Ant-Man and the Wasp's ending explained

After the soul-rending gut-punch of Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp is like an afternoon trip to Baskin-Robbins. It's colorful and exciting, and unless you have the version of lactose intolerance that makes you allergic to fun, you're not leaving with anything but a smile on your face. It's a big movie about things changing sizes. How could that not turn out great?

Still, that definitely isn't to say that everything got a neat resolution at the end of the movie. True to form for Marvel films, Ant-Man and the Wasp ends on a slippery slope covered in cliffhangers, unclear character resolutions, and a lot of unanswered questions.

Well, grab some orange slices and watch out for tardigrades, because we're diving deep into the Quantum Realm to clear up some of the nagging questions you might have had after seeing the movie. Here's the ending of Ant-Man and the Wasp explained — obviously, spoilers ahead.

More human than human

Clearly, the Quantum Realm is a crazy place. It's the kind of crazy that'll make you crazy just by hanging out in it. We first saw how bonkers it is in the first Ant-Man, when Scott Lang nearly got lost after shrinking between the molecules of Yellowjacket's suit.

But it gets worse. When Hank Pym takes his Innerspace bus into the Quantum Realm in Ant-Man and the Wasp, he almost immediately starts losing his mind. Thankfully, Janet shows up just in time to fix him with her new quantum powers.

So…what was up with that?

As Janet briefly explained, the lengthy amount of time she spent in the Realm — 30 years, give or take — forced her to adapt. But it was more than mere adaptation. In some way she can't quite explain, she evolved to deal with the madness of the Quantum Realm. Part of that evolution apparently gave her the ability to influence quantum particles. When Hank got lost in his own mind, she basically guided him back to sanity.

It's still unclear what the extent of those powers is, but there is one benefit to Janet's newfound abilities…

Quantum healing

Most of the story arc involving Ghost, a.k.a. Ava Starr, deals with her search for a way to cure her quantum phase-shifting condition. After getting stuck in a quantum explosion as a child, the molecules in her body got extra jumpy, allowing her to shift through solid matter and turn invisible. It's a sweet power set that made for some visually amazing fight scenes, but her character is also in constant pain and inching closer to death with every moment. So that part's not good.

To end her suffering, Ava concocts a plan to ambush Janet Van Dyne on her way out of the Quantum Realm and siphon Janet's stored quantum energy. To do so, she uses a sleep chamber built to help stave off the effects of her condition, although nobody ever explains exactly what it is. By all appearances, it's designed to focus or manipulate quantum particles. In day-to-day life, it helps Ava recalibrate and sleep at night. In a pinch, though, it can apparently draw particles into itself…or something.

It turns out that Ava didn't need to go to all that trouble, though, because Janet is more than happy to cure Ava. Remember, kids: Quantum friendship is always more powerful than quantum fist fights.

Infinity fallout

In case you still haven't seen Avengers: Infinity War, fair warning: We're about to get into double spoilers here.

Okay, so that ending, right? By the end of Ant-Man and the Wasp, everything's been patched up in the Ant-Man universe. The bad guys either turned into good guys through the power of love or were tied up and left for the cops. Our two young heroes kissed, and our two old(er) heroes got their happy reunion.

And then, bang. Like a punch to the face, the mid-credits scene came along to remind us that this happy little Ant-Man universe actually exists within the big, mean MCU, where Thanos beat the Avengers and dusted half the universe. Hank, Janet, and Hope are now on the list of finger-snap casualties, and Scott's stuck in quantum-ville. If you haven't seen Infinity War, that moment came out of nowhere, with no explanation and no follow-up.

Shrinking timeline

With that major connection to Infinity War, it's worth taking a moment to clarify the timeline of everything that happened in Ant-Man and the Wasp.

Despite being released after Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp takes place before the events of that film. Right before it, by all accounts. The movie doesn't mention how much time has passed between the main film and the mid-credits scene, but however long it was, that time gap essentially contained Infinity War. When Scott jumps into the quantum tunnel, Thanos is presumably killing Vision and finishing up his gauntlet over in Wakanda, putting the ending of both movies at just about the same moment, chronologically.

But this connection also leads to some interesting new developments for Infinity War. Marvel mastermind Kevin Feige mentioned in an Ant-Man and the Wasp featurette that the Van Dyne family will be "very important going forward" into Avengers 4. If that's the case, then there's a good chance that all the fallen heroes in Infinity War will make a comeback. It could be that Hope, Hank, and Janet — along with the rest of the casualties of Thanos' finger snap — weren't killed outright, but instead transferred into the Quantum Realm.

Or, more depressingly, it may be that their quantum research lays the foundation for the Avengers to bring down Thanos, and even though Wasp actress Evangeline Lilly confirmed that she worked with Brie Larson (Captain Marvel) in Avengers 4, she may only appear through flashbacks.

That's honestly the least likely scenario, but if we know anything about the MCU, it's that they love to destroy fans' expectations. So who knows?

Lost in the quantum realm

Ant-Man and the Wasp certainly left one of its heroes in a big cliffhanger. When the Van Dynes disintegrated while Scott was in the Quantum Realm, he apparently got stuck there. Not only are the only people who know how to get him out gone, but they're probably also the only people who even know he's in there. It's like your dad forgetting to pick you up from karate class, only worse because your dad doesn't exist anymore and karate class is actually a fractal dimension beyond the bounds of space and time. So you can see how it's a sticky situation for Scott.

Unless he gets rescued in a Captain Marvel post-credits scene or something, Avengers 4 is going to have to spend some screen time getting Scott back to the real world. That's okay, but it also opens up an interesting possibility: After spending enough time in the Quantum Realm, Janet Van Dyne learned how to manipulate quantum particles. If Scott spends enough time sandwiched between realities, he could feasibly develop the same ability. That would give him a definite upper hand against Thanos in the future, especially if, as fans have speculated, the Infinity Stones are somehow tied into the Quantum Realm.

Ghost remission

Whatever Janet Van Dyne did to clear up Ava's little molecular stability rash, it clearly wasn't a permanent cure. That's why the mid-credits scene sees Scott jumping into a portable quantum tunnel. He's going after "healing particles," which are explained as…well, nothing. The movie doesn't bother trying to describe exactly what those are, but it makes sure you know that trapping those particles in a can is the only medicine that'll keep Ava from turning back into a quantum wiggle worm.

But with Hank and Janet and Hope turned to Infinity dust and Scott trapped in the Quantum Realm, she doesn't have a way to get that medicine. On the one hand, that sucks for her. On the other hand, she technically still has her powers. It's safe to assume that going the Winter Soldier route with Ghost and turning her into one of the good guys is a hint that she'll be around in the future. And now that she's apparently in constant danger of reverting to her old phase-shifting self, she could come into play again in the larger fight against Thanos.