Marvel Confirms Where Ant-Man & the Wasp Fits Into The MCU Timeline

Warning: Contains SPOILERS for Marvel's What If...? episode 5.

Marvel's What If...? episode 5 reveals exactly where Ant-Man & the Wasp fits into the MCU timeline. When Earth's Mightiest Heroes assembled in Avengers: Infinity War, one hero was notably absent: Scott Lang. Although he'd worked with Captain America during the superhero civil war, he had subsequently parted ways with Team Cap. As Black Widow explained when asked where Hawkeye was, "he and Scott took a deal. It was too tough on their families." Amusingly, she was talking to Bruce Banner, who'd left Earth before the Avengers were introduced to Ant-Man and had no idea who she was talking about.

This line of dialogue turned out to be the setup for Ant-Man & the Wasp, which opened during the last weeks of Scott Lang's house arrest. Viewers initially assumed the story was simultaneous — that Ant-Man and his friends were exploring the Quantum Realm at the same time Thanos invaded in New York — but in truth, Ant-Man & the Wasp's post-credits scene suggested the relationship was a little more complicated than that. It clearly showed some time passed between the main events of the film, and the moment Thanos snapped his fingers — erasing so many of Scott Lang's loved ones, and inadvertently leaving him stranded in the Quantum Realm.

Related: What If…? Episode 5: 6 Biggest Questions About Marvel's Zombie Apocalypse

Marvel's What If...? episode 5 finally explains exactly where the main events of Ant-Man & the Wasp fit into the MCU timeline. It is set in an alternate timeline where Hank Pym's Quantum Realm exploration went tragically wrong because Janet Van Dyne had been infected with a zombie virus while in the Quantum Realm — one that was subsequently unleashed upon the world. According to the Watcher — essentially the "Voice of God" in What If...? — two weeks later, Bruce Banner was blasted down to Earth by Heimdall's Bifrost bridge. He arrived to find Earth had succumbed to a zombie apocalypse.

The two-week timeline emphasizes the speed with which the zombies have consumed the Earth. Far from mindless, these zombies appear to have retained the ability to use technology — and, crucially, super-powers. Humanity's downfall likely became inevitable after Doctor Strange and the Masters of the Mystic Arts were exposed to the virus, because they could use their sling rings to travel the globe, and no forces could keep them out.

Some viewers will probably wonder why Ant-Man and his friends didn't travel to New York to help the Avengers against Thanos in the main timeline, if they weren't otherwise occupied with the Quantum Realm. The answer is simple: they were in San Francisco, too far from all the action. It's important to remember Thanos' Black Order arrived in New York and only stayed there for a brief period of time, before apparently leaving the planet. Only the Avengers knew they subsequently took Vision to Wakanda, leading Thanos and his forces there in pursuit of the Mind Stone, and they didn't reach out to Ant-Man for help. Unable to help with all these cosmic events, even if he was particularly minded to do so, Hank Pym settled for using the Quantum Van to send Scott into the Quantum Realm in search of healing particles for Ghost — and Scott was there when Thanos snapped his fingers in Wakanda, leaving him stranded in the Quantum Realm when Pym, Janet Van Dyne, and Hope were all Blipped away. Ironically, this coincidence of timing would mean the world was saved — because when Scott emerged, it was with the idea of time travel.

More: Every MCU Easter Egg In What If? Episode 5

Marvel's What If...? releases new episodes every Wednesday on Disney+.

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