Ant-Man hits theaters on July 17, and fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are certain to be looking for how Scott Lang's origin story connects to the larger world. I'm happy to report that not only is the film delightful, but Ant-Man connects to Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in several ways that are fun but not too overwhelming. It definitely has a well-defined place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Not only does Hank Pym make passing references to "his S.H.I.E.L.D. days," but the events of the film could affect the ABC series for Season 3. This is a fun trend and one of the things that makes Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. great. It's so engaging to think about how the Marvel movies and Marvel series will connect. One thing that's different this time around is that since Ant-Man is released in the summer during the hiatus, we won't know exactly how Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will react until much later. However, here are a few references and ways that they could pull it off.
Warning! This post contains major spoilers for Ant-Man and the post-credits sequence. If you don't want to be spoiled, get out of here faster than you can say "Darren has a little lamb." However, if you've already seen it or if you ambivalent about this whole "Honey, I Shrunk Paul Rudd" film and wouldn't mind a few spoilers to convince you to buy a ticket, come along with me.
"Not the Same" Hydra
Darren Cross, the film's villain, partners with some Hydra business men but insists that they're "not the same Hydra" and actually doing some really interesting experiments these days. First of all, I'm pretty sure Hydra is Hydra, even after they were discovered in Winter Solider and momentarily defeated in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Second of all, what experiments? Is he talking about the Twins, or something more recent?
What is Hydra up to this time, especially with Grant Ward in a leadership position? If it's a new project, I'm sure it'll become Director Coulson's problem when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns for Season 3.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is doing a really good job of filling in backstory that spans decades without overwhelming the viewer. Hank's first run as The Ant-Man was during the The Cold War, one era of S.H.I.E.L.D. history that we don't know too much about. Now that Ant-Man is out there, could we be in for some more flashbacks on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as a way to expand further? Also, given this history and without giving away too much, I'm not surprised that Scott Lang is, as of the post-credits sequence, connected to the Winter Soldier as well.
All Types of Powers
At the end of the film we get our first ever official canon MCU reference to Spider-Man. Wahoo! However, I also think this connects to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. due to growing nature of this Universe and the number of powerful people that we're seeing. The Avengers, as Hank Pym points out, are busy "dropping cities out of the sky." They don't even know about Inhumans yet. Good gracious.
To be fair, the flashback material connects more to Agent Carter. We actually see Peggy Carter in the first scene of Ant-Man, and the first season of Agent Carter set up some of Marvel's Soviet villains. However, that Ant-Man scene takes place in the late 1980s, while Agent Carter is still several decade behind in the post-World War II era. Would I love to see a young Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyme join the "Peggy & Jarvis Are Quite British, Rather" Variety Hour? Absolutely. Is there precedents for it? Sure! I've been gunning for Wasp on Agent Carter for a while.
However, there's one pretty key reason why I think my dreams have been dashed, and it's the biggest spoiler yet. We learn in Ant-Man that there's a pretty good chance that Janet is alive in the subatomic state and probably hasn't aged. Not only that, but the only two times we see her are in a full-body suit and in a photograph — where she has on a big ol' hat that obscures her face. This screams loud and clear to me that they are leaving casting options open, and probably not for the ABC series.
Images: /ABC; Giphy (4)