It isn’t every day that Marvel Studios adds another superhero to its cinematic universe, and with the arrival of Ant-Man comes the opportunity for even more connective tissue between heroes, villains, the comics, and the past and future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And as usual, the filmmakers didn’t disappoint when it came to fun (or borderline trivial) nods and references to the comic book source material and ties to the larger MCU.
Needless to say, there will be SPOILERS in our list of Ant-Man easter eggs and trivia, so read ahead at your own risk.
MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW
Despite the brilliance of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), a flashback sequence in the film’s opening shows not everyone at S.H.I.E.L.D. saw eye-to-eye. Butting heads with Peggy Carter and Howard Stark, Hank lets his frustrations out on Mitchell Carson (Martin Donovan). He would later return to be revealed as a HYDRA agent, but comic fans could have predicted his turn. In the comics, Mitch Carson was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who hunted down Eric O’Grady’s ‘Ant-Man’ after he was disfigured by the ‘hero’ in a fight – eventually revealed to be a corrupt agent.
“Tales to Astonish”
When Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) first reveals classified footage of Ant-Man’s (Hank Pym) earlier adventures, he admits that the legend of the miniature hero was cast aside as mere gossip. Or, in his own words, “tales to astonish.” The turn of phrase is no coincidence, since “Tales to Astonish” was a very real comic series from Marvel. The sci-fi anthology featured the first appearance of Hank Pym in Issue #27, and his emergence as Ant-Man in Issue #35 (not to mention Wasp’s debut in Issue #44).
After Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) loses his job at Baskin Robbins, he returns to the apartment shared by his soon-to-be gang. The couch he’s surfing in The Milgrom Hotel may not be an ideal living situation, but the name carries some weight. The building is a clear nod to comic book writer, artist, inker and editor Al Milgrom, who lent his talents to a number of Marvel titles before taking over as publisher, including “The West Coast Avengers”.
It isn’t a quest for money or action that pushes Scott Lang to wear the Ant-Man suit, but the chance to make a better world for – and build a relationship with – his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). She may be decades from adulthood, but comic fans know Cassie will one day follow in her father’s (tiny) footsteps. After years of secretly exposing herself to the mysterious Pym Particles, Cassie acquires the same ability to grow or shrink in size, taking the name ‘Stature’ as a member of the Young Avengers.
There aren’t many celebrity cameos in Ant-Man‘s first film, but fans of Saturday Night Live and 2 Broke Girls will notice that the car Scott eventually lands upon during his first shrinking experience belongs to actor/comedian Garrett Morris. It was actually Morris who first portrayed Ant-Man in live-action – as part of a superhero costume party skit on SNL.
Who’s to Blame For Sokovia?
There are several explicit references to other Marvel heroes in the film, but not every one is called out. When Scott uses the Ant-Man suit to escape from jail, his ant-stallion Antony leads him onto a streetcar, landing upon a commuter’s newspaper. The pair are soon swatted away, but not before the paper’s headline can be glimpsed: “Who’s to blame for Sokovia?” The title is a reference to the destruction seen in the climax of Avengers: Age of Ultron, and hints that an anti-superhero sentiment may already be growing as the road to Civil War is being paved.
Once Hope (Evangeline Lilly) finally convinces Hank to explain what really happened to her mother, Janet, her father spills the beans. During a mission back in 1987, Janet van Dyne – acting alongside him as the superheroine Wasp – shrunk well beyond what her suit’s regulator allowed in order to bring down an ICBM headed for America. A similar fate actually befell Janet in the comics, as she mysteriously disappeared during the “Secret Invasion” series. Hank later learns – just as he does in the film – that Janet did not die, but slipped into a Microverse (or “quantum realm”).
The Ten Rings
It wouldn’t be a true tale of Marvel Universe terrorism without The Ten Rings; the group responsible for kidnapping Tony Stark in Iron Man, and the group headed by the Mandarin (the villain of Iron Man 3… depending on who you ask). When Darren Cross is shown entertaining potential buyers for his Yellowjacket armor, one man can be seen with the group’s logo tattooed on his neck.
So Much For an “Empty Warehouse”
Less of an easter egg, and more of a connection to the surrounding Marvel Cinematic Universe that casual fans might have missed. When Hank informs Scott that they’ll be stealing a bit of Stark tech from his storage facility in Upstate New York, he should be right. Unfortunately, the destruction of Avengers/Stark Tower in Age of Ultron led to the construction of the New Avengers Base in the same location. Which means Cap, Vision, War Machine, and Scarlet Witch may have been on the other end of Falcon’s (Anthony Mackie) radio.
The armor developed and worn by Darren Cross may seem like standard fare for superhero movies, but in the comics, Yellowjacket was originally the name held by Hank Pym. not his enemy. In fact, it was just one of several name changes Pym would go through, likely tied to the personality disorder he suffered from through much of his comic history (perhaps explaining the bottle of prescription pills Hank turns over when passing through a Pym Technologies metal detector).
It’s a Small World
Although his partners warn against it, Luis (Michael Pena) can’t help but whistle to blend in when pretending to be a Pym Tech security guard. The tune he whistles should be familiar to every Disney fan, as the theme song to “It’s a Small World (After All)”, the infamous water ride seen at every major Disney park and resort.
Stan Lee Cameo
Legendary comic creator Stan Lee makes his usual cameo, this time appearing as the bartender in the closing scene (with Luis offering a speedy breakdown of his conversation). Whether or not Lee really did find the woman in question “stupid fine,” it’s nice to see one of the hero’s creators alluded to in the movie. And with Scott’s false name while working at Baskin Robbins shown to be ‘Jack,’ iconic writer and artist Jack Kirby may also get a nod.
In Luis’ story, a character also makes mention of a few other superheroes now operating in the MCU. Specifically, one who can jump, one who can swing, and one who “crawls on walls.” Although Marvel boss Kevin Feige previously stated that the descriptions were intentionally generic, the new deal between Sony and Marvel makes this – in the eyes of many fans – the first nod to Spider-Man in the MCU.
After spending most of the film demanding to wear the Ant-Man suit herself, Hope is treated to a far more fitting surprise in the film’s mid-credit sequence. Hank reveals the suit that both he and his late(?) wife were developing to his daughter, revealing his plan to have her inherit her mother’s Wasp moniker just as Scott has inherited his own. The suit bears little resemblance to the comic version – red, yellow and blue instead of black and yellow – but does sport the wings that set Wasp apart.
The Winter Soldier
The final post-credits sequence offers a twist that fans drawn solely to Paul Rudd or Ant-Man will have trouble making heads or tails of. It’s actually a scene taken from the upcoming Civil War, in which Sam Wilson and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) finally capture the Winter Soldier a.k.a. Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). It’s hard to know how the scene will fit into the larger movie, but offers a tease of Marvel’s next phase nonetheless.
In the same scene, Sam and Steve discuss bringing Tony Stark in on their discovery, but rule it out almost immediately. Even if Tony was able to offer his assistance, they’re not sure that “the accords” would allow it. We’ve offered speculation on just what the characters could be referring to, but suffice to say that legislation keeping Steve and Tony from working together in policing superhumans is yet another hint at how the “Civil War” storyline will be adapted to the MCU, pitting the two heroes against eachother – whether they like it or not.
Those are all the tiny easter eggs and references we’ve been able to spot so far, but if you have more, be sure to leave them in the comments. If you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss details about the film without worrying about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, please head over to our Ant-Man Spoilers Discussion.
MORE: Ant-Man End Credits & Captain America 3 Connections Explained
Ant-Man is now playing in theaters.