When Marvel Studios unveiled their lengthy film release plans for Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe six months ago, it was revealed that Phase 2 would not be concluding with Avengers: Age of Ultron. Instead, Ant-Man will represent the final Phase 2 chapter, paving the way for Captain America: Civil War to begin the next age.
It's a different model than how the transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2 was treated, with the first team-up of The Avengers rounding out that first segment of Marvel's never-ending long-term story plans. So, for fans looking for Ant-Man to serve as a bridge between the catastrophic events of Age of Ultron and the heroes-vs-heroes theme of Civil War, it won't. At least, that's not it's purpose.
Kara Warner spoke to Kevin Feige on behalf of Screen Rant and asked him this very question, whether or not Ant-Man is helping connect the two ensemble films together, but that's not really what that project is about.
"Ant-Man does a little bit. What it mainly does is introduce another aspect to the cinematic universe, with Hank Pym and his Pym particles, and the shrinking technology, and his lineage within the Marvel universe in the '60s and '70s and '80s which we explore a little bit. And certainly, with getting to know Scott Lang and seeing how he could become the most unlikely Avenger.
So, it pretty much is about that story but you'll see very clearly where that lays in between those two films."
Our friends at /Film also asked about Ant-Man and its position in the timeline, and Feige explained that the "Phases" aren't really beginnings and endings in a strict sense.
"It’s not [an after thought]. The truth is the phases mean a lot to me and some people but… Civil War is the start of Phase Three. It just is. And Ant-Man is a different kind of culmination of Phase Two because it very much is in the MCU.
You meet new characters and you learn about Hank Pym and his lineage with the MCU over the years. But at the same time, it also picks up the thread of Age of Ultron in terms of heroes – major heroes, Avengers – coming from unexpected places. Whether it’s prison in the case of Scott Lang or being a very disgruntled Sokovian Twins as Wanda and Pietro are in Age of Ultron. And in that way it connects a lot.
Also, Hank Pym’s attitude towards Avengers, towards S.H.I.E.L.D, and kind of the cinematic universe in general, is much more informed after the events of Age of Ultron, and in a certain way, before the events of Civil War."
Ant-Man simply does what its title implies, and introduces another classic character(s) into the MCU. Ant-Man is quite unique in the comics due to the fact that several different characters have wielded that power and title (and the film explores two most prominent of them), and what makes the film different is two-fold: it explores bits of MCU history between WWII and present, touching on the origins and development of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers through the history of an older Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas), and it also explores the idea of superheroes with family.
Ant-Man is the first Marvel movie where the protagonist has a child. In fact, both leads have a daughter in Ant-Man and there's a mentor-mentee relationship between Pym (Douglas) and Lang (Paul Rudd) which is also a new dynamic for Marvel to play with.
Lang is an ex-con and with the Ant-Man suit he can bring a different set of skills and background to the Avengers roster should he get recruited during Phase 3. There's also the potential for Evangeline Lilly's Hope Van Dyne to become a version of the Wasp, another founding member of the Avengers in Marvel Comics. Can you picture Lilly and Rudd as members of The Avengers?
The next evolution of the Marvel Cinematic Universe brings a founding member of The Avengers to the big screen for the first time with Marvel Studios’ “Ant-Man.” Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.
Marvel’s “Ant-Man” stars Paul Rudd as Scott Lang aka Ant-Man, Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne, Corey Stoll as Darren Cross aka Yellowjacket, Bobby Cannavale as Paxton, Michael Peña as Luis, Judy Greer as Maggie, Tip “Ti” Harris as Dave, David Dastmalchian as Kurt, Wood Harris as Gale, Jordi Mollà as Castillo and Michael Douglas as Hank Pym. Directed by Peyton Reed and produced by Kevin Feige, Marvel’s “Ant-Man” delivers a high-stakes, tension-filled adventure on July 17, 2015.