(Spoilers from Infinity War, Ant-Man and The Wasp, Captain Marvel, and — let’s face it — maybe the entire MCU will be found below.)
After the new Captain Marvel trailer revealed Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers soaring through space, it was safe to say that not only did her “cat” mean something to Nick Fury, but that her ability to kick ass while soaring through space might make Thanos cry. Even Kevin Smith (the fan-boy authority on such matters) believes that she’s the only one who could defeat the genocidal supervillain. And finally on Friday, the Avengers: Endgame trailer revealed the depressed remaining superheroes, as well as Hawkeye’s return with a possible new identity. Oh, and Ant-Man is back, too. That silly old Ant-Man! Always good for a laugh and standing outside the Avengers Headquarters, playing the “don’t you know who I am?” game on CCTV:
“Hi, uh, is anyone home? This is Scott Lang. We met a few years ago. At the airport. In Germany. I got really big. Ant-Man? Ant-Man, I know you know that. That’s me! Can you buzz me in?”
The resurfacing of Ant-Man — who has always been considered a “lesser player” in the MCU, which makes him an underdog worth rooting for — may be a lot more important than it initially seems. Of course, his appearance also came as a surprise to Captain America and Black Widow, who wondered aloud if they were looking at old footage (and maybe, it IS old footage?). Earlier, Bruce Banner was shown lamenting the apparent loss of both Lang and Peter Parker/Spider-Man.
Let’s dig in here on what all of this might mean, starting with this question: How exactly did Ant-Man return from the Quantum Realm? At the end of 2018’s Ant-Man and The Wasp, things didn’t look promising. Yes, the film was intended to be a lighthearted placeholder and a reprieve from all the death at the end of Infinity War, given that it mostly took place before Thanos’ snap. However, a post-credits scene didn’t fully let the audience off the hook. Scott Lang enters the quantum tunnel van, and during his dive, he’s relying on Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), and Hope/The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) to get him outta there.
Unfortunately at that moment, the film’s events catch up to present moment. All three assistants are dusted by the snap, and Ant-Man is seemingly trapped in a subatomic state. Yes, he survives the snap from within the Quantum Realm (which in the MCU, sits outside of time and space) but it sure as hell looked like he was stuck forever, given that not even Janet Van Dyne’s scientific prowess has been able to prove that a person can escape on their own.
Marvel then twisted the knife by flashing a title card that initially said, “Ant-Man And The Wasp Will Return!” And then the exclamation point transformed into a question mark. Talk about a punch in the stomach.