Currently, we don’t really know a lot about Ant-Man and the Wasp. And even after the new trailer this morning, we don’t know much more about Hope and Scott’s new adventure other than more fun shrinking action. But at least we do get a look one of the film’s mysterious villains.
Images: Marvel Studios and Marvel Comics. Amazing Spider-Man #16 art by Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba, and Edgar Delgado.
Aside from the FBI – who are presumably still more than a little ticked about Scott’s involvement with the events of Captain America: Civil War – being on both his trail as well as Hank Pym and Hope van Dyne’s, the Ant-Man and the Wasp trailer gives us our first, fleeting look at a comics-inspired antagonist for Scott and Hope to face: Ghost. In the movie, Ghost will be played by Hannah John-Kamen (Killjoys, Black Mirror) but in the comics, the character is typically portrayed as a man… whose identity we’ve never really learned.
Ghost’s debut on the cover of Iron Man #219. Cover art by Bob Layton
First introduced as an antagonist for Iron Man in 1987, and created by David Michelinie and Bob Layton, Ghost was portrayed as an anticapitalist supervillain who used their advanced intellect and computer skills – as well as a high tech stealth suit that let them turn intangible and invisible – to target the major corporations of the Marvel universe as a mercenary for hire. As an Iron Man foe he’s naturally gone up against Stark Industries more than a few times, but everyone from Roxxon to Peter Parker have been targeted by the Ghost’s stealthy attacks.
It would take over 20 years for the comics to give Ghost a backstory, and by that time he was a recurring member of the Thunderbolts team – and had been softened into more of an anti-hero, thriving on the chaos of villainous actions to strike out at the elitist billionaires and megacorps he saw as a stain on society. His anti-capitalist streak apparently came from a previous life working as an engineer for a wildly evil company called Omnisapient, who abused and manipulated Ghost for his inventions and talents, going so far as to hire a woman to be his lover to keep him happy and compliant with the company.
Thunderbolts #151 art by Kev Walker and Frank Martin.
When Omnisapient had his girlfriend killed after she demanded more money from them, Ghost discovered the extent to which the corporation was manipulating his life – and when they found out he was on to them, they tried to kill him too, with an explosion at his apartment that fused some of the stealth tech he was working on with his body. Ghost used the tech to escape the scene and proceeded to go on a murderous spree against Omnisapient’s executives in revenge, before branching out into a wider goal to bring down the corporatocracy.
If Hannah John-Kamen’s version of Ghost brings over that anti-corporation streak from the comics, it’d be a bit weird to see her teaming up with the FBI to hunt down Scott and the Pyms. So who could she be working for? Well, we know she isn’t the only villain in the film – Walton Goggins was announced as part of the cast at San Diego Comic-Con last year, playing Sonny Burch, who is actually another villain associated with Iron Man (this is what happens when you use your character’s most famous foe in the first movie, I guess).
In the comics, Burch was a former executive at Cross Technological Enterprises – Darren Cross’ tech corporation from the first film – who attempted to capitalise on Tony Stark revealing his identity as Iron Man to the wider public, losing the patent on his Iron Man armour technology in the process. Burch attempted to use Tony’s weapons tech (which he had no idea how to actually use) to woo the US Government into offering him the role of Secretary of Defence, but ended up killing himself in shame when a demonstration went horribly awry and killed several test pilots. We see Goggins briefly in the trailer, apparently holding onto Hank Pym’s shrunk-down office building while a giant-sized Scott towers over him, so it seems like he’ll be looking to capitalise on Pym’s misfortune.
If Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s version of Sonny Burch keeps the Cross connection – and if Ghost keeps her mercenary for hire, anti-corp origins – could Burch be the ones who ends up hiring her? We’ll have to wait until July 5 to find out.