Thursday, July 30, 2015

Ant-Man's MCU Future

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Ant-Man gave us a lot of information.  I mean, a lot.  It wasn’t nearly as much as Avengers: Age of Ultron, but it was still a lot to take in.  Most of it was connected to the story at hand, but like all Marvel movies, Ant-Man also gave us a few clues about what could be coming down the pipe in Ant-Man’s future appearances as well as in the MCU in general.

This week I’m going to go through some of what Ant-Man gave us in terms of the MCU, as well as possibilities for an Ant-Man sequel.

Warning:  this post will contain spoilers for Ant-Man!  If you haven’t seen the movie yet, what’s wrong with you?  Go to right now, find a show time, see the movie, and then come straight back here!  (In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not getting anything from Fandango… though if they wanted to send me free tickets, I would not complain!)

Civil War Tie-In

There were three scenes with Sam Wilson in Ant-Man (including the post-credits scene), and all of these scenes give us clues toward Scott Lang’s role in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War.  In the first scene, Scott meets Sam at the New Avengers Facility and the two of them fight.  My biggest take away from this scene is that Ant-Man has the ability to go toe-to-toe with Avengers-level heroes and survive.  The next scene is at the very end when we find out that Sam has been trying to track Ant-Man down ever since their fight.  What he wants him for is not explored in the scene, but the odds seem pretty good that Sam wants to recruit Ant-Man to help the Avengers out.  Additionally, because Sam is the one recruiting him, I suspect that Scott Lang will be on Cap’s side in Civil War—at least at first.

The final direct Civil War tie-in comes in the post-credits scene, which has been confirmed to take place at some point during Captain America: Civil War.  In this scene, we learn that Sam and Cap have found Bucky, they can’t go to Tony for help, and they are instead going to call in Ant-Man to help them out.  What they will need him for is unclear, but it probably has something to do with Bucky—and by extension with Hydra.  My guess is that they are going to use Scott to infiltrate a Hydra base and find information clearing them of any wrongdoing in whatever incident caused The Accords to happen.

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Janet might still be alive in the Microverse/Quantum Realm

As you may remember from my article last week, Janet Pym appeared in a single flashback scene in costume as the Wasp alongside Hank Pym’s Ant-Man.  However, Janet was lost on that mission when she shrunk uncontrollably and disappeared into the Quantum Realm.  Since then no one has heard from her.

During Ant-Man, however, Scott succeeded in entering and leaving the Quantum Realm, so it is possible that Janet is still alive and could possibly be rescued.  I think this could play a major part in the (inevitable) Ant-Man 2.

On that note, we should talk about the possibility of Ant-Man 2.  As of now, there is no sequel on the schedule (and Michael Douglas is reportedly not under contract for any more movies).  However, there are several loose ends which could feasibly be tied up by a sequel.  So unless Ant-Man fails to make back its budget (which I fully expect it to do—it’s already made almost $114 million domestically, to say nothing of the international markets), there will be a sequel at some point.  I don’t think they will wait until 2019 after The Inhumans to release it, either.  Looking at the release schedule for Phase 3, there aren’t too many obvious holes after July 2016.  However, if Marvel chooses to squeeze a sequel in, there are still a few options.  The first is to experiment with a September release date in 2017 (between Spider-Man at the end of July and Thor: Ragnarok at the beginning of November)—perhaps Labor Day weekend.  The second is another experiment:  a January or February 2018 release date.  That might be a riskier proposition, but if Deadpool performs well with a February 2016 release date, I think Marvel Studios will be more willing to test a February release date for themselves.  Regardless, I don’t want to see Ant-Man 2 push any of the other movies back from their release dates—I’d much rather get a fourth MCU movie one year!

Hope is the New Wasp

At the end of Ant-Man, Hank showed Hope an advanced prototype Wasp suit which he and Janet had been working on before her accident.  However, he has decided that it is time for Hope to have the prototype suit.  In other words, Hope is going to become the Wasp!  And according to Kevin Feige, she will be suiting up some time in Phase 3.  Now the only question is:  When?

There are several options, of course, so let’s run down some of them.

Chronologically, the first option is Captain America: Civil War, alongside Scott Lang’s Ant-Man.  However, the powers that be have stated that appearing in Cap 3 would really be doing Wasp a disservice because it’s already really crowded.  The next option is Spider-Man—Ant-Man and Wasp could be the characters borrowed from Marvel Studios to lend “Avengers-cred” to the Spider-Man reboot.  A third possibility is Avengers: Infinity War, but since those movies look to be really crowded also, it wouldn’t make much sense to hold her out of Civil War and have her debut in an Infinity War.  Fourth, she could debut in Captain Marvel and team up with Carol Danvers (and perhaps She-Hulk and Jessica Jones) in an A-Force-inspired team-up movie.  Fifth, she could suit up alongside Scott in an Ant-Man 2 released in either 2017 or 2018 (see above).

A remote possibility would be for Hope to make her debut as Wasp on the small screen with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., perhaps as part of a storyline dealing with the next item on our list—but I’m not holding my breath.

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Hydra now has Pym Particle Technology

At the end of the movie, ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. agent (current Hydra agent) Mitchell Carson escaped from Pym Technologies with a vial of Darren Cross’s version of Pym Particles which he stole off the body of a security agent.  From this, it is entirely possible that Hydra could discover how to reproduce the Pym Particles and create their own Pym Particle-powered suits.

This could have major ramifications for the entire MCU, and will almost certainly come into play down the line as Hydra’s current form becomes more defined.  Will this become an issue in Captain America: Civil War as part of Baron Zemo’s plan to discredit and destroy the Avengers?  Could it appear sooner than that in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3, with Ward’s Neo-Hydra group getting their hands on the Pym Particle and using it to infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D. and attack the Secret Warriors?  Might they decide to save it for Ant-Man 2?  Any of these three places seem like valid avenues for exploring this loose end.

Of the three options, I think my preference would actually be for it to be explored on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. if it isn’t a major part of Captain America: Civil War.  Size-changing could certainly account for whatever tragedy leads to the call for superhero registration in Civil War.  However, that movie might already be too big for this to be given its due.  Ant-Man 2 is definitely the most logical place for this to come up again, but if it does I think it would run the risk of turning into a rehash of the original:  Ant-Man has to steal a suit, destroy Pym Particle research, and defeat another size-changer to keep the world from devolving into chaos.  I think Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would be an excellent place for this concept to be explored:  It would give AoS a major tie-in with the movies (similar to Captain America: The Winter Soldier), it would introduce size-changing to AoS (paving the way for other size-changers to appear on the show, including characters like Amazon and Reptil), and this would let this loose end receive its due treatment rather than squeezing it into an already-busy movie like Civil War.

Bonus Round:  Cassie Could Gain Great Stature in the MCU

If you read my overview of characters who use Pym Particles (or just know the comics), you know that Cassie Lang is one of them.  Growing up, she dosed herself with Pym Particles stolen from Scott’s utility belt without his knowledge.  Over time, her body developed the ability to generate Pym Particles by itself, changing her size based on her emotional state.  She was involved in the 50 States Initiative after the Superhero Civil War—and that included a full-on giant-sized brawl at the Camp Hammond hero training facility between herself and Eric O’Grady (the third Ant-Man) after he made a disparaging comment about her (at the time dead) father.  That brawl was only broken up by the timely intervention of a giant Hank Pym.  She was also a member of the Young Avengers, adopting the codename Stature.

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

In Ant-Man there really isn’t that much to foreshadow Cassie’s future at giant size.  In fact the only possible tease I saw was the ant that Scott expanded to gigantic size and which Cassie adopted as a pet.  That doesn’t mean anything, though; after all, the girl is only about 6 in the movie (note:  I didn’t look this up until after the fact, but the girl actually was 6 when they filmed it), and she’s a teenager when she starts her hero career.  Regardless, if Cassie does become Stature at some point in the future—probably in Phase 4 (repopulating the MCU) or 5—I will not complain one bit.  If nothing else, it would give her character a little more depth than “I’m adorable and I love my daddy!”

I even thought that the actress (Abby Ryder Fortson) did a decent job as Cassie, so I don’t think they’d necessarily need to recast.

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This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the hints at the future of the MCU that we can find in Ant-Man.  And I probably got a few things wrong in my analysis.  So let me know in the comments what you think about Ant-Man and what you want to see from that “world” going forward in the MCU.  Do you want to see Cassie become Stature a few years down the road?  When do you want to see Hope make her first MCU appearance as the Wasp II?  How do you think Janet will return to the normal realm?  Is there anything I missed?

Ant-Man is very good as a standalone movie, but there are still a few things that can give us hints at what’s going to come.  And from what we’ve seen, the future looks very bright for Scott Lang’s Ant-Man.

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