13 'Ant-Man' Easter Eggs and References to Marvel Comics, The Avengers, and...Spider-Man!
By John Boone
If we’re not mistaken, Ant-Man contains the first reference to Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s basically common knowledge at this point that Spidey will make his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War next year -- the role has officially been cast, so he can! -- but he seems to get a little head nod here. Welcome home, Peter Parker!
That and 12 more Easter eggs and tidbits you may not have caught, below.
(WARNING: We’re diving deep into SPOILER territory. If you have not seen Ant-Man yet, leave your computer, go to your local movie theater, watch the movie, and then come back and read this post.)
1. “Tales to Astonish”: While Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) discusses rumors of an Ant-Man superhero going on missions during the Cold War, he has a passing line calling them “Soviet propaganda” and “tales to astonish.”
Hank Pym -- the original Ant-Man -- debuted in 1962 in the comic Tales to Astonish #27, “The Man in the Ant Hill.” “That sold so well that I thought making him into a superhero might be fun,” Stan Lee later explained.
Hence, Pym’s return in Tales to Astonish #35, “Return of Ant-Man.”
2. San Quentin State Prison: Some guessed Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) would serve his time at Seagate Prison -- the prison from Marvel's One-Shot All Hail the King -- and hoped another famous Seagate inmate, Luke Cage, would cameo, but Ant-Man uses the more geographically appropriate San Quentin.
That said, there is a comic book antihero who has been locked up at San Quentin: Frank Castle a.k.a. The Punisher. Now that Jon Bernthal has been cast as The Punisher for Netflix’s Daredevil, maybe we’ll revisit San Quentin someday.
3. The Milgrom Hotel: The complex that Scott crashes at after he's released from San Quentin is named after longtime Marvel writer, artist, and editor Al Milgrom. Fun fact: Milgrom was fired from Marvel after inking “Good riddance to bad rubbish, he was a nasty S.O.B.” in a “Universe X: Spidey” comic after former Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras left the company.
4. Agent Mitch Carson:Martin Donovan’s role was kept under wraps as long as humanly possible. Now we know he plays Mitchell Carson. In the movie, he’s an old adversary of Hank Pym’s (Michael Douglas) from their days working at S.H.I.E.L.D. in the ‘80s. In the present, he’s a suit, interested in buying the Ant-Man tech. In light of the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it’s no surprise that we later learn Carson is HYDRA.
(Side note: When Cross reveals that Carson is HYDRA, he says, “The research they’re doing is very interesting.” Could more experimentations like the ones that lead to Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch still be taking place?)
In the comics, the character is also a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent gone bad, but his story is completely different. Carson is set to inherit the Ant-Man suit, before it’s stolen by future Ant-Man, Chris McCarthy. (There are four different Ant-Men in the comics. Don’t stress over it.) Using his own, makeshift suit, Carson goes after the real tech and ends up severely burned after a fight. Ultimately, he’s thrown in jail by Iron man.
5. The Ten Rings: This one’s a little complicated, especially because it doesn’t factor into Ant-Man too significantly. (Hey, it’s an Easter egg.) Remember the terrorist organization in Iron Man that kidnapped Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and is the reason he ever creates an Iron Man suit in the first place? And then in Iron Man 3, we find out their leader, The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), is just an actor named Trevor Slattery? And then in the one-shot All Hail the King (see: no. 2), we find out there is a real Mandarin out there and the terrorist group is still active, albeit in secret? That’s The Ten Rings.
One of the businessmen that visits Pym Tech to bid on the Ant-Man tech has a “Ten Rings of the Mandarin” tattoo on his neck. Which means they’re still out there, somewhere...
6. The Wasp: Fans were (understandably) upset when they learned Janet van Dyne, a.k.a. the Wasp, a.k.a. one of the comics' founding members of The Avengers, had apparently been killed off the Marvel Cinematic Universe before the events of Ant-Man.
Alas! She’s alive! Probably! And we even got to see her in action in her Wasp costume! The movie reveals Janet actually worked with Hank when he was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and “died” while dismantling a nuke during the Cold War. Or, she’s trapped in the Quantum Realm -- where time doesn’t pass, so when she’s finally released, Marvel can cast whichever hot, young actress they want. We never saw her face, did we?
7. The Microverse: By the time Ant-Man gets around to introducing the Quantum Realm, it has sufficiently out-weirded even Guardians of the Galaxy. Lang goes “subatomic” in the last act, and we’re treated to an homage to the Disneyland attraction Adventures Through Inner Space. (For more Disney, see also: No.12.)
The Quantum Realm exists in the comics too, but it’s called the Microverse and has its own group of superheroes called the Micronauts. Here’s an explanation of the Microverse from the Marvel Wiki:
“A dimension that can be reached from the Earth dimension by compressing one's own mass to a certain point, thereby forcing it through an artificially created nexus into the other universe.” We told you it was weird.
8. Hope van Dyne: Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) doesn’t actually exist in the comics. Hope Pym, on the other hand, does. In an alternate future, where she’s still the daughter of Hank and Janet, but has a twin brother, Henry Pym Jr. and becomes a super villain known as the Red Queen. Oh, and get this: She starts a super villain group known as the Revengers.
Unless Ant-Man 2 goes completely sideways, we won’t be seeing Red Queen anytime soon. Instead, the mid-credits scene finds Hank Pym revealing a secret workroom to Hope, with an “early prototype” for the Wasp suit. “We were building it for you,” he says. “About damn time,” Hope responds. And thus, we demand the sequel be titled Ant-Man & The Wasp.
9. Yellowjacket: Darren Cross uses rudimental Pym research to develop his own Ant-Man suit and become the villainous Yellowjacket. In the comics, the Yellowjacket suit is actually one of Hank Pym alternate outfits and codenames. A comic villain named Rita DeMara does steal the suit from Pym to join the Masters of Evil, but ultimately she turns good too and joins the Guardians of the Galaxy.
As for Cross, in the comics he’s a self-made millionaire with a heart condition -- he invents a pacemaker that gives him superhuman abilities -- who runs his own company, Cross Technological Enterprises. We get a nod to the latter, when we see a model for a revamped Pym Tech called Cross Industries. (Unfortunately for him, both the model and the actual Pym Tech building are destroyed before he can get his name on the sign.)
10. Cassie Lange: Scott’s daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), is a child here, but in the comics, teenage Cassandra starts stealing Pym particles and eventually develops the same shrinking and growing powers her superhero dad has. As the superhero Stature, she joins a group called the Young Avengers. Keep an eye out for that in Phase 6.
11. The Avengers: Age of Ultron: When Scott asks Hank Pym why they can’t call The Avengers to stop Cross, Pym responds that The Avengers are busy “dropping cities out of the sky,” an obvious callback to the events of Ultron. R.I.P. Sokovia!
Pym has a hatred for Tony Stark in particular, stemming from a dispute with Tony’s father, Howard (John Slattery) that occurred in 1989. “I’ve kept it away from one Stark, I'm not giving it to another,” Hank barks about the Pym particle at one point. We have a feeling this, along with that final end credits scene, firmly cements Ant-Man on #TeamCaptainAmerica for Civil War.
There’s also the entire sequence set at Stark’s new Avengers Compound -- where Lang and Sam Wilson a.k.a. Falcon (Anthony Mackie) duke it out -- which was introduced at the end of Ultron.
12. Disney: From the studio that brought your Ultron the killer robot singing “I’ve Got No Strings,” comes Luis (Michael Peña), the comedic relief in Ant-Man, whistling “It’s a Small World,” the maddeningly catchy theme song for the Disneyland ride of the same name. FYI, Disney owns Marvel Studios. Synergy!
13. Spider-Man: In the very last scene of the movie, Luis recounts to Scott that Sam Wilson is looking for him. During one inquiry, Falcon asks about a “guy who gets small” and is told, “We got guys who jump. We got guys who swing. We got guys who climb up walls.” That has to be a reference to our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man (to be played in the MCU by Tom Holland), right?
And none for Oscorp, goodbye!
Now, find out how funnyman Paul Rudd got buff to play Ant-Man: