It’s hard to argue that the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline can be a troubling one. Whether it’s the small inconsistencies–when, exactly, is Spider-Man: Homecoming set–or the order or the films relative to their place in the timeline, there’s always quite a bit to sift through. Warning: Spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War follow.
That’s no different for the MCU’s next release, Ant-Man and the Wasp. Though it’s releasing after the game-changing events of Avengers: Infinity War, the new Marvel film is actually set before Thanos went on his finger-snapping rampage. In fact, Ant-Man and the Wasp serves as more of a sequel to Captain America: Civil War than just about anything else in the franchise.
So why slot a sequel to Civil War after the release of Infinity War? A big piece of the puzzle is it serves as a sort of palette cleanser for Marvel fans who watched so many of their favorite superheroes get turned to dust by Thanos. “I love that we come off of this cataclysmic event in Infinity War, and then have a self-contained, fun, clever, action-packed, emotional ride,” Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige tells GameSpot.
For Peyton Reed, who directed Ant-Man and the Wasp, the movie’s place in the timeline is similar to the first Ant-Man–which he also directed. “Us coming out after Infinity War absolutely mirrors the first movie coming out right after Age of Ultron,” he says. “And it’s, I’m sure, by design from Marvel, you know, and really kind of showcases their willingness to embrace wildly different tones in movies. But for me, I think it’s great because we don’t have any of the story burden of servicing, you know, Infinity Stones and stuff like that. We can just tell the story which, in the movie has really high stakes, but they’re intensely personal stakes.”
The idea of embracing different tones is one that’s important to Feige and the team at Marvel Studios, as evidenced by the three MCU films released in 2018. “One of the big reasons we wanted to make this movie, and one of the big reasons we wanted the movie released in this order: Black Panther, Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp, to show how different the tones can be, and that I’ve always said I always want to expand the definition not just of what a ‘comic book’ or ‘superhero movie’ could be, but now what a Marvel Studios movie could be, or what [the] MCU could be,” he explains.
As Marvel looks to the future or what a movie in the MCU can be, Ant-Man and the Wasp hits theaters on July 6. For more on Ant-Man and the Wasp, don’t forget to check out our review of the film, as well as Feige’s thoughts on evolving the superhero franchise in the future.