Avengers: Age of Ultron has come, conquered the box office and gone. With one huge property in the MCU’s rear view, marvel fans are left salivating and wildly speculating as to what’s going to happen next.
Of course, next in queue is “Ant-Man” starring Paul Rudd as Scott Lang and Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym. (Note: if you want to read more about how I think “Ant-Man” will fit into the MCU, then click here.) But, as a standalone film with no signs of Avenger cameo’s, that won’t bring audiences the Team-based big action seen in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” With that said, the next big team event will be the highly anticipated “Captain America: Civil War.” Recently, Marvel announced that production was beginning on said “Captain America: Civil War” as well as announcing the sizable (and growing) list of talent involved.
As more and more information is revealed, the third installment in the Captain America trilogy (so far) is starting to look a lot more like Avengers 2.1. That is not to say the film won’t be amazing, but this is going to be an epic and direction changing film for the MCU, and based solely on the synopsis, it will heavily focus on the fallout post “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
“Captain America: Civil War” picks up where “Avengers: Age of Ultron” left off, as Steve Rogers leads the new team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. After another international incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability and a governing body to determine when to enlist the services of the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers while they try to protect the world from a new and nefarious villain.
So with recent reports of Paul Rudd being on the growing list of superheroes to grace the screen in Cap 3, what does this mean for “Ant-Man” and his MCU longevity? To start things off, if you are familiar with the “Civil War” comic arc, then you know that in the comics the crisis heavily focused on the secret identities of our embattled heroes. Obviously, the first conclusion that will be drawn is that the MCU’s adaptation will step away from this, as all our core heroes are already out of the Super-Closet. The second, is that some new conflict or “system,” as marvel has phrased it, will be the catalyst that forces former allies to face-off on just ‘how’ to protect the world.
This is where “Ant-Man,” and another yet to be introduced hero, could come into play.
I get that audiences haven’t heard much from Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang, given that all we get in the trailer are a few one-liners about his hero-handle. I’ll even be the first to admit that I am not too thrilled with the direction the MCU seems to be taking with this fundamental Avenger property, but that is neither here nor there. What we do learn in the “Ant-Man” trailer is a good deal about Scott Lang and how he could potentially be MCU’s key to the current secret identity-less Civil War. Although I have compared Ant-Man to Ironman in the past, Lang’s involvement in Civil War and beyond opens up the potential for a non-billionaire, low-profile and non-celebrity status hero to bring the double life aspect into the MCU. With the exception of the abridged Hawkeye backstory in the 2nd Avengers film, Ant-Man is the only other parent (single-parent at that). This gives Lang much more to lose if the wrong people ever find out his true identity. Unlike the more high-profile Avenger’s, Ant-Man is a complete unknown, a reformed petty thief who is allotted an amazing opportunity from a former hero (I think… if the MCU even chooses to credit Pym as the 1st Ant-Man).
The question that remains is will Ant-Man prove to be a worthy candidate as Marvel’s first and only undercover leading hero?
Marvel Studios’ presentation last fall made audiences shriek with excitement as they confirmed Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther being brought into the fold. If Black Panther is anything like his comic book namesake, then we know he is one person whose entire LIFE is shrouded in secrecy. That includes his off the grid, yet technologically advanced, home nation of Wakanda. But just like in the comics, Black Panther’s involvement will be uncertain as he generally operates for the greater good of his country, the Avengers team sometimes coming in second. It will be very interesting to see how the MCU will integrate Black Panther, and how willing the Wakandan Royal will be to join team Avengers.
Given the platform of his own feature film, Ant-Man will likely be a very important aspect of leading the MCU to a place that makes sense for Civil War. I am by no means saying that Ant-Man will be the next Tony Stark or Captain America figure for the Avengers, but I think he will be playing an integral role in building up to a breaking point. Obviously this is all contingent upon how Peyton Reed’s film is received by the gargantuan MCU fanbase, but the potential is there.
With that being said, I am not certain on two things. One, if “Ant-Man” fails to meet fan expectations and flops, not only will marvel have it’s first phase 3 black eye but also have to re-think the future Avengers lineup. Two, judging solely from the trailer, “Ant-Man” has a more comedic and light-hearted tone (even at the action peaks – i.e. Thomas the Tank Engine/ Yellow Jacket de-railment scene) which may pose a hurdle for transitioning Lang to the the expectedly darker Civil War.