Leading up to the release of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, theories were running rampant about how Earth's Mightiest Heroes would take down the Mad Titan Thanos once and for all. One of the most (jokingly) popular ideas centered around Ant-Man shrinking down and climing into the villain's anus before growing back to full size (or Giant-Man size just to make sure).
The theory, dubbed "Thanus," became an internet sensation with multiple memes doing the rounds. Now, five years after it originated, Disney and Ant-Man himself have acknowledged the theory in an unexpected piece of media: Avengers: Quantum Encounter for the Disney Wish cruise.
Quantum Encounter is a show that's part of "Worlds of Marvel," a dining experience aboard the cruise that features exclusive live-action sequences starring some of the MCU's most famous heroes, including Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Captain America, The Wasp and Ant-Man. It's one of those scenes that Marvel Studios took fans by surprise with by openly discussing the meme.
In a video featuring Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly as Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne, Lang greets the audience and addresses the "Thanus" theory (the full video of the experience tour can be watched on YouTube at this link):
"Hi, I'm Scott Lang, but you might know me as Ant-Man. [...] Look, before we start, let me address the elephant in the room. I've heard a lot of chatter out there asking why I didn't shrink down, go in and, uh... kill Thanos in a really creative way. First of all, gross. Secondly, it's much more complicated than that. Allow me to explain --"
The hero is promptly interrupted by Hope before he's able to continue. But there you have it, folks, Ant-Man himself has explained why killing the Mad Titan by crawling inside him was simply not an option.
For Paul Rudd, this is actually his second time discussing "Thanus." During an appearance in The Graham Norton Show to promote Avengers: Endgame, the actor was asked about the theory, to which he replied:
"Yeah, a lot of people have asked me recently if I shrink down and go — the theory is called the "Thanus Theory" — into Thanos in a certain orifice, and then grow giant-sized. [...] But why not the ear, or the nose? Why does it have to be...?"
"Thanus" has proven to have a surprising longevity. Even five years after its creation, The Boys showrunner Erik Kripke revealed to Variety that it inspired a key sequence in the Season 3 episode "Payback," which involved a superhero going into his lover's penis and accidentally killing him by growing large.
Pleasing a Fanbase
Mentioning "Thanus" in Quantum Encounter isn't the first time Marvel Studios and Disney have entertained superhero fans' desires. John Krasinski was brought in to play Dr. Reed Richards for a brief put pivotal scene in 2022's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, after years of viewers clamoring for him to take on the role.
In the Doctor Strange 2 director's commentary (via CBR.com), Director Sam Raimi commented on how fan-casting inspired Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige to bring Krasinski into the Marvel fold:
"It's so funny that [Feige] cast John, because the fans had a dream of who the perfect Reed Richards would be. [...] And because this is an alternate universe, I think Kevin said, 'Let's make that dream come true.'"
Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne will return to the big screen in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, scheduled to release on February 17, 2023. The Disney Wish cruise will set sail on July 14, 2022.