The Marvel Cinematic Universe has shaken off its reputation for not having intimidating villains, thanks largely to the depictions of Killmonger and Thanos. One franchise that hasn't gotten the memo, however, is Ant-Man, which so far has relied on C-list antagonists.
As fun as it is watching Paul Rudd's Scott Lang and Evangeline Lilly's Hope van Dyne save the day with their ragtag allies, both of director Peyton Reed's film lacked any sort of intimidation factor from their foes. Yellowjacket in the first film and Ghost and Goliath in the sequel fell flat. However, a third movie has the perfect opportunity to give us Ant-Man's greatest villain ever: Hank Pym.
That's right, as Ant-Man, Hank's biggest enemy has always been himself. Now, in the MCU, Scott Lang was chosen as the big screen version of the hero not because fans were acquainted with him as a successor to Hank in the books, but mostly because Hank was a bit problematic, having an abusive past and a streak of toxic masculinity. That said, this threequel might be the last shot for Reed to finesse a truly badass villain and seeing as Yellowjacket's already been used, they would have to use a different approach for making Hank an adversary. Ant-Man 3 could see Hank become a villain in terms of philosophy rather than being someone in a suit, fighting and cursing superheroes.
It helps that Ant-Man's rogues gallery is, well, slim pickings, so Reed can use Hank and focus on him as a Tony Stark-like figure along the lines of what Joss Whedon did in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Tony invented the evil A.I. in the film, instead of Hank who did so in the pages of Marvel Comics. However, this is a second chance to have Hank go insane and want to put his own suit of armor around the world. After all, he was constantly at odds with Tony's dad, Howard, during their early SHIELD days, so this could be Hank perfecting what the Starks failed to do.
To add fuel to the going insane fire, with Hank, Hope and Janet all being snapped away by Thanos, it's plausible that Hank returns from the afterlife a changed man. Coming back from the dead could turn into a PTSD story and rather than have something like alcohol or an ego haunting him, Hank could be tortured by that tragedy. This is a chance to let the creeping fear of losing his loved ones to terrorists, from both on and off-planet, take over, paving his descent into madness. Not to mention, he spent time in the Quantum Realm in the second film, so it's unclear how his brain processed both events, which could leave Hank fuelled by desperation to find a solution so that nothing ever hurts his family again.
It might even be something similar to the Ultron program or who knows, maybe the MCU can retcon things such that the initial designs for the A.I. went from Hank to the Starks. This could give Hank a proper bite at the Ultron cherry, making a story more loyal to the source material. Most of all, it'd make the film emotionally impactful because the fallout from the characters would be immense. Janet and Hope would lose their patriarch and the man who's been their rock, whether they like to admit it or not, while Scott loses his father-figure and mentor.
In superhero films, we know that age-old adage from The Dark Knight rears its head more often than not -- "You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain!" -- and in Hank's case, it could add nuance to his character and bring his story full-circle. Usually, the trajectory's the other way around, with a reprehensible character redeeming themselves at the end, but with Hank, flipping that script and showing his devolution into a monster, albeit one obsessed with good intentions, would be thoroughly more engaging. It'd also make him relatable and sympathetic, cutting a forlorn figure who just like his comic counterpart wants to use his genius to make his world a better place, even if no one else agrees with his methods.
Ant-Man 3 will reportedly premiere in 2022 and be directed by Peyton Reed. Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly are expected to reprise their roles from the previous films.