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Ant-Man and the Wasp’s director on that claustrophobic post-credit scene

Peyton Reed explains how to make a stand-alone movie in a post-Avengers: Infinity War universe

ant-man and the wasp Marvel Studios
Matt Patches is an executive editor at Polygon. He has over 15 years of experience reporting on movies and TV, and reviewing pop culture.

“We knew at some point that we were a fairly stand-alone movie,” director Peyton Reed says of his action-comedy Ant-Man and the Wasp, “but we knew we could not ignore the events of Infinity War.

Which is how, after the whirlwind chases, the MacGuffin hunting, and the warm and fuzzy conclusion of the Ant-Man sequel, Reed wound up dropping a claustrophobic nightmare on the audience in the form of an after-credits sequence.

“We talked a lot about what this sequence was going to be, how we were going to start to reveal this information in our movie, when we hit on the version that’s in the final movie.”

[Warning: This story contains major spoilers for Ant-Man and the Wasp.]

Most of Ant-Man and the Wasp takes place within a 48-hour window in which Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) speed around San Francisco, hunt for their shrunken lab, and travel to the depths of the Quantum Realm before rescuing Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) to the ebbs and flows of nano-spacetime. The timeline in relation to Avengers: Infinity War is left purposefully ambiguous.

“At one point we talked about [placing] little Easter eggs along the way, to start to reveal to the audience where the movie takes place in the timeline,” Reed says. “That felt not very fun to us and kind of obvious.”

Knowing exactly how Avengers: Infinity War would end — the assembled Infinity Stones, the Thanos snap, the “I don’t feel so good, Mr. Stark...” dissipation — Reed approached his post-credit reckoning with a certain cleverness. If he planted even one context clue within the actual confines of the movie, the audience would spend most of their time looking for more.

“So it felt really fun to us to not have any clues for the bulk of the movie,” he says. “People would be watching movie, watching for clues, and then they hopefully get caught up in the story and forget about it. We liked the idea of the structure where, in true Ant-Man style, everybody has closure and everything’s tied together and almost in too neat of a bow at the end. Scott’s not on house arrest, and Ant-Man and Wasp are together, Scott and Luis’ ex-con business is doing well, and then to BANG — give the audience a gut punch right after the main credits. That felt like our movie’s tone and the way of, of dealing with that.”

ant-man and the wasp quantum realm Marvel Studios

The post-credits sequence leaves the audience wondering about the rules of the Quantum Realm: Can Scott pull himself out with the aid of Hope, Hank and Janet? Should we read into the mention of “time vortexes” that accompany his descent?

Reed, more than most, seems to have it all thought out, so I threw him my one other burning Quantum Realm question: What did Janet eat when she was stranded across the molecular planes?

“Every morning for breakfast she had a Quantum Krispies,” Reed says through a scoff. That said, he has thought about it.

“We did an extraordinary amount of work talking about the Quantum Realm and about the ecosystem and how much we were going to show what we were going to tease about her. Basically, when Scott Lang is channeling Janet and they’re trying to find the location and she says, ‘Meet me in the wasteland just beyond this quantum void,’ that is the closest that she could have Hank or Hope or Scott or whoever come down. But if you could break through that void, which was as far as Scott Lang got in the first movie, if you could break through that void, maybe there’s this whole other Quantum Realm on the other side. Maybe there were civilizations and all these things down there. We wanted to just give a hint of that stuff and maybe not explain all the stuff that you see, but you know, that she has lived this life down there and she’s had to survive.”

According to Reed, there’s more Quantum Realm on the cutting room floor — you’ll just have to pick the movie up on home video to see it.

“There are a couple of things that we shot — one in particular that we shot that is not in the movie, but it’ll probably be in the deleted scenes on the DVD and Blu-ray that kind of gives a little hint of some of the stuff that she does down there. But yeah if we’re fortunate to tell another story in this universe, there’s a lot to learn about Janet.”

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