The follow-up to 2015 hit Ant-Man reunites us with Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) as he pairs up with Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), the new incumbent of the superhero Wasp costume.
Amid the movie's plethora of witty shrinking/enlarging CGI effects and quick-fire gags (largely down to Michael Pena's scene-stealing sidekick character, Luis), it's the inevitable post-credit scenes that have got us talking. Here's a breakdown of what happens, and what they could mean for the future of the MCU...
SPOILERS AHEAD! GO NO FURTHER UNLESS YOU'VE WATCHED ANT-MAN AND THE WASP
Post-credits scene #1
As we know, Ant-Man and The Wasp takes place after the events of 2016's Captain America: Civil War. The movie picks up with Scott under house arrest as a result of his activities in Germany battling Team Iron Man. Nevertheless, all's well that ends well as Scott, Hope and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) utilise the Quantum Tunnel to bring back Pym's wife Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), the original Wasp, from the Quantum Realm. This is the microverse where time and space cease to have any meaning, and where Scott ventured in the first Ant-Man, barely escaping with his life.
The first credits scene sees the team with a newly revamped, mobile version of the Quantum Tunnel. Scott re-enters the realm in order to retrieve the serum that will heal Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), the antagonist-turned-sympathetic-figure whose exposure to Quantum material as a youngster causes her to exist both inside and outside the material world.
However, once Scott is inside, the radio communication with Hope and Hank goes dead. We then cut back to their bodies having crumbled into ash, the tell-tale sign that Scott's journey to the other side unfortunately coincided with Avengers: Infinity War super-villain Thanos' (Josh Brolin) fatal finger snap. With half of all life in the universe having been extinguished, the movie ends with Scott stranded in the realm much as Janet was beforehand.
Director Peyton Reed says that was enormous pressure to nail the scene, given it's a vital puzzle piece connecting this movie with the events of Infinity War and next year's Avengers 4. He tells RadioTimes.com: "[Christopher] Markus and [Stephen] McFeely, [the writers of Infinity War], did the first pass of a draft of our tag scene, which then our writers came on and refined. And a lot of it was kind of figuring out who was gonna be in that scene. There could have been other characters in that scene. So… yeah it was a process. And we had to be very smart about how we did it."
It's the movie's only explicit connection to the events of Infinity War, and does a good job of leaving us hanging. Clearly, Hope, Hank and Janet were among the ill-fated 50% chosen at random for cosmic destruction – and yet the fateful timing of Scott's Quantum Realm excursion means he's been spared the same fate. Although he's now utterly stranded, he is, at least, still alive, unbeknownst to Thanos, and may emerge as one of the secret weapons in Avengers 4. But how will he emerge from the Quantum Realm at all?
Maybe the answer resides in what we already know – that the Time Stone will be deployed during the events of Avengers 4 and the clock will essentially be reset on the entire MCU. It's highly likely this is what Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) was alluding to when he told Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) there was only a one in 14 million chance of defeating Thanos. There's just the small issue of removing it from Thanos' Infinity gauntlet...
Should this prove to be the strategy it would not only unwrite Scott being stranded in the Quantum Realm, it would potentially alter his entire narrative arc and that of his fellow Avengers. (Tellingly, Chris Evans was snapped on set wearing his original World War II Captain America costume, suggesting an element of time travel may be involved.) With Brie Larson's all-powerful Captain Marvel incoming in March 2019, it's unclear whether she might be the one to wrest the Time Stone from Thanos and reinvent the entire MCU mythology as we know it.
All that aside, one seemingly throwaway line from Janet (who was lost in the Quantum Realm for 30 years) to Scott may have given the clearest hint so far, when she warns him to avoid the "Time Vortex". Might Scott be the one to end up time-travelling, and disrupting the MCU as we know it? Given his absence from Infinity War, it would be a nice way of repositioning him as a figure of importance in Avengers 4.
Post-credits scene #2
Not a massive amount to report in this one, suffice it to say, we get a nice reminder of the wacky humour coursing through the Ant-Man series. With human life having been wiped out by Thanos, we return to Scott's eerily desolate house, now solely populated by his oversized ant sidekick who is engaging in a spot of drumming.
It's a flippant and humorous scene, although it may indicate a potential weakness in Thanos's plan, implying there's plenty of organic life left in the MCU that avoided the dreaded Snap. Should Scott emerge from the Quantum Realm, is he in a position to command his ant helpers in the fight against Thanos? Unlikely, but it's fun to think about.
The most interesting thing about this stinger comes afterwards, as a piece of on-screen text reads: "Ant-Man and The Wasp will return?" The presence of the question mark again throws the question of character continuity and fate into disarray. Given that Scott has only racked up two movies, and Evangeline Lilly has only appeared once as the much-hyped Wasp character, it's unlikely they'll be written off altogether yet.
But if there is time travel involved in Avengers 4, will their newly formed partnership be undone as history is reworked? Is, therefore, the question mark referring not to the survival of the individual characters, but, more subtly, their future as a superhero unit? If so, it could potentially be one of the many ways in which the MCU will play on our emotions as it advances into the mysterious Phase 4 stage next year.