Ant-Man spoilers below
It’s about damn time, indeed. Ant-Man will share top billing in his sequel with the Wasp in Ant-Man and the Wasp, which Marvel recently dated to come out July 6, 2018. If you’ve seen Ant-Man, this is great news. If you haven’t, well remember how the Terrance Howard James Rhodes has that moment in the first Iron Man where he looks longingly at a stray Iron Man suit and mutters something about, “Maybe next time.” Of course, he was referencing his future as Iron Man’s kidna sidekick War Machine, which Don Cheadle got to live out. Well, imagine if there had never been an Iron Man 2 or any future appearances for Rhodes. You would have felt a bit letdown, right? That’s roughly how it would have felt if Ant-Man’s mid-credits scene promising a future for Evangeline Lily’s Hope Van Dyne as the Wasp had gone unfulfilled.
But where do we go from here? Part of the challenge with adapting Ant-Man has always been his somewhat lackluster comic book history which is why the first film in this new arm of the Marvel Cinematic Universe borrowed some character background stuff from the comics and then shoved it all together in a mostly original heist movie. Hank Pym was aged up to retirement age and retconned into MCU history as a founding member of SHIELD alongside Peggy Carter and Howard Stark. Hope Van Dyne, a character from an alternate universe in the comics, was turned into the MCU’s version of the Wasp with her mother Janet killed off via a Cold War-era flashback. Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang was the only one who was more or less just like his comic book counterpart. The villain, Yellowjacket, is Hank’s former pupil losing hold of his sanity in the movie whereas in the comics Yellowjacket is actually a villainous identity Hank adopted after a psychotic break (Hank’s hard a hard, very weird life). Plus, Ant-Man’s biggest legacy in the comics, Ultron, was given to Iron Man in the movies.
The point in rehashing all of this is to remember that when contemplating where Ant-Man and the Wasp might go with its story it’s a bad idea to look to the comics for guidance. They’re mostly off-book at this point.
Or are they? The big hook at the end of Ant-Man is that Janet is probably not dead but trapped in the quantum realm (i.e., the place you go when you shrink even beyond being teensy tiny). We end the movie with Hope and Scott unaware of that but Hank clearly intrigued and possibly teetering over toward obsession. Brian Michael Bendis actually did something like that in the comics in Avengers #32-34 (2012). The Hank Pym-Ant-Man and Iron Man discover that long-since-dead Janet Van Dyne has actually been trapped in the microverse (the comic version of the quantum realm) for 10 years. They enlist the help of Thor and Captain America to go in and bring her back. Upon arriving, they discover an entire society of alien-like creatures inhabit the microverse, and they are ruled by a minotaur baddie named Gouzar who really does not like interlopers in his land. The Avengers get their butts kicked until they adjust to how things work in the microverse and then, you know, assembling and butt-kicking. Gouzar never had a chance, and it’s all fairly funny, especially with the way the microverse screws with Tony Stark’s ability to work the Iron Man suit.
They’re obviously not going to directly adapt that for Ant-Man and the Wasp. However, it does signal a possible direction they could go with it:
1) Hope and Scott navigate the murky waters of being a new couple as well as crime fighting partners, likely encountering multiple funny scenarios related to their shrinking abilities. Unbeknownst to them, Hank’s become disturbingly obsessed with retrieving Janet from the quantum realm, and when an accident either traps him in the realm or gravely injures him they have to go in and search for him and/or Janet.
2) Hank lets Scott and Hope in on his theory about Janet being alive, and Scott and Hope ultimately go in after Janet only to find her on the run in an alien society not unlike the one detailed in Avengers #32-34
SoGeekinAwesome pitched a variation on this:
The movie starts with The Wasp suit finished and Hope van Dyne fully getting to grips with the suit. Meanwhile, Ant-Man is still coping with the with the events of Captain America 3: The Civil War. As soon as Hope get’s the suit working, she pitches a crazy notion to Scott outside of the her father’s ear-shot. She wants to go find her mother in the micro universe and she’s wanted to do that ever since finding out about her fate. Maybe even at the start of the movie Hank Pym has new information about the Mirco Universe? Maybe he now has the ability to track her?
At first, Scott doesn’t want to do it. He know’s full well that Hank Pym wouldn’t want to lose his daughter in the same way he lost his wife. But Hope convinces him. They go into the micro universe and begin tracking Janet. They seem to be drifting forever, but then the signal get’s stronger. They begin to see land. LAND? They begin to see life. WTF? They find Janet trying to survive in a world full of aliens. Time is screwy there; only a couple of months have passed for her. She still has the suit and finds herself fighting another war in the micro-universe. After being convinced that Hope is her daughter and Scott is her husband Hank’s protege, she agrees to go back with him, but only after finishing the war she’s been fighting against the micoverse’s big bad.
They win and after a certain amount of drama, they return back to the normal universe the same way Scott did back in the first movie. Janet is still young compared to Hank. Maybe Hank announced at the start of the movie that Hank is dying and that his last wish would be to see his wife again. So they bring Janet back just in time to see him die.
3) Something totally different. The problem with making the sequel so much about the quest for Janet Van Dyne is that it might limit what they could do with Scott’s ex-wife, daughter and partners in crime, particularly Michael Pena. Similar to Kat Dennings from Thor to Thor: The Dark World, you’d generally expect that Marvel would reward Michael Pena’s scene-stealing in the first Ant-Man by giving him more screen time and jokes in the second one. However, what obvious purpose does he serve in what would essentially amount to Ant-Man: The Search for Janet? Maybe he’s their point person back in the normal universe on Earth, or maybe he gets shrunk down too and goes in with them and it turns into prison break story with Janet held hostage somewhere.
The first Ant-Man is a character-driven heist movie per-occupied with the shaky bonds between fathers and daughters and mentors and pupils. The highest stakes are emotional, and its plot most directly suggests two paths for a sequel: 1) Hope becomes The Wasp; 2) Janet is rescued from the Quantum Realm. Honestly, since I have no real attachment to Janet in the comics (and Hope seems like a suitable substitute) I’d personally prefer that an Ant-Man sequel be more like the first movie, but at this point it’s hard for me to imagine a scenario in which the sequel isn’t overly preoccupied with Janet and the Quantum Realm, especially since the Quantum Realm could yet prove to be important to Doctor Strange and Infinity War.
What about you? What do you want to see in Ant-Man and the Wasp? Do you have a totally different story pitch? Let me know in the comments.
This HalloweenCostumes infographic nicely walks through Ant-Man’s history (with a focus on his costume):