit is introduced, the story should stay consistent to it. That’s just a pet peeve of mine.

By the way, if you’re interested in the physics/biology of animal sizes I highly recommend these videos by Kurzgesagt. (If you’re unfamiliar with Kurzgesagt, then you may thank me later for introducing you to them.)

What Happens If We Throw an Elephant From a Skyscraper? Life & Size 1

How to Make an Elephant Explode with Science – The Size of Life 2

And that’s not even the worst part. My biggest gripe of the movie is the Ghost sub-plot that just fell way short of Marvel’s standards. I hate to say it, but the acting by Hannah John-Kamen in some of the scenes was the worst acting in any Marvel movie to date. I can’t solely blame the actress. I think the directing had a lot to do with it.

Besides the bad acting, the Ghost sub-plot felt like a forced drama to make the plot more difficult than it needed to be. And if that wasn’t enough, we get the technology arms dealer Sonny that convoluted the drama even more. At least the Sonny character adds a dash of humor.

If I were asked to place this movie somewhere in the MCU oeuvre, I’d say it belongs somewhere in the bottom 3rd.

Grade: C+

And now, the long wait until March 8, 2019 when Captain Marvel comes out.

Peetimes:

Finding good Peetimes was pretty easy for this movie. There were long establishing shots that were very easy to summarize.

The first and third Peetimes are the best. I only made the second Peetime an *emergency* Peetime because the story jumps between 4 distinct scenes, making the synopsis longer than I’d like.

Related on RunPee.com: 

How the Quantum Realm Might Save the Marvel Universe in Avengers 4

Ant Man Rewatch Review

Ant Man and Sexism: Real Ant Science

The Quantum Realm in Ant-Man 2 Offers Answers for Avengers 4

People are wondering why the big beautiful Avengers 3 – Infinity War is being followed so closely in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by, of all heroes, the Ant Man. With Ant-Man and the Wasp smashing across theaters July 6, we’ve barely had a moment to absorb the calamitous events of the Infinity War. Where, as you might have heard, a LOT OF STUFF happens. (If you haven’t seen it yet, GO NOW.)

Ant Man and the Wasp, strangely, will be the 20th film in the MCU. If you’ve been up to date with the Avengers, you might be curious why one of the lower ranking MCU heroes — who’s been on hiatus since Captain America 3: Civil War (on ‘house arrest,’ just like Hawkeye) — is the next star in this ten-year-old lineup of films. Why him? Why now?

[pullquote]Most people across the internet guessed that Ant Man and the Wasp was intended as a palette cleanser, serving up a comic, lighter fare to audiences — just like the original Ant Man in 2015 did for the heavier Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. But there may be more going on this time than previously assumed.[/pullquote]

———-

Spoilers for Avengers Infinity War to follow. Plus idle speculation about Ant Man and the Wasp. 

It seems like we NEED an Ant Man story right now. Remember the Pym Particle, and Hank Pym, and the Quantum Realm (QR for short)? The QR wasn’t a huge part of Ant Man in 2015, but we do know Hank’s wife is stuck there, and that Scott Lang somehow escaped it. He should have been trapped, “forever shrinking.” There’s a lot we don’t know about such a vast, and yet tiny, playground. Fans have assumed Scott and now Hope (as the Wasp) will be going back and getting Hank’s lost wife in their next outing.  Sounds good, right?

[pullquote position=”right”]But what if the QR provides a way to undo Thanos’s big universe killing snap, somehow?[/pullquote] Who else might know a few things about the QR?

Possibly Dr. Strange, who’s seen and done many “strange” things, especially in his own movie. He has a connection to space and time that goes beyond the Time Stone. And while he’s dust now, he did look into over 14 million timelines to see the ONE that works out for the good guys. Maybe he saw that Ant Man and the Wasp have something to do with this, on a sub-particle level.

Okay, who else might come into play? There’s the 21st movie in the MCU queue: Captain Marvel. At the very bitter end of the Infinity War, Nick Fury seemingly sends a page back in time to Ms. Marvel. What are her powers? Without using the comic books for reference, we have to assume there’s something Fury thought she could do to save the universe…and maybe bring back those who turned to ash. [pullquote]It’s possible the Quantum Realm, outside normal space and time, has to do with this. In which case, bringing the Ant Man back now makes sense. Maybe there’s more than just a need for lighthearted comedy on the larger MCU plate.[/pullquote]

Movie Web has this to say about our conjecture: “At this point in time, it seems that the exploration of the Quantum Realm in Ant-Man 2 will play a large part in Avengers 4, leading to a journey through time and space to reverse the snap of Thanos. Time travel was the guess from most fans of the MCU, but it seems that some interdimensional travel will be closer to what actually happens in the final movie of phase 3. The real question will be how they implement the Quantum Realm in Avengers 4 and who is able to come back.”

In this piece on Movie Web, they explore this idea more, focusing on Captain Marvel taking her own trip to the QR, and tying directly into Ant-Man’s oeuvre.

Inverse.com takes everything a huge step further, implying that Ant Man might not be a second string hero at all, but could potentially be the most powerful superhero. (I’d like to add that this doesn’t refer actually to Scott Lang, but potentially anyone using the suit to enter the QR.)

Here’s what Dr. Spiros Michalakis, quantum physicist, wrote in 2015: “[I]f someone could go to a place where the laws of physics as we know them were not yet formed, at a place where the arrow of time was broken and the fabric of space was not yet woven, the powers of such a master of the quantum realm would only be constrained by their ability to come back to the same (or similar) reality from which they departed. All the superheroes of Marvel and DC Comics combined would stand no chance against Ant-Man with a malfunctioning regulator.”

What this means: The Ant Man 2 movie might not be as fluffy as it appears. The trailers look fun and silly, the posters seem light enough, and the first movie had admittedly smallish stakes. Plus, it was almost entirely comedic. But right now, things in the MCU are dire. Ant Man and the Wasp might be a sneakily serious story, and of greater import than anyone previously suspected.

We’ll find out next week.

Read the RunPee Rewatch Review of Ant Man

Ant Man and Sexism: Real Ant Science