Warning - Mild Spoilers!
Ant-Man and the Wasp does a good job of sprinkling in some larger mysteries of the Marvel Cinematic Universe into its standalone story - enough to keep fans speculating, but not so much as to distract from or drag down the film.
Case in point: Walton Goggins appears in the Ant-Man sequel as Sonny Burch, a black market tech dealer. Burch claims to be working for some "very dangerous people" as he double-crosses Hank Pym and Hope van Dyne, hoping to steal Pym's miniature lab and tech for his bosses. Burch and his goons are ultimately thwarted by Ant-Man and the Wasp, but one of the lingering mysteries of the film is who, exactly, Sonny Burch was working for, and why they wanted that Pym tech so badly.
Read below for our best theories:
The first guess is of course one biggest (and shadiest) players in the MCU tech arms race: Justin Hammer and his Hammer Industries business. Hammer has been quietly gaining in the tech race since that early embarrassment trying to mimic the Iron Man suit in Iron Man 2, building new weaponry based on alien tech after the Battle of New York. If Hammer really wanted to finally edge out Stark Industries, getting his hands on Pym Tech would be the key.
Comicbook.com's own Brandon Davis just spoke with Ant-Man and the Wasp director Petyon Reed about this possible connection - here's what Reed had to say:
"Well, again, I have to tell, I genuinely enjoy ... This is one of the things I love about doing a movie in the MCU connected to a larger thing where there's a piece of dialogue where someone is ... Oh, is this Justin Hammer from Iron Man 2? And I'm not going to answer it because I think I would be depriving you of joy if I answered that question one way or the other. But I do love it. Having nothing to do necessarily with this movie, that there's a possible connection with that movie."
A popular fan-theory that's already circulating is that Ant-Man and the Wasp is opening the door for Obadiah Stane to make a surprise return to the MCU. Tony Stark's mentor was the very first MCU villain, when he went full "Iron Monger" in the climatic act of Iron Man. If Stane (and possibly his allies - more on that in a minute) has been pulling strings behind the scenes and laying in wait, then like Hammer, he would have big reason to seek Pym tech as a means to defeating Tony Stark once and for all.
The real Mandarin was revealed to be lurking in the dark corners of the MCU, after Aldrich Killian tried to misuse the guise of the Mandarin to further his own goals in Iron Man 3. Having remained in the shadows this whole time, The Mandarin could be amassing tech for some kind of big scheme or move to come in Phase 4.
The Obidiah Stane theory and this theory run closely together: either villain would have perfect motivation for getting Pym tech, and a bigger reveal would be that they were working together. After all, Stane double-crossed the Ten Rings organization in Iron Man, so he owes The Mandarin big time.
At this point in the MCU, both HYDRA and SHIELD have fallen, but as shows like Agents of SHIELD have shown, factions of both organizations are still in play all over the world. HYDRA in particular has splintered into so many smaller pieces that a cabal of former members could easily be backing Burch. Considering that so many agents of SHIELD (going back to the founders) were revealed to be HYDRA sleepers, it's easy to imagine a former colleague of Hank Pym's at SHIELD like Mitchell Carson could now be after him. After all, last we saw in the first film, Carson has a sample of Pym Particles, but may need more to complete the design.
Advanced Idea Mechanics popped up in Iron Man 3 and got a mention in Agents of SHIELD, but the full scope of the organization hasn't yet been explored in the MCU. Since A.I.M.'s goal is dominating the world through science and tech, Hank Pym would be a natural target on their list. As Burch hinted, recruiting Pym and Hope seemed to be his initial play, and that just screams A.I.M. when you think about it. Hank Pym, Scientist Supreme? Has a nice ring to it...
The Roxxon Oil Company has quietly become the shady corporate conglomerate with the furthest reach across the entire MCU. They're mentioned in all three Iron Man movies; in the Marvel One-Shots; in Agents of SHIELD, the historical era of Agent Carter; in Marvel Netflix series as a partner of The Hand, and now at the center of accident that gave Cloak and Dagger their powers. With Roxxon clearly working on the cutting edge of this changing world of superpowered people, it would be no surprise to find out its also behind the attempt to steal Pym tech.
World Security Council
Never disregard that these shady global power-players could be at the heart of any scheme for power or control in the MCU. With the tech race advancing so much with A.I., Wakanda now a world leader, and alien tech being adapted in all kinds of ways, the World Security Council may just want an edge to help them win the next arms race: Quantum Energy.
This would be a great way first introduction of the popular Spider-Man villain into the MCU - in a way few fans would ever suspect. Norman Osborn and Osborn Industries have been known in the comics for trying to crack the tech of Marvel's top geniuses, so the MCU version going after Pym would be fitting.
Who do you think Sonny Burch was working for? Was it someone significant, or could it just be a red herring meant to push the film's plot? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Ant-Man and the Wasp is now in theaters. Avengers: Infinity War is now playing in theaters. Other upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movies include Captain Marvel on March 8, 2019, the fourth Avengers movie on May 3, 2019, the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 5th, 2019, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in 2020.