Ant-Man and the Wasp’s villain Ghost gets a massive overhaul from her comic-book origins, where the character is a man with a completely different backstory.
However, she’s not completely divorced from Ant-Man’s classic rogues’ gallery – because later in the film it’s revealed that she’s the daughter of Elihas Starr, who in the comics is a pointy-headed supergenius who became one of Ant-Man’s earliest foes.
“Elihas Starr, Ava Starr’s father, is Egghead from the comics,” Reed told us in an exclusive video interview (above).
“When we first started talking about potential antagonists in Ant-Man and the Wasp, we went through the kind of rogues’ gallery of Ant-Man antagonists. And there aren’t that many.
“Egghead is one of them – but then it felt like, ‘well we can’t do Egghead, like a guy with an egg-shaped head and a lab coat.’ That seems like such a 1930s conceit.
“But we did like the idea of doing a sort of nod to that. So, thank you for acknowledging that.”
In the finished film, the character is seen in flashback portrayed by Michael Cerveris, who keeps a little of the character’s classic bald-headed, lab-coated look as a callback to the character in the comics.
It wouldn’t be a Marvel movie without a Stan Lee cameo, and while the comics supremo’s guest spot this time isn’t quite as hilarious as in the first Ant-Man movie (where he played a bartender in one of Luis’ trademark flashbacks) it’s still a funny addition.
In Ant-Man and the Wasp, Lee is seen reacting after his car is shrunk during a chase scene, and remarks, “Well, the ’60s were great – but now I’m paying for it.”
Considering that Lee helped invent many of his most famous superheroes during that decade, this rings true in more ways than one…
If you cast Laurence Fishburne in a sci-fi-themed movie, it’s hard to ignore his pedigree – and so the Ant-Man and the Wasp crew inserted a sneaky reference to his turn as Morpheus in the Matrix franchise, which you can spot in the above image just to the right of Fishburne’s head.
Speaking of Fishburne, it’s worth noting his character Bill Foster is a fully-fledged superhero called Black Goliath in the comics, where he has the ability to grow to an enormous size (like Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang in this movie and Captain America: Civil War).
In the film, this background is referenced to thanks to the “Goliath” programme Foster was a part of. It turns out that even that has been teased in the Marvel movies for a long time, first name-dropped in 2010’s Iron Man 2.
Specifically, it turns up when Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark asks his AI Jarvis to “tap the Oracle grid. I need some things out of storage. Give me everything from Projects Pegasus, Exodus, and Goliath.”
Project Pegasus was later revealed to be SHIELD’s attempt to study the Tesseract (aka the Space Stone), and we still don’t know about project Exodus.
One of the film’s funniest side-gags is that Scott’s friend Kurt believes Ghost to be Baba Yaga, a supernatural and demonic old woman from Eastern European folklore.
And Reed revealed to us that there’s an extra layer of reference to the spirit in the music choices favoured by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas).
“The character Kurt, David Dastmalchian, sort of relates Ghost to this legend of Baba Yaga,” Reed explained.
“And if you look carefully in Hank Pym’s laboratory, he has this sort of 70s stereo console, and there’s an album on it. And it’s the back cover of an Emerson, Lake and Palmer record, with a song called The Hut of Baba Yaga on it.
“Which means either Hank Pym knew about Ghost and Baba Yaga, or he’s a huge prog rock fan. One of the two.”
As we’ve noted elsewhere, Randall Park’s character Jimmy Woo has a bit of a comic-book background – but he’s not the only FBI agent in the film with some backstory.
At one point in the film, Woo reaches out to an agent to let him know the heroes are breaking the Sokovia Accords (the rules drawn up during Captain America: Civil War) – and that agent’s name is Geoffrey Ballard, a moniker he shares with Marvel supervillain Centurion.
Centurion fought Ms Marvel and Iron Man among other heroes in his less-than-storied career, and it’s a nice touch to see him get the nod here.
It’s also worth noting that Walton Goggins’ criminal character Sonny Burch also has a comic-book incarnation, though in the source material he’s a businessman who chairs the board of Cross Technologies.
In case you’ve forgotten, that’s the company of Darren Cross, the villain of the first Ant-Man movie. The new Sonny is essentially a different character, though as ever it’s nice to see there’s a bit of a connection to the comics.
For years fans have pointed out on big flaw in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – the sheer number of times the heroes have gone incognito just by wearing some sunglasses and a baseball cap.
Captain America’s done it, Tony Stark’s done it, The Falcon’s done it, Bucky’s done it, and viewers have marvelled that these good-looking super-celebrities are able to pull off such a basic disguise.
That is, until this film – when Douglas’s Hank Pym dismisses such disguises for himself, Hope and Scott as useless, given that they just look like themselves at a baseball game.
Reed has since revealed this wasn’t a deliberate dig at Marvel and more a comment on spy movies in general, but it’s still a great culmination of years of hat ‘n’ shades subterfuge.
“One Easter egg I will give you is [when] you look in the Quantum Realm,” Reed said.
“As Hank and Janet are leaving, and you look on the sort of corner of the frame, you may see an element in the Quantum Realm which might suggest something that we haven’t really explored in the Quantum Realm yet.”
As noted elsewhere, we haven’t really worked out what this could be yet – if you’re heading to a screening, let us know – but we certainly hope it could be explained in any sequels.
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