Ant-Man and the Wasp was an almost entirely self-contained movie, at least up until the credits, but could it be setting the stage for something bigger in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, such as the introduction of the Thunderbolts?
SPOILERS for Ant-Man and the Wasp follow.
Ant-Man and the Wasp introduced a new villain into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That villain is Ghost, played by Hannah John-Kamen. However, the MCU Ghost is significantly different from the Marvel Comics original.
The comic book version of Ghost is a corporate spy for hire who enjoys sabotaging the plans of the rich and the powerful. His Ghost suit allowed him to phase through solid matter and tamper with electronics.
The Ghost of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Ava Starr, the daughter of Elihas Starr, someone who worked with Hank Pym at SHIELD. After being fired from SHIELD - possibly because he was a traitor - Starr tried to continue the work independently, but his gateway into the Quantum Realm was flawed and exploded. Eva was the only survivor and the accident left her in a state of constant quantum phasing. SHIELD saw an opportunity in this and turned Eva into a covert agent, promising to help cure her condition.
But then SHIELD fell apart, leaving Eva on her own. In Ant-Man and the Wasp, it is revealed that Bill Foster, another former SHIELD colleague of Pym’s, has been helping Eva cope with her condition but that she won’t survive much longer. Luckily, Team Ant-Man’s rescue mission to retrieve Janet van Dyne, the original Wasp, from the Quantum Realm is successful. Janet is able to use the stored up quantum energy in her body to heal Eva’s condition, though there is still more work to be done before she’s fully healed.
Unfortunately, they don’t have much time since practically everyone involved in the mission is some shade of fugitive. Eva realizes that with all of the deaths on her hands from her days at SHIELD she can’t return to society. She goes on the run with Bill Foster.
So what’s next for Ghost? In the Marvel Comics Universe, Ghost was a member of a team called the Thunderbolts for a time, and Eva is in the perfect position to become part of that team for the movies. John-Kamen has even said that she's into the idea.
The Thunderbolts concept was originally created as a cover for the Master of Evil. The plan was to pose as superheroes to gain the trust of the general population before revealing themselves and taking power. However, many of the villains involved with the ruse found that being a hero was actually quite fulfilling and decided to continue on that path.
That version of the Thunderbolts eventually disbanded. During the Superhero Civil War, Tony Stark used a new team of Thunderbolts and other supervillains to help in the fight against Captain America. After that, the Thunderbolts took on a new shape as a government-sponsored team of supervillains either trying to earnestly redeem themselves or otherwise just looking for a way to stay out of prison, a concept very similar to DC Comics’ Suicide Squad. It is this version of the Thunderbolts that someone like Eva, who has nowhere else to go an is looking for redemption, would fit right into, perhaps even with Bill Foster on board as the team’s supervisor.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has several other members of the Thunderbolts already within its universe. Most notable is Helmut Zemo, the Sokovian who orchestrated the terrorist attacks on the United Nations in Captain America: Civil War. Zemo in the comics was the leader of the original Thunderbolts and is currently imprisoned in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Another comic book Thunderbolts member is Hawkeye. In the comics, Clint Barton took over as leader of the Thunderbolts after Zemo was ousted. Hawkeye tried to show the Thunderbolts how to be real heroes. A Thunderbolts movie with Hawkeye in the lead could be a great starring vehicle for Jeremy Renner in the MCU.
Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross is another former Thunderbolts leader. His was arguably the most star-studded Thunderbolts lineup, featuring Marvel antiheroes like Deadpool, Elektra, the Punisher, Agent Venom, and Ross himself as the Red Hulk. Even if Ross doesn’t become Red Hulk in the MCU, he could, as Secretary of State, oversee the Thunderbolts program, serving as the team’s equivalent to the Suicide Squad's handler, Amanda Waller.
Many of the characters from Ross's team are tied up in their projects, either on Netflix or as part of the X-Men or Sony movie universes, but another member of Ross’s team who was introduced and then forgotten in the MCU is Samuel Sterns, aka the Leader. Sterns’ transformation into the Leader was teased at the end of The Incredible Hulk but never followed-up on. Perhaps a Thunderbolts movie could reveal what happened to Sterns.
Lastly, there’s Crossbones, who was killed in Captain America: Civil War. That said, Crossbones actor Frank Grillo may be teasing a comeback.
Would you like to see the Thunderbolts form in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Who should be on the team? Let us know what you think in the comments!3comments
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Other upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movies include Captain Marvel on March 8, 2019, the fourth Avengers movie on May 3, 2019, Spider-Man: Far From Home on July 5th, 2019, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in 2020.