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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Fixes Ghost's Confusing Backstory

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Warning: Spoilers for Ant-Man and the Wasp.

Ant-Man & the Wasp introduces a new character into S.H.I.E.L.D. lore - but how does Ghost's story connect to Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? As any Marvel viewer knows, "it's all connected," or at least it's supposed to be. The TV shows exist in the same shared cinematic universe as the films themselves, although in practice the relationship tends to be rather one-way - the movies affect the TV shows, not the other way round.

The story of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra has been explored in detail in the ABC TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which launched in 2013, and introduced viewers to the organization's rich history, sophisticated technology, standard operating procedures, and sometimes explains what happens between movies. But that introduces a lot of potential problems when Marvel Studios choose to insert a character into S.H.I.E.L.D.'s history, because that could very easily contradict Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Fans of the series are particularly concerned over next year's Captain Marvel, which charts an early adventure of Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson, and could easily cause massive continuity headaches.

Related: The History of HYDRA in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Fortunately, in the case of Ghost, the character's backstory is actually deepened by a little Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. knowledge. Marvel Studios has kept everything just vague enough to allow viewers to put the pieces together. Let's explore Ghost's history, and show how she fits with everything we know of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Ghost's Origin Story Clashes With SHIELD

As we saw in a flashback scene, the young Ava Starr was exposed to a wave of quantum energy when her father's experiments went catastrophically wrong. It's difficult to pin a precise date on this event, but it's likely sometime around 1998 - the young Ghost is played by an eight-year-old actress, RaeLynn Bratten, while the present-day Ghost is played by 28-year-old Hannah John-Kamen. Regardless of the precise dating of these events, the exposure to quantum energy rendered Ava intangible. She was taken to a shelter, and it was there that Ava was approached by Bill Foster.

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According to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the organization kept a database of all powered people and objects, known as the Gifted Index. When a powered individual is located, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent is sent to conduct what's known as an "Index Asset Evaluation and Intake Report." It seems likely Bill Foster was actually the agent sent to conduct that assessment. He'd be a logical choice; not only is he already connected to S.H.I.E.L.D., but he's also one of the few people in the world who could possibly understand what it means to be exposed to forces from the Quantum Realm.

As revealed in the Season 1 episode Girl in the Flower Dress, once an assessment is complete, S.H.I.E.L.D. often assign a case worker to keep tabs on a Gifted individual. It's reasonable to assume that Foster was assigned to Ava, and that much of his research - including his building of the initial quantum chamber - was actually supported by, and even funded by, S.H.I.E.L.D.

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Related: The Significance of The Quantum Realm To The MCU’s Future

Ghost Becomes an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

S.H.I.E.L.D. has never been averse to deploying Gifted individuals in the field; the first Ant-Man film proved that, revealing that S.H.I.E.L.D. worked with Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne during the Cold War era. So it's no surprise that S.H.I.E.L.D. approached Ava with an offer once they deemed her old enough. They would continue to try to heal her "condition," if she agreed to work for them.

Dipping into lore from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it looks as though Ghost was trained as a Combat and Espionage Specialist. This kind of Specialist is typically something of a "lone wolf" operative, working without support or backup; classic examples include Black Widow and Grant Ward. If that's the case, it's likely only a handful of senior S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives even knew of her existence - and Fury may have chosen to restrict that knowledge due to his own agenda. Nick Fury isn't a man who trusts easily, and Ghost could be a useful asset for identifying traitors within S.H.I.E.L.D., or learning secrets that would give Fury leverage over his masters in the World Security Council. There's no explicit evidence to support that idea, but it's the most plausible scenario and certainly fits with Fury's character.

Page 2 of 2: Ghost's Story During Phases 1 and 2

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Key Release Dates
  • Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
  • The Avengers 4 / Untitled Avengers Movie (2019) release date: May 03, 2019
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019
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