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Could Ant-Man & the Wasp be the beginning of Doctor Strange's "endgame" plan to defeat Thanos? Although the next few Marvel movies are scattered throughout the timeline, the reality is that Marvel Studios is telling a single narrative right now. Both Ant-Man & the Wasp and next year's Captain Marvel are designed to set the pieces in place for the final battle against Thanos and true culmination of the MCU. As the cliffhanger ending of Avengers: Infinity War showed, at stake is no less than half the life in the universe - and, right now, the heroes seem to have lost.
Given this is the case, viewers need to be carefully watching every Marvel movie, looking for clues as to just how they will either undo or avert Thanos's "snap." Certain key plot threads will run through each story, to be finally resolved in 2019's Avengers 4. By spotting those plot threads, we can deduce the overall direction of the MCU.
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But the mid- and post-credits scenes of Ant-Man & the Wasp are particularly important, the moment They include our first glimpse of the world after the "snap", the moment Thanos achieved his horrifying victory. That's a direct connection between the films, and it raises a fascinating question; is it possible Ant-Man is part of Doctor Strange's "endgame?"
Doctor Strange was undeniably one of the most impressive heroes in Avengers: Infinity War. Although the future Sorcerer Supreme didn't choose to deploy the Time Stone directly against Thanos, he did use it in a far more creative way. In one scene, Strange used the Time Stone to glimpse the "ultimate outcome" of over 14 million different futures, to his horror discovering almost all of them see the Avengers defeated; there was only one outcome that would ultimately see Thanos stopped.
At first, the heroes assumed the successful strategy was Star-Lord's plan; disarm Thanos, and get the Infinity Gauntlet away from him. But Star-Lord unwittingly sabotaged the heroes when he broke Mantis's hold on Thanos, giving the Mad Titan a chance to break free and resume the battle. Finally, a crucial moment came when Thanos's triumph seemed inevitable. The Guardians were defeated, Spider-Man was out of it, and Thanos had just stabbed Tony Stark with a blade broken off from his own armor. Thanos was about to go in for the kill when, to the surprise of everybody, Doctor Strange stopped the battle and handed over the Time Stone. Armed with the power of foresight, Strange cautioned Stark that they were "in the endgame now".
While this move directly allowed Thanos to win and wipe out half of the universe, it appears that this was all part of Strange's plan. Just before he disintegrated, Strange said to Stark, "It was the only way", suggesting he carefully orchestrated events to guide them down the course that will ultimately see Thanos defeated. The Mad Titan's victory is only a temporary measure.
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This scheme has become known as the endgame plan, but what exactly it is has been the subject of much speculation. It's been suggested that Tony Stark is a key part, hence his life being spared, although it may be a totally different MCU movie that provides the ultimate clue.