Well, we were promised a connection to Avengers: Infinity War when Ant-Man and the Wasp rolled around, and we got it. Now, with a little distance between us and the film's release, director Peyton Reed has opened up a bit about the shocking mid-credits scene, and exactly why it's structured the way it is.
**Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers for Ant-Man and the Wasp below**
Ant-Man and the Wasp had the unique position of being the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film to follow Infinity War, and it succeeds in many ways because it's everything that film isn't. While Infinity War is a galaxy sprawling epic, Ant-Man and the Wasp makes galaxies out of the smallest of things. While Infinity War has jokes, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a full-on action comedy. The two do still take place in the same universe, though, and that meant at some point the film would have to address Thanos' snap and how it affected Scott Lang, Hank Pym, and Hope and Janet van Dyne.
The film took its time with that, though, waiting until the mid-credits sequence to deliver the shattering revelation that Hank, Hope, and Janet were all lost to the snap, and they disappeared at the worst possible time, leaving Scott trapped in the quantum realm during what was supposed to be a very simple mission. What's particularly interesting about the moment from a storytelling standpoint is that it never telegraphs what's about to happen. In Infinity War, we get to actually see Thanos perform the momentary act that wipes out half of all life, but in Ant-Man and the Wasp we're far away from Wakanda, where everyone is just going about their business in San Francisco. There's no hint, other than our own knowledge of how MCU stories work, of what's about to happen.
Speaking to Uproxx about the film, and that scene in particular, Reed explained his reasoning behind sneaking up on us with the moment. He knew he couldn't ever match Infinity War for the scale of its devastation, but he also knew he could take advantage of the tonal differences between the two films to do something that was all his own.
“And even in the scene, we introduce all of these elements all at once to the audience. It’s like, oh, this is the first time I’ve seen Janet in street clothes. And they are in a parking lot? And there’s Luis’ van? And Scott in the suit and he’s going to the quantum realm in a shrunken tunnel? So everyone’s mind is on trying to make sense of the stuff at hand, so that hopefully the thing we were ultimately doing wasn’t immediately occurring to them," Reed said.
Of course, we all definitely were thinking about Infinity War as the credits rolled on Ant-Man and the Wasp. That was unavoidable, and Reed knew that, but even as you watch the scene with a degree of expectation there's still a part of your brain that's trying to parse out the plot of it all, what "quantum healing energy is," how they're still in contact with Ghost, and half a dozen other things. By the time the heartbreak hits, you're caught off guard, and it works to great effect.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is in theaters now.