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Friday, July 24, 2015

Ant-Man's Role in Marvel Phase 3

So, given that Ant-Man’s been out for a week now I think it’s fair enough to dive into the minutia of his film and what the tells us about Marvel going forward and where he and his supporting cast will most likely pop up next.  This means this blog post will have spoilers for Ant-Man so if you’re still unsure on the film, first go read my review of it, then go see it, then come back here to see where all that’s going and will pop up next.  

With how little fan fair has been paid to them lately it’s easy to forget that Marvel has 3 more Netflix shows in the pipe line over the next year and a half.  This is probably because Daredevil came out of nowhere to blow us away and we’ve all grown a little burnt out on Marvel’s vastness and continuity after it didn’t amount to much in Age of Ultron.  However, even accepting all that I still think there’s a good chance Ant-Man will show up in Luke Cage.  Luke Cage’s whole story is the hero for hire, a man sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit, that may not be the exact same as Scott Lang but it’s on harmony if not on melody.  What’s more both men sort of move in the same circles and it’s incredibly easy to imagine Scott somehow coming into contact with Luke Cage through one of his various criminal buddies. 
I don’t think his role would be a big one per say, but he’s a good character to get involved.  His powers are actually pretty easy to write around so they can be shown on a television budget and Paul Rudd isn’t as in demand these days as previously.  What’s more Luke Cage usually finds himself involved in some non-standard hero activity and it doesn’t get more non-standard than Ant-Man’s approach to activist heists and Robin Hood thievery.  Finally Ant-Man is one of the only Marvel heroes who’s actually grounded and down to Earth enough to adequately fit into a show like Luke Cage’s universe.  I wouldn’t bet on seeing Wasp or Hank Pym there though, they overall seem a little too legitimate to fit into Luke Cage’s world of sordid crime.  Though depending on the timing of the Luke Cage show this could be how his character makes it into Civil War, speaking of which.  

Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang Ant-Man character is already thoroughly locked in to appear in Marvel’s upcoming Captain America film.  We’ve already seen this connection thanks to the Falcon sequences in Ant-Man and the second credits teaser involving Cap himself.  This seems to be part of the film’s plan to include as many Marvel heroes as possible to try and create a greater sense of division between the superhero community, after all if the film was just Cap and Iron Man fighting it’d hardly be much of a “civil war.”  At the same time it helps to have as many heroes as you can when the competition if something as massive as Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. 
Still I don’t expect a big Ant-Man role in Civil War so much as a pivotal one.  Most likely he won’t be involved in any of the big punch ‘em ups but rather, as the teaser suggested, there to help steal/rescue Bucky, the Winter Soldier.  That’s a good way to keep the character around while playing to his weird strengths.  Ant-man’s weirdness and limited ability would make him a great shock appearance, popping up out of nowhere via size changing to glibly announce his zany identity.  As far as whose side Scott will be on that’s a tough call.  With his record and Hank Pym’s stated disdain for Tony Stark it’s hard to imagine him going that way but Scott’s main deciding factor will be his daughter.  He wants so much to be a hero in her eyes I could see him trying to use a partnership with Iron Man to gain legitimacy and greater impact on Cassie’s life. 
Hank Pym is another matter and probably a good indicator of how Marvel can have its cake and eat it too with the Ant-Man characters in Civil War.  We already know the Wasp is waiting in the wings and given fan reaction to her absence from Ant-Man I strongly suspect she’ll pop up in Civil War.  She’ll most likely side with Cap given her previous role subverting authority but the real wild card here is Hawkeye. 
It was painfully clear in Age of Ultron that Hawkeye’s idyllic family were pretty much just set-up to get killed down the line and it’s easy to see how that could push him into Cap’s corner for Civil War.  The thing that people forget is that Hawkeye wasn’t always Hawkeye in the comics, for quite awhile in Marvel’s history he assumed the new heroic mantel along with actual super powers, namely the ability to grow to giant size using Pym particles as Goliath.  It’s super easy to imagine Hank Pym handing over some of his particles for Hawkeye to breakout in a major battle sequence.  

Now that Ant-Man has finally come out Dr. Strange is probably the riskiest Marvel project between now and the next Avengers flick.  It’s also the only non-sequel movie coming out in that gap as well.  So far details about the film have been pretty scarce aside from the basically confirmed casting of Bennedict Cumberbatch as the title character and the row over Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One.  One major thing we do know is an early statement by Marvel Studios head and key producer on all the Marvel projects Kevin Fiege that Dr. Strange would continue the path that Thor blazed by blending its emphasis on magic with some science.  He’s specifically compared the film to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos with a particular emphasis on quantum mechanics. 
That particular drop should set off all the alarm bells for careful viewers of Ant-Man because it sounds like Dr. Strange will be intimately involved with the Quantum Realm that was introduced here.  Given how trippy and 2001: A Space Odyssey those sequences of Ant-Man were it makes sense that Dr. Strange might go in that direction.  The big question this raises, however, is whether or not Janet van Dyne will somehow be involved in Dr. Strange.  We know she’s not necessarily dead just shrinking indefinitely and considering how negative the reaction to her absence was it’d be easy to imagine Marvel having her return somehow in Dr. Strange, especially if it turns out there really is enough demand for an Ant-Man 2.  It seems pretty clear Marvel gets that people like the Ant-Man characters and want to keep them around and this seems like a pretty neat way to do it.  

After her actual cameo in Ant-Man, Hank Pym’s established adventures during SHIELD’s past, and the numerous comic book prequels to the film that feature her prominently this should come as no surprise to anyone.  As I mentioned in the Luke Cage section Ant-Man’s powers are actually fairly easy to do on a small screen as a lot of the action can just be things breaking by themselves or people getting punched by invisible force.  Having Agent Peggy Carter team-up with old school Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne would be a great and easy way to keep these characters in the public mind and Marvel universe while also wedding them to one of Marvel’s major success stories of the year. 
At the same time this would be a great way to solve a lot of both Ant-Man and Agent Carter’s problems.  On the Ant-Man side this would help them actually get the Wasp out there on screen without needing to wait for Civil War or Dr. Strange to do it.  On the Agent Carter side, Wasp’s involvement could play well into her story about carving out a powerful role for women in a male dominated society.  At the same time, as much as I like Agent Carter, a spy show in a superhero universe can only last so long before it needs a costume character or two to pop up and this is as easy a solution as possible for getting around using characters in the show that Marvel might want to have saved for the movies.  Finally this would bring a superhero married couple dynamic to the screen and that could be really interesting depending on when in Agent Carter’s history they decide to have them appear.  

The major consensus going around with most film and comic geeks is that come Infinity War part 1 all the original Avengers will somehow be out of action.  Things already seem to be heading that way now; Hulk is in the wind, Thor is about to deal with his world’s apocalypse event, Iron Man will undoubtedly end up a pariah after Civil War, and there’s a major theory Captain America could end up dead or sidelined like he did after the comic’s version of Civil War ended.  That would only leave Black Widow and Hawkeye to pick-up the pieces and it’s pretty easy to see them throwing up their hands and letting a new generation deal with it.  That’s part of the significance of the ending to Age of Ultron, we’re already moving towards an all new Avengers line-up and it’s only a matter of time before we’re there completely. 
This is where Ant-Man comes in.  Given that, so far, most of the new Avengers are pretty serious characters like Iron Patriot, Scarlet Witch, and the Vision, it’s easy to imagine Marvel slotting Ant-Man onto the team as the much needed comic relief.  What’s more Hank Pym could easily fill the role of billionaire financer that would be left after Iron Man’s departure.  All around it seems like Ant-Man’s 2 dads could easily fill the gap Tony’s complete departure form the team would make.  The Wasp is also a pretty rock solid addition given all the intimations that this team is meant to be a more diverse and inclusive band.  Of the revealed members so far we’ve got both of Marvel’s predominant black characters and their 2 Earth bound women as well, so adding Wasp to the team is a real no brainer. 

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