Ant-Man and the Wasp is now the 20th film released within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel Studios is now renowned for how well it pays tribute to the history of the Marvel Comics Universe, as well as how well the MCU holds together in relation to all of the interconnecting films. One of the ways that the MCU makes a point to honor the Marvel Comics Universe is to include as many subtle references to the comic books as possible. These films are made by people who really respect their source material and thus, even minor characters often not only have an origin in the comics, but typically an origin that directly ties them to the characters involved in the film.
Not only that, but these films are also very pop culture aware and commonly make very astute connections to outside films, like Spider-Man: Homecoming‘s references to Empire Strikes Back. At the same time, there are also Easter Eggs that hint at the future of the Marvel Universe. For instance, it was not until recently that people began to realize that Janet Van Dyne was actually visible in the Quantum Realm at the end of 2015’s Ant-Man. So there is a good chance that there are Easter Eggs hidden inside of Ant-Man and the Wasp that we will not know about for years to come. Still, there are plenty that we already have discovered. Read on for 20 of our favorite Easter Eggs and hidden references in the new hit film!
20. A FAMILIAR WARDROBE
The search for Janet Van Dyne in the film is very familiar to a storyline in Brian Michael Bendis’ Avengers run. You see, at the end of the crossover event, Secret Invasion, the Wasp had been turned into a living bomb by the Skrull invaders of Earth. Rather than blow up her friends, she had Thor send her energy into outer space where she could explode safely.
In actuality, she ended up shrinking into the Microverse. She lived on her own for months until the Avengers discovered the signal from her ID card. In the Microverse, the Wasp wore a very similar face mask, just as Janet did in the film.
19. HIDING IN THE MICROVERSE
One of the weird side effects of Marvel’s various licensing deals is that the Microverse, something that had been around in Marvel Comics since the early years of the Fantastic Four, was not actually called the Microverse until Marvel released a comic book series that was based on a short-lived toy line called the Micronauts.
Marvel later lost the rights to the Micronauts, such that now the Microverse has to be called the “Quantum Realm.” Still, it is basically the Microverse, so there likely are sentient beings living there, which is how Janet is still alive. When she and Hank leave the Quantum Realm, you can see what looks to be a city on their left.
18. THANOS IN THE CLOUDS?
As we noted earlier, the Quantum Realm is a perfect place to hide Easter Eggs seemingly in plain sight, as people tend not to pay much attention to the sparkly background of the Realm. It looks like a seemingly random collection of psychedelic imagery, but in reality, it was peppered with hidden references.
Similarly, at the end of Ant-Man and the Wasp, when Ant-Man goes to the Quantum Realm at the same time that the Thanos “snap” occurs, there is a quick glimpse of something in the background. Many fans insist that the flash of color was Thanos. Some say it is Dormammu. Either is possible, but it is clear that it was a reference to something. People’s Blu-Ray pause buttons will be worn out!
17. TRUE REHABILITATION
Just like the character in the film, Scott Lang in the comics is also a former convict. In the recent acclaimed comic book run by Nick Spencer on the character, he decides to open a new security business with some former supervillains that he befriended after he moved to Miami. The new business is called Ant-Man Security Solutions. They even have their own van!
The van makes its appearance in the movie, as well, only this time the security company is called X-Con. Presumably, in the MCU, Ant-Man being part of the anti-Sokovian Accords likely made him not popular enough to use for the name of a company.
16. TIM GETS HIS TURN
On Cinema is a popular comedic film podcast that has expanded to videos and even six seasons of an Adult Swim show. It stars Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington. In 2015, Turkington made an appearance in Ant-Man and he never let Heidecker hear the end of it.
Luckily for Tim, he followed suit by making a cameo appearance in Ant-Man and the Wasp as the tour boat captain at the end of the film who thinks that a “breaching” Giant-Man is actually a whale! The character is listed as Captain Daniel Goobler, and we would like to believe that Heidecker played a part in naming his character.
15. EGGHEAD IN THE FAMILY
The Ghost is an Iron Man villain in the comics and actually has never fought against Ant-Man. However, the Ghost is also not a woman in the comics. Ava Starr is a new creation just for the MCU. There is a notable connection to Ant-Man, though, in her backstory.
You see, in the movie, Ava’s father, Elihas Starr, is an old colleague of Hank Pym and Bill Foster who believes that Pym ruined his career. He did his own experiments in the Quantum Realm, which of course went horribly wrong, killing himself and Ava’s mother and turning Ava into a “ghost.” In the comics, Starr is the evil genius known as Egghead, one of Hank Pym’s few archenemies.
14. I’M NO FORTUNATE SONNY BURCH
Ghost is not the only Iron Man foe who has been repurposed for an Ant-Man rogue. The unscrupulous Sonny Burch also comes from Iron Man’s comic book series. Burch was the head of Cross Technological Enterprises and he wanted to become both the premiere weapons manufacturer in the world but also eventually the U.S. Secretary of Defense.
Tony Stark was in the midst of confirmation hearings to become the Defense Secretary himself when Burch exploited a technicality to steal Stark’s old tech to repurpose it into weapons for the government. However, his safety oversight was terrible and when his weapons ended up killing innocent soldiers, he took his own life in disgrace.
13. THE BALLAD OF GEOFFREY BALLARD
Probably the most obscure comic book character to show up in Ant-man and the Wasp has got to be Geoffrey Ballard. He is the FBI agent that is secretly leaking information to Sonny Burch. Cleverly enough, he actually first appeared in Black Goliath #4, the short-lived series starring Bill Foster. He worked for Tony Stark.
Later, he discovered a powerful weapon and decided to become a supervillain known as Centurion and fought against Ms. Marvel. Luckily, she had just joined the Avengers, so they showed up to help their new teammate. The Wasp was on the team, so she actually fought against Ballard decades before he betrayed her family in Ant-Man and The Wasp.
12. CASSIE WANTS TO GROW IN STATURE
Easily the most adorable scene in the film is when Scott Lang’s daughter, Cassie, tells him that he needs a partner watching his back. He assumes that she is referring to the Wasp, and when he realizes that she meant her, he laughs and her reaction is heartbreaking. Later in the film, Cassie notes that she wants to do what her dad does when she grows up.
Sure enough, in the comics, Cassie Lang did become a superhero during a period where her father was dead (don’t worry, he got better), joining the Young Avengers as the size-changing Stature. Then she died, too, but don’t worry, she got better, too. She is currently the hero known as Stinger.
11. HANK PYM SOLVES THE ENERGY CRISIS
A really cool part of the story was Hank Pym’s laboratory, which he kept in an office building that he would shrink down into a sort of traveling briefcase whenever he and his daughter had to go on the lam.
The coolest part of this is that since he was constantly growing and shrinking the lab, he could use both normal-sized machinery that he would shrink down as well as tiny items that he would grow. You can see a number of these household items mixed into the lab in the background. One of the most notable items was how he powered the lab using Duracell batteries that he grew into giant power sources.
10. IRON MAN KNOWS WAY TOO MANY PROJECTS
Being part of the MCU gives filmmakers a decade’s worth of backstory to tie into and often, it leads to the rare reverse Easter Egg. That is, a moment in an earlier film that only takes on significance based on a later movie. In this instance, the earlier film was 2010’s Iron Man 2.
In an extended scene available only on the home release of that movie, Tony Stark discovers that he is dying, as the metal used in his arc reactor is slowly poisoning him. He desperately looks through old projects to find something to help him. He tells his A.I., J.A.R.V.I.S. to,“Tap the Oracle grid. I need some things out of storage. Give me everything from Projects P.E.G.A.S.U.S., E.X.O.D.U.S. and G.O.L.I.A.T.H.” Talk about foreshadowing!
9. FAMILY IS BETTER THAN CGI
In the history of computer effects in films, one of the most famous breakthroughs, technology-wise, was the morphing technology used in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, that allowed the T-1000 to turn into other people. However, when it turned into Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor, special effects were not necessary, as they just used Hamilton’s twin sister, Leslie, to double for her.
Similarly, the computer effects in Ant-Man and the Wasp that de-aged Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer were excellent. With Laurence Fishburne, though, they also went old school with his flashbacks, as his son, Langston, played Bill Foster in the past. It worked really well!
8. STAN LEE’S PHARMACEUTICAL SECRETS
A common urban legend that you will often hear about many famous creations is that the people behind some of these ideas must have been “on something” to create such far-out ideas. Obviously, that sometimes is true, but once you are into your 40s, it is a lot less likely. So when you hear about how Scooby Snacks must be a reference to you know what, know that the creators of that cartoon were all well into middle age.
Stan Lee got plenty of those rumors himself over the years, and his cameo in Ant-Man and the Wasp played right into that, as he remarks at a shrinking car, “The ’60s were great, but now I’m paying for it.”
7. IT’S THEM!
When it comes to security in the film, Hank Pym makes sure to keep an Altoids tin filled with ants that will grow to giant-size when exposed to the air. They are more than a match for most humans with their giant mandibles that look like they can crush rocks.
In Ant-Man and the Wasp, when Hank pulls this trick on Bill Foster, Bill gives a dramatic shout of, “It’s them!” This, of course, is a reference to Them!, the classic 1954 science fiction film directed by Gordon Douglas where nuclear radiation has mutated ants into giant-sized killers that threaten all human life on Earth!
6. NO, SERIOUSLY, IT’S THEM!
At the end of the film, after Scott has successfully convinced the FBI that he has not violated his house arrest and he has been given his freedom, he celebrates by going to a drive-in movie with Hope and Cassie. Of course, the “drive-in” is actually just a laptop that they’re watching while sitting in toy cars while shrunken down.
The movie they are watching is Them!, but beyond the obvious bit about how they are both movies about ants, it is important to note that two of the most important characters in the film are Dr. Harold Medford and his daughter, Dr. Pat Medford. An old genius and his daughter? That is a very clever and obscure reference!
5. ANT MUSIC
Adam Ant was the lead singer of the British post-punk, new wave rock group, Adam and the Ants, who went solo in the early 1980s and had two top 20 hits in the United States, “Goody Two Shoes” and “Room at the Top.”
In the first Ant-Man, director Peyton Reed made sure to use the Adam and the Ants song, “Antmusic.” It seemed like there were no Adam and the Ants song in the sequel, but it turned out that Reed snuck a few chords from their song, “Ants Invasion,” into the film’s trailer! Reed confirmed the sneaky usage when a sharp-earred fan asked him on Twitter.
4. ENTERING THE MATRIX
This is remarkably enough the third superhero movie to feature Laurence Fishburne, although the first one within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He is probably still best remembered, though, for his role as Morpheus in the Matrix film trilogy. This film cleverly paid tribute to his earlier role.
When Hank, Hope and Scott visit Bill Foster at the university where he is a professor, they walk in while he’s in the middle of class. They get to hear some interesting concepts about alternate dimensions. He quickly dismisses his class. Behind him on the chalkboard is the word “matrix.” It is a real math term, but come on!
3. LEARNING YOUR LESSON
There is another chalkboard gag later in the film, when Scott reveals that he never threw away his original Ant-Man costume. They need it to find Hank’s stolen laboratory, but it turns out that Scott hid it in a trophy that Cassie bought him. However, she then took the trophy to school for show and tell. Scott and Hope sneak into the school to get it back, but in the process, Scott’s new suit malfunctions and he gets trapped as the size of a little kid.
2. BURNING THE BASEBALL CAP
When you have made 20 films set in a single shared universe like the MCU, there are bound to be certain recurring plot points that pop up. It is nearly inevitable.
In Ant-Man and the Wasp, they take center aim at one of these cliches in a hilarious reference to the previous films in the MCU. When Hank, Hope and Scott sneak on to university, they disguise themselves with baseball caps and sunglasses. Scott jokes about how terrible of a disguise that this is, but, of course, it is the disguise that all the heroes in the MCU use all the time, especially Captain America. Hilariously enough, Hank later uses that same disguise to sneak out of FBI custody.
1. GOING BACK TO COLLEGE
At the start of the film, Scott Lang has been under house arrest for nearly two years. He spends a lot of time just sitting around and watching old movies. However, for Peyton Reed, even seemingly throwaway scenes like Scott watching movies prove relevant.
Scott is watching National Lampoon’s Animal House, in a scene where some students are getting high with their professor. Larry says, “Okay. That means that our whole solar system could be, like one tiny atom in the fingernail of some other giant being. This is too much! That means one tiny atom in my fingernail could be–” “Could be one little tiny universe.” Hmmm… we wonder if that ties into the end of the film.
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