Characters and ideas from Marvel’s latest may return to the big screen in big ways.

Ant-Man is the tiniest Avenger, and he may still be easily mistaken as the silliest one, too, because indulging in levity remains one of the most effective ways to tackle such an unbelievable character. However, the hero’s appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has opened up a plethora of possibilities for expanding the framework of superhero storytelling.

Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy introduced an ever-expanding universe to the MCU’s more grounded heroes. Subsequently, the first glimpse into the virtually unknowable Quantum Realm in Ant-Man meant that all bets are well and truly off when it comes to extending the Marvel cinematic legacy.

Of course, Ant-Man has a secondary asset too: a large amount of humor and heart. Core family narratives are prioritized in the film to keep the stakes raised for these bite-sized heroes. This definitely introduces some very exciting offshoot opportunities even in an earthbound realm.

As Ant-Man and the Wasp gears up for its big-screen release this weekend, the film’s cast and crew — stars Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly, director Peyton Reed, and producer Kevin Feige — gathered for a press conference to discuss the film’s flashiest moments, new discoveries, and where each character could end up in the future of a seemingly neverending franchise.

A good portion of the press conference rightly focused on Hope Van Dyne (Lilly) as she prepares to properly take up the mantle of the Wasp. If anything, Rudd proclaiming that “There was nothing to get in her way, ability wise” perfectly sets the tone for the film, which will hopefully feel as satisfying for the audience as it clearly is for the character. It’s genuinely heartwarming to see the cast and crew of Ant-Man and the Wasp celebrate one of Marvel’s more substantial female superheroes – even in the absence of solo billing.

Taking the time to develop Hope’s characterization in Ant-Man worked wonders. Allowing her to tap into the emotional core of her own father-daughter narrative actually makes her almost a more compelling protagonist than Scott Lang — Ant-Man himself. Hope was just never given the opportunity to put the suit on and have the full Big Damn Hero experience.

The decision to introduce Hope in the first Ant-Man marked a vast improvement to what Lilly describes as the initial plan for her first onscreen appearance:

“Originally, the Wasp was going to be introduced in ‘Captain America: Civil War’… I never expressed it, at the time, because how can you, but secretly I was like, ‘She’s not going to get an origins film? Oh, well, it’s okay. I’m just stoked to be here. I’m just happy that I get to put on a suit.’ And then, when I got the call saying, ‘We’ve decided that we’re not going to put you in Civil War’… then, they said what I thought they were going to say, which is that they really wanted to dedicate a film to introducing this female superhero, and they didn’t want her just to be a side note in this larger story.”

Of course, a single success is a silver lining, but more could always be done to accommodate a character like the Wasp. Despite the fact that Marvel has theoretically never been short of fantastic female characters, very few of them live up to said potential in the last 10 years, if they even last that long (I still mourn the loss of Betty Ross, Sif, and Jane Foster).

Of those who do remain or have been subsequently introduced, solo projects that were once underway — like Agent Carter — have quietly fallen through. A number of them are now on the way, including next year’s highly anticipated Captain Marvel and the promised Black Widow. To that effect, though, the question of spinoffs should always be kept open.

Lilly was asked if she was looking forward to interacting with other characters in the MCU, to which she replied that Okoye would be her ideal onscreen partner. She also revived support for the hypothetical all-female Avengers film that gained traction towards the end of last year.

Still, I do wish that a more pointed question was raised about Hope’s definitive future in the franchise, particularly when it comes to exploring her arc separate from Scott and her father, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). In fact, insofar as Hank‘s prequel prospects were discussed, it’s a tad frustrating that no one brought this up.

On the topic of exploring Hank’s past, Reed replied:

“That’s probably a Kevin [Feige] question, but I love the idea of that the Marvel Universe is set up in a way where you can potentially tell any of these stories, in any time period. It was one of the thrills, in the first movie, to have that scene with Hank Pym, to introduce Hank Pym into the MCU and retroactively place him back with Howard Stark and Peggy Carter. I love that because, in the comics, he’s one of the original scientist superheroes. So, who knows what’s next? Nobody knows.”

Considering that Douglas has been staunchly campaigning for such a prequel in the press the last few weeks, this idea could very well be entertained. To revisit the character’s initial days of scientific discovery, especially after knowing the significance of the Quantum Realm to the MCU, would absolutely have merit.

But to me, the really exciting thing about a potential Pym prequel is the fact that there would have to be more Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) — the original Wasp. While we’re definitely waiting to see what being trapped in the Quantum Realm for decades has done to her character, getting to know her at her peak would make her overall stint in the MCU even more rewarding.

Ultimately, any sequel or prequel possibilities within even just the contained Ant-Man universe alone provides a chance to find out more about the Quantum Realm in a more intimate way that big team-up movies wouldn’t be able to. Based on the Microverse in the Marvel Comics, the Quantum Realm is an alternate dimension that exists outside of space and time. The full extent of its mysticism is still undetermined in the films, but that’s precisely where all storytelling potential lies.

Feige spoke of the continued ripple effect of Pym’s research and the use of the Pym Particles to access the Quantum Realm:

“Without giving anything away, all of the new places and new things are storytelling tools. In the first film, we got a glimpse of it. For people who like to go through, frame-by-frame, there was a little silhouette of Janet, as the Wasp, in there, which is a big story element in this movie. There are things that Peyton has put in there, but where and how they pay off, in the near term and in the long term, remains to be seen.”

Lilly further weighed in on the probabilities of finding more than a single universe at a sub-atomic level. Her science-based response offers up way more insight into the future of the MCU once such a malleable dimension has been unlocked:

“At one point, we thought the atom was the be all and end all, and that everything ended at the atom because that was the smallest nucleus in the world, but we’ve actually discovered that the atom is kinetic and that atoms exist in multiple places, at the same time. That was scientifically proven. Once you discover that, then you know that matter is kinetic and matter is displacing, all the time, and if it can be displaced, it can be warped. So, if you can warp it, then you can warp size. If you can warp matter, can you warp time? Can you warp reality? Can you warp universes?”

On its own, the Microverse that exists in the comics has a lengthy history that introduces a rich dimension filled with multiple worlds. However, there is no telling just how much of this will be borrowed for the cinematic version that we’re just discovering in the Ant-Man movies.

Regardless, as much as this series about a comically tiny superhero has presented itself as a fun façade, there is certainly more than meets the eye in the Ant-Man universe — in both the past and present — that deserves to be explored in future movies.

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