Now that Avengers: Age of Ultron has made its $1 billion at the global box office, Marvel Studios is ready to officially close the curtain on their Phase 2 next month when Ant-Man is released in theaters. And even though the film will primarily be an origin story setting up Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and introducing a new hero to moviegoers, it will still have the customary "shared universe building" obligations many a Marvel production have had over the years. That's one of the reasons why it had a script rewrite as original director Edgar Wright left the project.
We know that Rudd will be showing up again in next year's Captain America: Civil War, but there's another newcomer to the MCU fans are a little more excited about seeing: Spider-Man. Ever since Disney/Marvel and Sony announced their deal to allow Peter Parker to take part in the Avengers franchise, fans have been clamoring for any reference to Your Friendly Neighborhood ahead of his live-action debut (thought to be in Captain America 3).
As it turns out, Ant-Man may be the first time we get some hints about the web-slinger's existence in the larger world. Marvel is still in the process of conducting screen tests to determine which actor will don the red and blue tights, so Peter himself won't be making an appearance (not even in a post-credits scene). However, there's ample opportunity for some Easter eggs as they work on implementing another character.
According to Latino-Review, there are "lots of" nods to Spider-Man and OsCorp in the version of Ant-Man we're all going to see this July. They wouldn't elaborate past that, but one of their hypotheses is that Norman Osborn's company will be one of the ones Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) tries to sell the Ant-Man/Yellowjacket weapons technology to. This would be an organic place in the film to place such a reference, as it wouldn't be too distracting from the story and be a fun moment for the die-hards eager to see Spider-Man go into battle with Iron Man.
Now, some of you may be wondering how the Ant-Man writers were able to allegedly include several Spider-Man related Easter eggs in their script, when the Marvel/Sony deal was announced well after Ant-Man had wrapped production. However, it's been revealed that Marvel had intended all along to use the wall-crawler in their Phase 3, so perhaps different versions of certain scenes were penned in case the agreement fell through. From the sound of it, these Easter eggs aren't exactly instrumental to the Ant-Man plot, so they're most likely just brief lines of dialogue to let casual viewers know what's coming (i.e. the mention of Stephen Strange in Captain America: The Winter Soldier).
It's not exactly surprising that this is (apparently) the case, especially after Age of Ultron did not find the time to pay reference to Spidey. The studios will want to build anticipation for the character's ultimate reveal in the near future, and with Ant-Man tracking much lower at the box office than your typical Marvel release ($58 million opening weekend as of this writing), this would be a clever way to get people to make the trek to the theater to see the littlest Avenger in action. Even if it's just an acknowledgement of OsCorp, anything Spider-Man will send audiences into frenzy.
Of course, this rumor comes with the pesky "unconfirmed" label, meaning that this may be all smoke and no fire at the end of the day. Given Marvel's penchant for teasing, the safe money is on them placing a Spider-Man Easter egg or two, but until Ant-Man actually comes out, nobody can say for sure. As the old saying goes, we'll just have to wait and see.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron is now in theaters, followed by Ant-Man on July 17 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017, Spider-Man on July 28, 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 on May 4 2018, Black Panther on July 6 2018, Captain Marvel on November 2 2018, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2 on May 3 2019 and Inhumans on July 12, 2019.