When you think of influential storytelling in the visual medium, the ABC series Lost is up there. While the show’s reception ebbed and flowed, showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse not only executed a vision that took viewers down very deep sci-fi paths while remaining grounded, but they also negotiated an exit strategy, ushering in an era of “limited series” or shows with finite runs. ABC wanted Lost to run 10 seasons, but Lindelof and Cuse argued they only had a couple more seasons’ worth of story left to tell. In the middle of Season 3, after a much-maligned episode revolving around Jack’s tattoos, a compromise was made: the show would continue for three more abbreviated seasons before coming to a conclusion.
So when Evangeline Lilly was pitched the story arc for the Marvel Cinematic Universe sequels Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4, the Ant-Man and the Wasp actress felt something very familiar. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has described these two films as a finale, a conclusion to everything that came before, and Lilly tells Vanity Fair the idea of this massive change reminded her of Lost Season 4:
“When I heard about Infinity War and the direction that they’re heading, I did have this moment of realizing, oh, wow, there’s a bit of a déjà vu for me with the Lost franchise. We are hitting that [Lost] Season 4 space where everything’s about to shift, and you’re about to lose the solid ground underneath you. And [Ant-Man and the Wasp], of course, will play a part in that.”
The fourth season of Lost introduced the idea of flash-forwards after the Season 3 finale revealed that some of the castaways did make it off the island, only to find they have to go back. Season 5 famously introduced time travel to the series, and then Season 6 went with…well, somethin’. But there is a clear delineation point at the end of Season 3—everything before was grounded, with Lindelof and Cuse not wanting to show all their cards just yet, while everything after Season 3 was full-speed ahead on a sci-fi story that wasn’t afraid to get weird.
We can expect similar weirdness in Ant-Man and the Wasp, Lilly says:
“Those characters are experts in the quantum realm. In Ant-Man and the Wasp, they are trying everything in their power to safely enter the quantum realm and return back from it because they have evidence from the first film that Scott Lang was able to do that. If he can do it, why can’t we? If we do succeed in Ant-Man and the Wasp, then that does open a whole entire new multi-verse to enter into and play around in. I’m not the story creator, so I can’t tell you what they’re going to do with that. But I definitely see the potential there.”
Lilly also says she senses not just a shift in story and character, but also in tone ahead for the MCU post-Avengers 4:
“Frankly, if it wasn’t Kevin at the helm, I think I would be very, very nervous to be losing these pillars and the people who paved a way for characters like the Wasp. When he walked me through the general story arc of Infinity War, it dawned on me: oh, I understand now, we’re moving into this new Phase. The color of that new Phase can be clearly seen emerging through Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Thor: Ragnarok. It’s just a more colorful, more playful, heightened reality that we’re going to enter.”
That’s not to say all films going forward will be as playful as Thor: Ragnarok—and these Avengers movies are no doubt going to be quite serious—but after this saga wraps up and things go more cosmic, it might signal a shift to more heightened storytelling to offset the strangeness of it all.