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[This story contains spoilers for Ant-Man and the Wasp]
Barely two months have passed between the releases of Marvel’s two summer films this year: at the end of April, we got Avengers: Infinity War, and we’re now diving into their latest entry, Ant-Man and the Wasp. Infinity War, as anyone who saw the film remembers, ends on an exceptionally grim note. Half of the universe, including half of our beloved Marvel Cinematic Universe superheroes, die at the hands (well, at the bejeweled glove) of the murderous Thanos (Josh Brolin), leaving the survivors in tragic disarray. Ant-Man and the Wasp, as the trailers hinted, is vastly more lighthearted and humorous, and is largely successful at ignoring the dark events of Infinity War.
In fact, it’s only when Ant-Man and the Wasp directly acknowledges the end of the previous entry that this new movie falters. But first, let’s focus on the positive. Ant-Man and the Wasp is, unsurprisingly, very low-stakes, even more so than its predecessor. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is struggling to survive the end of his two-year house arrest at the hands of the U.S. government, a punishment for the part he played in the airport-tarmac sequence of Captain America: Civil War. When we rejoin Scott in his exploits, he’s only got three days left before he’s a free man again. But because of his past journey into the Quantum Realm, Scott has an unexpected connection to the long-thought-dead Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), so her husband Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) recruit Scott once more to help rescue Janet.
This adventure isn’t without its suspense, in the form of the antagonistic Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) and the greedy entrepreneur Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins). Both Ghost and Sonny want to stand in the way of Hank, Scott, and Hope saving Janet for different reasons; Ghost wants to transfer the quantum energy Janet has harnessed in the Quantum Realm to save herself, while Sonny wants to make money off said energy. But even with those threats, things never seem too scary; Hank’s special lab is hidden from view by being shrunken to miniscule size often, Hope tries to evade capture by making a Hello Kitty Pez dispenser giant-size, and so on. Ant-Man and the Wasp isn’t childish or overly immature, but its cheerful sense of humor is a bracing and welcome break from the darkness of Infinity War.
That is, until the very end of the film. After the story proper concludes and the goofily animated end credits begin rolling, we get the first of two post-credits scenes. Here, Scott heads back to the Quantum Realm for a brief trip, wherein he will procure some quantum energy for the now-not-that-evil Ghost. Hope, Hank and Janet all send him back, but right as Scott is ready to return to the real world, he only hears static on his communicator. Why? Well, Hope, Hank and Janet have all been snapped out of existence by Thanos.
The second post-credits scene doubles down on this twist, as we see Scott’s house, deserted by all but a life-size ant used as a house-arrest decoy throughout the majority of the film. Then, the final kicker: Marvel’s typical message stating that the heroes of this specific film will return, but with a period that turns…into a question mark! Because maybe Ant-Man and the Wasp won’t actually return next year!
Ant-Man and the Wasp feels more consistent and coherent than the 2015 original. It doubles down on what worked about the first film, expands Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp to the point where she more than earns her place in the title, and is generally very enjoyable. It’s not nearly so jarring to watch a more upbeat superhero film only a couple months after Avengers: Infinity War; in fact, that makes this even more fun. But those post-credits scenes are an unnecessary tease of a film that we’re all going to see next summer, out of obligation if not out of excitement. Sure, it’s intriguing to wonder how Scott Lang will exit the Quantum Realm, but…of course he’s going to. Because of course his friends are coming back. The suspense at the end of the film is just unnecessary and obnoxious.
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