Warning: This post contains SPOILERS for Ant-Man and The Wasp.

The mid-credits scene for Ant-Man and The Wasp should have been the film's actual ending. Over the last ten years, Marvel Studios has trained most audience members to wait through the credits of their films to catch clues on what is coming next. Some of these are just fun gags, but in the case of Ant-Man and The Wasp, it serves as a major development for the events of the film and the main characters.

In Ant-Man and The Wasp's mid-credits scene, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) dives into the Quantum Realm once again through the help of a miniaturized Quantum Tunnel to collect quantum healing particles for Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen). He isn't alone in this venture, as Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) is talking him through the experience. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) are also present to help monitor the journey. Well, at least they were when the experiment began...

Related: When Do Ant-Man & The Wasp's Post-Credits Scenes Take Place?

The shocking mid-credits scene reveals Thanos' snap from the end of Avengers: Infinity War claimed Hope, Hank, and Janet as its latest victims. For anyone who possibly leaves the theater when the credits begin rolling, these revelations will not be seen, possibly leading to confusion in Avengers 4. That is why this should've been the film's actual ending.

Marvel Post-Credits Scenes Have Always Been Teases... Until Ant-Man 2

Right from the start, Marvel Studios' after-credits scenes have included a number of important character moments that were important to the wider MCU narrative. It all began with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) discussing the Avengers Initiative at the end of Iron Man. Phase 1 included moments like Tony Stark trying to gain access to Bruce Banner, set up for Thor, teases of Loki and the Tesseract, plus a scene and trailer for The Avengers. Crucially, though, while all of these are important beats, none were vital pieces to the stories still to come. Basically, they're nothing that won't easily be explained or introduced in future films.

Phase 2 had Banner falling asleep during Tony's Iron Man 3 story, the introduction of The Collector, the tease of the Maximoff's for Avengers: Age of Ultron, a Howard the Duck appearance, the tease of Hope becoming Wasp, and some fun gags. None of these moments, though, are anything beyond jokes or teases. Even Phase 3 to this point has mainly just been teasing what comes next for the respective heroes (ie: Doctor Strange in Thor: Ragnarok).

Related: Why Does Marvel Keep Spoiling Their Credits Scenes in Trailers?

As great as many of these post-credits scenes are, they stop short of showing major developments for the key characters. That isn't what Ant-Man and The Wasp did: Marvel didn't just make significant changes to the arcs of the lead heroes, but also teased the events of Avengers 4 in the process - making this an essential part of the story and one some could miss thanks to its placement.

Page 2 of 2: How Ant-Man and the Wasp Changed End-Credits Scenes (And Why)

Ant-Man and the Wasp Makes Major Character and Story Changes in Mid-Credits

As mentioned prior, there's several major developments that come out of Ant-Man and The Wasp's mid-credits scene. However, none of them are as big as the decision to effectively kill three of the main characters. Hope, Hank, and Janet all get dusted courtesy of Thanos, setting the stage for their absence in most of Avengers 4. The problem is, this is a completely different jumping off point to Ant-Man and The Wasp's actual ending. The movie itself closes on a positive note for all of these characters, meaning that the credits actually alter the arcs of key characters and overall mood of the film - something that becomes problematic when only part of the audience saw it.

Their deaths aren't the only changes though, as Ant-Man is now trapped in the Quantum Realm with no way out. Without Hope, Hank, or Janet to pull him back out of the microverse, that presumably means it'll be where Scott enters the fray in Avengers 4. While beginning in media res will no doubt quickly get casual audiences up to speed, it's an unavoidably big development to hide after the credits.

Speaking of the followup to Avengers: Infinity War, this scene also may set up some major ideas for Avengers 4. With Ant-Man trapped in the Quantum Realm, he may have years to explore and gain a better understanding of it and everything it holds; Janet blatantly name drops the idea of time vortexes prior to Scott going back into the realm, and it's already been theorized that these vortexes could be the key to Avengers 4's time-traveling story. There's a chance that all of this is covered (again) when Avengers 4 begins, but making it the film's actual ending would solve many of these potential problems and serve as the true wrap up to the characters' arcs.

Was Ant-Man and the Wasp Not Given a Cliffhanger Because of Infinity War?

Marvel Studios typically leaves audiences on a high after they've experienced a two-hour blockbuster full of action, heart, and humor. Those elements are all still part of Avengers: Infinity War, but it is a much more dour film overall. As it was the last movie to come out prior to Ant-Man and The Wasp, the decision to make the scene in question part of the credits could be as simple as Marvel not wanting to properly end two consecutive films on a cliffhanger.

Related: Is Thanos in Ant-Man & The Wasp's Mid-Credits Scene?

Ant-Man and The Wasp is similar to the original in its low-stakes, high-comedy approach too (something that made it an ideal Avengers: Infinity War follow-up). The franchise is the lightest to come out of Marvel Studios, so there may be some merit to the thought that the cliffhanger ending was nixed because it didn't fit with the tone of the rest of the movie. Even though the scene contains vital information for audiences about the film's main characters, there's a converse risk that it could've felt out of place, something that is considerably more detrimental in the moment.

When Avengers 4 rolls around next year and begins to pick up on the storylines that Ant-Man and The Wasp's mid-credits scene introduced, then maybe we'll have a better grasp at why this decision was made. Until then, it's a strange decision, one that is all the weirder when most Marvel fans would have been more than happy with a return to the giant ant playing the drums.

MORE: How Ant-Man & The Wasp Connects to Infinity War