Ant-Man has officially wrapped up the MCU’s Phase Two. So as we prepare to jump into Phase Three next year with Civil War, let’s examine how this story ties into everything else going on in this rapidly expanding universe.
Ant-Man opens with Hank Pym’s resignation from SHIELD. You may have noticed a very familiar looking building in the establishing shot. That structure (still being built at the time) is the Triskelion, the SHIELD headquarters that is destroyed in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
The scene itself also features a couple of very familiar faces. Hayley Atwell and John Slattery reprise their roles here as Peggy Carter and Howard Stark, two of the three founding members of SHIELD.
As we learn later on in the film, Hank Pym was hired as a superpowered agent of SHIELD (almost an early precursor to Nick Fury’s Avengers Initiative), but resigns after finding out that Howard Stark was attempting to reverse engineer his Pym Particle formula, the substance that allows him to shrink and enlarge objects.
The third member of SHIELD leadership present is Mitchell Carson, the head of defense for the organization, but more on him in a bit.
San Quentin State Prison
So far, when villains in the MCU are jailed, it’s been at Seagate Prison. Both Justin Hammer and Trevor Slattery were doing time there after their arrests (prior to the latter’s kidnapping of course). In Ant-Man though, Scott Lang is sent to the very real facility of San Quentin.
This makes sense given the film’s San Francisco setting, but may also be hinting at the debut of another major character next year. In the comics, the Punisher did time at San Quentin after being convicted of the murder of Spider-Man. Coincidentally, the Punisher will be making his first (actual) MCU appearance on the next season of Daredevil.
Captain America’s Super Soldier Serum directed the course of the MCU for decades. The hunt for the formula and attempts to recreate it led to everything from the Hulk, to Centipede, to Extremis, and beyond. Considering how much more objectively powerful Pym Particles are, it stands to reason that another science-based arms race is about to begin, this time based around Hank Pym’s breakthrough.
While Darren Cross’s Yellowjacket suit, and all of the files and research pertaining to it, were destroyed, Mitchell Carson was able to escape with a vial of Cross’s formula. Unlike the various Super Soldier Serum knock-offs though, Cross’s take on Pym’s research seems to be just as good. That means a working vial of Pym Particles is currently in the hands of HYDRA, something that will definitely have to be addressed in a future movie or arc of Agents of SHIELD.
A Familiar Green Soda
Glad to see these guys are still in business (somehow).
Howard Stark’s Old Warehouse
One of Ant-Man‘s most memorable sequences is when Scott Lang is sent to retrieve one of Hank Pym’s old inventions, currently mothballed in one of Howard Stark’s old storage facilities. Following the events of Age of Ultron though, that facility isn’t exactly being used for storage anymore. The scene seems to confirm the theory that Tony Stark had donated the land to Captain America’s New Avengers (given he would have owned it beforehand), converting it into a high-tech base of operations for the team.
We also got to see the Falcon back in action, leading to his rather embarrassing introduction to Ant-Man (and more than likely, the latter’s role in Civil War next year).
At some point during Hank Pym’s time as a SHIELD agent, his wife Janet van Dyne became his field partner, donning a Pym Particle-powered suit of her own and taking on the moniker of the Wasp. She was ultimately killed (or maybe not…) during a mission in 1987, when she disabled her regulator in order to go subatomic and stop a missile headed for the US.
A suit she was working on with her husband survived though, and was passed on to her daughter, Hope. A post-credits scene implies that Hope will be taking up her mother’s legacy as the Wasp, becoming a superheroine in her own right.
Marvel hasn’t revealed exactly when the new Wasp will be joining the fight, but Kevin Feige did tell Slashfilm that it would happen in Phase Three, sometime after Civil War.
Mitchell Carson, HYDRA, and the Ten Rings
Mitchell Carson is the former head of defense at SHIELD, who later gets into the business of “toppling governments.” Carson seemed like a pretty shady fellow from the start, but the reveal that he was working for HYDRA was still pretty surprising given how completely that organization seems to have been squashed. It’s likely that he was a HYDRA agent all along, one of their deep cover sleeper agents like Alexander Pierce. However, that still leaves a lot of questions on the table.
The last we saw of them, Grant Ward was trying to pick up the pieces, following the death of the last remaining head of HYDRA at the hands of Ultron. So is Carson working for Ward? Is he leading his own faction of HYDRA? And in either case, who’s funding them? They’re throwing around a ton of money to get first access to Darren Cross’s Yellowjacket tech, where is that coming from?
Another interesting tie-in is the fact that some of the men accompanying him have Ten Rings tattoos on their necks. The Ten Rings are an ancient terrorist organization, the same one that kidnapped Tony Stark in the first Iron Man. Years later, Adrich Killian would co-opt the imagery of the Ten Rings (including hiring an actor named Trevor Slattery to masquerade as the Mandarin, the leader of the organization) to hide the existence of his Extremis project.
As it turns out though, the Ten Rings are still very real, and their agents later kidnapped Slattery from Seagate Prison as retribution for besmirching their name.
Could the Ten Rings be working with HYDRA? Or perhaps someone is pulling the strings of both organizations (the real Mandarin?). Either way, their continued presence seems to indicate that they still have a role to play in the MCU.
The Quantum Realm
The point of the regulator on the Ant-Man suit is to prevent the wearer from shrinking too much. Without it, you could potentially go “subatomic,” entering what Hank Pym calls the “Quantum Realm.” This is a dimension where time and space become irrelevant, and until Scott Lang managed to return from it, was believed to be inescapable.
Many fans believe that this alternate dimension may tie into next year’s Doctor Strange film, introducing us to the source of that character’s power. The MCU has been very careful to give all of the “magical” elements in its stories a technological explanation, so it would make sense to tie Strange’s mystical powers into something we’ve already seen.
Additionally, there’s a bit of an easter egg hidden in the Quantum Realm sequence. Director Peyton Reed told fans to keep a sharp eye out during this bit, as there was “something or someone” hidden in it. Well if you look closely, there appears to be the shape of a human figure about halfway through Scott Lang’s trip.
Some fans have been speculating that this could be Janet van Dyne, trapped in the Quantum Realm, but still alive nonetheless. Others believe it may actually be Eternity, a Marvel Comics character who is literally the abstract concept of time and space given physical shape. Eternity is a character who has crossed paths with Hank Pym before, and also played a big role in the Infinity Gauntlet comic book event, a storyline which the Infinity War movie will likely be drawing some inspiration from.
One idea that’s being bounced around a lot lately is a combination of the two, theorizing that Janet van Dyne herself has become Eternity, due to the decades she’s spent trapped in the Quantum Realm.
Everyone’s favorite webslinger gets a brief tease towards the end of the film, when a reporter mentions that there’s a ton of new superheroes popping up… “we’ve got one that jumps, we’ve got one that swings, we’ve got one that crawls up the walls.”
Spider-Man is set to (finally) make his first MCU appearance in Civil War next year.
Who’s to Blame for Sokovia?
There are a ton of references to the Avengers in Ant-Man, and most of them aren’t so positive. Hank Pym obviously has a bone to pick with the Stark family, and remarks that the Avengers are probably too busy “dropping cities out of the sky” to help them out. This is a clear reference to the events of Age of Ultron, and reflects what seems to be a widespread sense of uncertainty over whether or not the Avengers handled that situation correctly.
For example, earlier in the film when Scott Lang is riding Antony for the first time, they zip through a streetcar where someone is reading a newspaper. The headline on the paper reads “Who’s to Blame for Sokovia?”
All of this is paving the way for Captain America: Civil War next year, when the independent nature of the Avengers is called into question by world governments.
And speaking of Sokovia… the final post-credits scene in Ant-Man is actually an early look at a scene shot for Civil War itself. In it, we see that Captain America and the Falcon have managed to track down and capture Bucky Barnes, the former Winter Soldier. Cap mentions that they couldn’t call in Iron Man to help because they’re unsure what the “Accords” would allow him to do.
Fans have tied this scene to a mysterious teaser image that was posted on Twitter, with many interpreting it to be the “Sokovia Accords.”
We’re not sure exactly what these Accords state, but it’s very likely that it’s legislation dictating how the Avengers can operate, and who they answer to. This will be at the crux of Civil War next year, with Captain America and Iron Man opposing each other on whether to enforce or to resist these new laws.