Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man has been a hit with critics and audiences. While it’s opening weekend box office gross didn’t match up with its predecessors, it is making plenty of money globally having taken in over $133M in it’s first 7 days, meaning it’s already out-grossed its production budget. While we know that Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang is going to appear in next year’s Captain America: Civil War and that Evangeline Lilly’s Hope van Dyne will appear again at some point, the studios has yet to greenlight an Ant-Man sequel. Director Peyton Reed seeded the film with multiple ideas that could be explored in future films (and the MCU at large), leading to all sorts of speculation among the team here at the MCU Exchange. Here are 5 things we thought we’d like to see explored in a Payton Reed directed Ant-Man sequel.
Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp
This one is as obvious as they come. Evangeline Lilly’s Hope van Dyne spent the entirety of Ant-Man being kept away from her destiny. Only in the mid-credit stinger did she finally get some satisfaction when her father, Dr. Hank Pym, revealed the suit he and his wife, Janet van Dyne, had been working on. Marvel Studios’ President Kevin Feige has since revealed that while the plan was originally to have Hope reappear in Captain America: Civil War, they’ve now rethought when we’ll first see her don the suit.
Audiences have really seemed to like Scott Lang, but the partnership between him and Hope was under explored. While it will be great to see them both in action at some point in the future, we’d love to see Hope (in a redesigned Wasp suit) and Scott in some size-changing adventures in an Ant-Man and the Wasp sequel (my title, not theirs). Hope van Dyne is, for all intents and purposes, an open book. She isn’t based directly on any existing comic book character (though there is a Hope Pym in an alternate universe), so Lilly can make this character her own. HOPEfully we get to see that happen.
Hank Pym’s Search for Janet van Dyne
Throughout the film, Hank Pym gave us bits of information about why his wife, Janet van Dyne, was MIA. While working together for S.H.I.E.L.D., Janet seemingly made the ultimate sacrifice to stop a warhead from striking American soil. According to Hank, despite knowing the dangers of doing so, Janet turned off her regulator and shrunk beyond the point of no return. Hank goes on to state that Janet became lost in the Quantum Realm, a place from which he believed there was no return…until Scott Lang proved him wrong in the film’s climax.
Director Peyton Reed hinted that audiences should keep their eyes peeled while Scott was in the Quantum Realm, leading many to believe that we might catch a glimpse of Janet. Eagle-eyed viewers have claimed to notice a shadow in the background and though it’s nearly impossible to be sure, it is entirely feasible that it’s her. As Ant-Man closed, we saw Hank Pym seemingly rejuvenated in his desire to continue his search for the wife he believed lost. A sequel with parallel stories of Scott and Hope working together in this dimension while Hank searches for Janet in the Quantum Realm could be the kind of heavy science-fiction fare that could help Marvel Studios continue their expansion into multiple genres.
The only times we saw Janet in the film her face was obscured by some headgear, leaving future casting of the Winsome Wasp wide open. Michael Douglas has expressed his desire to see his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, in the role and Evangeline Lilly recently went on record naming Michelle Pfeiffer her favorite. Here’s to hoping we get to see anyone cast as Janet so we can see her and Hank, two founding Avengers in the comics, on screen together for more than a flashback.
More 80’s Ant-Man and Wasp
Speaking of flashbacks, Marvel has to find some way to fill in the further adventures of Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. For comic book fans, the little bit of Ant-Man and Wasp action seen in the film and the flashback scenes of a young Hank Pym were just a tease. While we want to see Hank searching for his wife in the present day, it’s damn near mandatory that we get more of Hank and Janet in their primes.
As I first hypothesized back in April of 2014, Hank Pym’s place in the MCU timeline saw him working alongside Howard Stark and Peggy Carter (and it’s still open to argument that he may have worked with robo-Zola and the treacherous Alexander Pierce. While the shrinking effects are too pricey for TV, there has to be somewhere that the adventures of Hank and Janet can be further explored.
HYDRA’s Pym Particles
Something easily forgotten in the film’s climax was that Mitch Carson, played by Martin Donovan, hit the bricks with a vial of Darren Cross’ Pym Particles. Given that Carson, a long-time Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., was revealed as a HYDRA mole, that’s probably not good news for the MCU.
We know HYDRA, though greatly reduced, still exists in the MCU. Grant Ward seems to be a big player on the TV side of things, but we are about to meet someone who is likely an even bigger part of the evil organization: Baron Zemo. One of our favorite, crazy theories around here is that Captain America: Civil War will either introduce or lead to the formation of the Thunderbolts, a team of super-villains, led by Zemo, who originally seem to be helping out only to be revealed as the baddies they are. One member of that team, Erik Josten, a former Marine under Zemo’s employ who eventually uses Pym Particles under the alias of Goliath. Scott Lang seemed to have cracked the ability to grow in Ant-Man’s 3rd act, opening the doorway for him to to appear as Giant-Man at some point in the future. The shrinking effects in Ant-Man gave us the opportunity to see some pretty intense fight scenes; it’s easy to get excited about the prospects of seeing Lang (or maybe Michael Pena’s Luis!!) and Josten go toe-to-toe as giants.
Of course there’s another option as to how HYDRA could use the Pym Particles. In the comics there was a third Ant-Man, an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. named Eric O’Grady. Given the shortened timeline of the MCU, it’s doubtful we’d see Scott Lang replaced so quickly by O’Grady. However, given HYDRA’s continued hold over S.H.I.E.L.D. (as demonstrated by Agent Carson), maybe we could see an Eric O’Grady with a little different backstory. It’s entirely within the realm of possibilities that O’Grady could be a HYDRA mole working under Carson and uses the Pym Particles and a new suit to be a thorn in the side of Scott Lang and Hope van Dyne. The character of O’Grady, thought dead, is slated to co-lead a new Illuminati book in the All-New, All-Different Marvel comics universe under the name the Black Ant. Maybe that’s in preparation for an upcoming villainous role or maybe it’s not.
Marvel Studios does love exploring villains with the same powers as their heroes so though it’s possible that Carson’s confiscation of the Pym Particles never leads to anything, it might be handy for HYDRA to have a size changer or two of their own. It’s not too far-fetched to imagine The Astonishing Ant-Man (our title, not theirs) seeing HYDRA teaming up with AIM to put Josten, O’Grady or both in the way of our heroes.
Ant-Man does not have the greatest collection of arch-enemies, however, while he’s not going up against Spider-Man’s gallery, there are plenty of villains that could pose some problems for the team of Pym, Lang and van Dyne. If not Josten and/or O’Grady, who else could cause trouble for our heroes?
If Marvel Studios does not wish to explore more size-changing villains in the sequel, there are a few directions in which they could go. Given Hank Pym’s deep scientific genius, it would certainly be possible that we could see the reappearance (and hopefully a good one) of Aldrich Killian’s A.I.M. While the A.I.M. we saw in Iron Man 3 was nowhere near the hive of scientists comic fans know it to be, an Ant-Man sequel could see the company restructured under Elihas Starr, the comic book villain known as Egghead. His scientific genius, specifically in the atomic (maybe sub-atomic) realm, could lead to conflict.
Of course it’s hard to talk about A.I.M without bringing up everyone’s favorite oddity, M.O.D.O.K. It’s difficult to imagine a way in which whatever M.O.D.O.K. is could appear in something as reality-based as the MCU, if there’s a chance it would have to revolve around the work of A.I.M. Though he wasn’t necessarily a main antagonist of either Hank Pym nor Scott Lang, seeing him brought to the big screen in a science-based Ant-Man sequel would be thrilling.
If A.I.M. presents itself in a sequel, it’s likely they’ll need some muscle to help them out. We can think of nobody we’d like to see in that role more than Taskmaster. Despite some uncertainty about his film rights, Taskmaster is the ultimate A.I.M. henchman and presents such a unique type of villain that the types of fight scenes Marvel Stuidos could put together makes for some exciting speculation.