Ant-Man had a great opening weekend, pulling in $58 million in its opening weekend and continuing Marvel’s winning streak. It is more modest than Avengers but still won the weekend box office and will most likely be profitable enough for a potential sequel (Gi-Ant Man?). There’s a good chance you’ve already seen it. Below, we detail the obscure references to Marvel comics history that are hidden within the movie and discuss which elements are pulled from which specific comic books. We’ll skip mentioning that Stan Lee has a cameo because of course he does and everyone catches those. Obviously this contains spoilers for the movie if you haven’t seen it. We’re looking at characters and locations more than plot points, but you may want to avoid this article until you’ve seen the movie. Or you can read this first and then whisper trivia to your date throughout the film. That always goes over well, right?
Mitchell Carson was the S.H.I.E.L.D. executive played by Martin Donavan who ultimately revealed he was working for Hydra. It was interesting to learn that Hydra is still around after the Avengers seemingly squashed the remaining leadership in Age of Ultron, but as the comics say “cut off one head and two more take its place.” Anyway, Carson was a turncoat S.H.I.E.L.D. agent from Robert Kirkman’s run on Ant-Man, although he did not work for Hydra. He was tasked with hunting down the third Ant-Man, Eric O’Grady, and was eventually revealed to be corrupt.
This movie establishes that there were superheroes around prior to Iron Man. We learn at the beginning that Hank Pym was Ant-Man from a previous generation and that he tendered his resignation to S.H.I.E.L.D. in 1989 at the still-in-construction Triskelion building (which was destroyed in Captain America: The Winter Soldier). We see that along with Mitchell Carson, there are two other founding S.H.I.E.L.D. leaders: Peggy Carter and Howard Stark. It’s been alluded to before, and we see those two in the Agent Carter TV show, but it was still cool to see them represented by original actors Hayley Atwell and John Slattery (originally seen in a video in Iron Man 2).
San Quentin Prison
San Quentin is not a prominent location in Marvel comics but it was used in 2011’s Ultimate Avengers vs. New Ultimates #6. That was a story set in an alternate universe, not the main Marvel universe of stories. Punisher ends up arrested and sent there for the murder of Spider-Man. This is the prison that Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) served his time in. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Seagate Prison on the East Coast is the more prominent one, being the location that Iron Man villains Justin Hammer and Trevor Slattery are imprisoned within. But since Ant-Man takes place in San Francisco, San Quentin makes more sense.
The place where Scott stays after getting out of prison is the Milgrom Hotel. This is named after Al Milgrom, a writer, penciller, inker, and editor who worked at Marvel from 1979 through 1997. His connection to Ant-Man is through the title West Coast Avengers. He illustrated that book from 1985 to 1988 and it featured Hank Pym as one of the members of the team.
Hope Van Dyne
In the normal Marvel comics continuity, Hank Pym does not have any kids and is really only a few years older than Scott Lang. But he was a founding member of the Avengers and was around a lot longer so in the movies, he’s from a previous generation. His daughter, Hope, is taken from an alternate future story where Pym had twins Hope and Henry Pym, Jr. However, they were the supervillains Red Queen and Big Man in that story (A-Next #7, 1999). Hope will most likely fill the role of Janet Van Dyne from the comics, who is the Wasp. In the movie, Wasp was the original Ant-Man’s wife and partner. In the comics, she was Hank’s girlfriend and eventual wife. But since she’s dead in the movie present, Hope fills that role, receiving a new prototype Wasp suit in the mid-credits sequence.
Janet Van Dyne
In the movie, Janet shrinks down to the Microverse and is thought dead. This actually happened in Secret Invasion #8 (2009). An alien Skrull imposter of Hank Pym sabotaged Janet’s powers and turned her into a bomb. Thor hit her with lightning to save the world and swore to avenge her. But in actuality, his lightning caused her to shrink down to the Microverse and the Avengers later rescued her.
When Scott first tries the Ant-Man suit and ends up falling on a car, the driver who looks up is Garret Morris (currently on 2 Broke Girls). The reason for this small cameo is that Morris was actually the first man to portray Ant-Man in live action, in a Saturday Night Live sketch from 1979.
Hank Pym cautions Scott that if he were to disable his regulator, he would never stop shrinking, eventually going to a Microverse, a “quantum realm” where time worked differently. This is where Janet Van Dyne ended up, having to do that to save the world in 1989. Scott briefly visits this realm at the end of the movie. In Marvel Comics, this is essentially another dimension, where their title Micronauts took place. That was a licensed book based on a Hasbro toyline but the book crossed over with Marvel characters regularly and one character from that book, Bug, was on Guardians of the Galaxy for a while. Microverse first appeared in Captain America Comics #26 (1943).
Tales to Astonish
When Darren Cross reveals to potential buyers that shrinking technology exists, he says that it seems like “Propaganda. Tales to astonish.” Tales to Astonish is the title where Hank Pym first appeared. In Tales to Astonish #27 (1962), Dr. Hank Pym perfects his shrinking technology and finds himself attacked by ants in his backyard. He later becomes Ant-Man in #35 and Wasp shows up in #44.
The Ten Rings
Among the bidders for Darren Cross’ technology is one man with a Ten Rings tattoo on the back of his neck. The Ten Rings was the terrorist organization that kidnapped Tony Stark in Iron Man. In Iron Man 3, it appeared they were led by Mandarin but that ended up being a ruse and Mandarin was revealed to be an actor called Trevor Slattery. In the Marvel One-Shot All Hail the King, Trevor is kidnapped from Seagate Prison by The Ten Rings and the apparently real Mandarin who is not happy about his identity having been usurped.
It’s a Small World
When Luis is undercover as a guard at Pym Tech, he wants to whistle to appear more inconspicuous. He is whistling the thematically appropriate “It’s a Small World.” Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Marvel is owned by Disney, creator of the ride and song.
At the end of the movie, Luis is talking about a tip he got. Within his overly convoluted story, Falcon is asking around about Ant-Man and is told about “one who can jump, one who can swing, and one who crawls on walls.” Seems like the first reference to Spider-Man in the MCU. He’ll appear in Marvel’s next movie, Captain America: Civil War, portrayed by Tom Holland (seen above, flipping).
During Scott’s first ride on Antony, he briefly lands on a commuter’s newspaper that asks “Who’s to Blame for Sokovia?” and when Scott tells Hank they should call the Avengers, he says they’re too busy dropping cities out of the sky. Both refer to the events of Age of Ultron. Also, when Scott goes to invade what should have been a remote Stark warehouse in upstate New York, he ends up invading the Avengers’ new base. In Scott Lang’s first comics’ appearance, he sneaked into Avengers mansion to steal the Ant-Man suit to save a doctor who had been kidnapped and who could help his sick daughter, Cassie. The movie gets to the spirit of Scott’s journey, if not a literal adaptation.
In the movie, Darren Cross becomes Yellowjacket. In the comics, Darren Cross appears in Marvel Premiere #47 (1979) and is the scientist and head of Cross Technological Enterprises. He has a heart condition and kidnaps a doctor who can also help Scott Lang’s sick daughter, Cassie. Scott steals the Ant-Man suit and defeats Cross. Yellowjacket was originally the third superhero identity of Hank Pym (after being Ant-Man and Giant Man). Hank had an emotional breakdown at this time and was a meaner person, but not truly a villain. Rita DeMara stole the Yellowjacket suit in Avengers #264 (1986) and was briefly a villain along with the Masters of Evil, but she later joined the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Found a few more!
Antony the flying ant was “Ant 427” according to Hank Pym. This could be a merging of Tales to Astonish #27 (first appearance of Hank Pym) and Marvel Premiere #47 (first appearance of Scott Lang).
Yellowjacket’s suit shares a lot in common with the Irredeemable Ant-Man’s suit. There are the extra arms, the flight ability, and the full face mask/visor. Also, Hank advises Scott that he can work with him and redeem himself.
The soda factory that Bruce Banner worked at in The Incredible Hulk manufactured Pingo Doce soda. We see ads for it when Scott first gets out of prison.
Several fans have said they saw the wispy outline of a person in the Microverse scene. This tracks with Kevin Feige telling audiences to watch that moment carefully and that there’s something hidden in there. This is probably the first glimpse of the cosmic embodiment of everything, Eternity. That’s a character that Dr. Strange has encountered many times in his otherwordly adventures. Hank Pym warns Scott Lang that if he were to shrink without the regulator, he would continue shrinking for all eternity.