Marvel is getting to the bottom of an Avengers: Endgame fan theory about Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Thanos (Josh Brolin). In 2018, a fan theory-turned-meme dubbed the "Thanus Theory" probed how the size-shifting superhero could kill Thanos: by shrinking down, climbing inside the Mad Titan's butt, and growing to Giant-Man size. Marvel Studios officially addresses the theory in Avengers: Quantum Encounter, the new mini-movie teaming Ant-Man and the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) with Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani), and Captain America (Anthony Mackie) against Ultron (Ross Marquand) aboard the Disney Wish cruise ship.
"Let me address the elephant in the room. There's a lot of chatter out there asking why I didn't shrink down, go in, and uh... kill Thanos in a really creative way," Rudd's Scott Lang says in the video that has surfaced online. "First of all: gross. Secondly, it's much more complicated than that. Allow me to explain—"
Before he can, Lilly's Hope van Dyne interjects: "If only we had the time!"
"At [Walt Disney] Imagineering, we write the scripts for our show, and then Marvel brings in a writer to help us kind of punch it up and polish the dialogue. And so that was Michael Waldron," Danny Handke, Senior Creative Director, Walt Disney Imagineering, told Fandom of the Loki and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness screenwriter. "[Marvel Studios president] Kevin [Feige] brought in Michael to help us punch up our script, and he added that joke."
Handke explained, "Because this is one of Scott Lang's first speaking engagements, he's kind of super awkward at the beginning of the show. He's never spoken as an Avenger to a live audience before. And so [Waldron] snuck that joke in there because that nervousness kind of comes out as [Scott's] trying to explain, 'Okay, alright, let's get to this. Let's clear this up. Yeah, everyone thinks about this. It's not true.'"
While the joke addressing the "Thanus Theory" was scripted by Waldron, it was tweaked by Rudd, who reprises his role on the big screen in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. (The Disney Cruise Line-exclusive Quantum Encounter is set outside of official Marvel Cinematic Universe canon.)
"Paul goes, 'Oh yeah, I know about the meme.' He did it in his own way, because he's an improv mastermind," Handke said. "His delivery's spot on. I'm so happy that that's become the thing everyone's talking about. I didn't expect that!"
The Disney Wish cruise ship sets sail on July 14. Marvel's Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is scheduled to open in theaters on February 17, 2023.