Warning: Major SPOILERS for Avengers: Infinity War
Thanos sent a finger-snapping shockwave through the Marvel Cinematic Universe at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. It's the biggest moment in the MCU's history, and one that Ant-Man & The Wasp and Captain Marvel should address.
After all of the build-up to Infinity War, Marvel Studios left audiences on their biggest cliffhanger yet. Thanos successfully acquired all six of the Infinity Stones, allowing him to execute his plan to rebalance the universe; with just the snap of his finger, the Mad Titan wiped out half of the population across the universe. The act resulted in high-profile heroes from the MCU like Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and most of the Guardians of the Galaxy all disappearing into thin air. Those vanishings were just a few of the ones audiences saw, but the devastation took place throughout the entire of the cosmos.
It is a moment that will absolutely be central to the story of Avengers 4, and may even be tied to why some characters get involved. Hawkeye, for instance, is set to become Ronin, possibly because of the death of his family. Marvel's slate, however, has allowed them to not have to deal with the repercussions of these disappearances for a full year; two movies come before Avengers 4, but both have a simple get out.
Ant-Man 2 and Captain Marvel Take Place Before Infinity War
Marvel Studios has made it very clear that their next two movies take place prior to Infinity War, but just how far in the past they each take place is where the projects differ. Ant-Man & the Wasp explores the fallout of Captain America: Civil War; Scott Lang is under house arrest thanks to a plea deal with the government and Hope van Dyne is all-in on trying to rescue her mother, the original Wasp, from the Quantum Realm. Neither of the heroes are involved in Infinity War, something the marketing is already having fun with, and the indication is this will be filling the gap between Civil War and Infinity War ahead of the titular duo joining the Avengers in the next film.
Captain Marvel, on the other hand, is set back in the 1990s, with Brie Larson's Carol Danvers the very first superhero Nick Fury ever meets. Set photos have so far focused primarily on Captain Marvel's time being a hero on Earth, but the movie will also tackle the Kree-Skrull war. Naturally, the placement in the MCU's timeline frees up director Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck to tell the origin of Captain Marvel without dealing with major MCU continuity, but the post-credits scene for Avengers: Infinity War showed Fury reaching out to Carol. This connects Captain Marvel more directly to the present, with it being Thanos' conquest that brings her to the Avengers.
Both these films, then, may be set before Infinity War, yet have an intrinsic link with the future. Their placement in the slate is no accident, and so we must ask why? Will they address Thanos' cull?