Ant-Man and the Wasp was the Marvel Cinematic Universe at its most vapid. It was a fun chase movie with a few good gags and a lightning fast pace that didn’t delve into its characters to any substantial degree and, apart from a few lines setting up the temporal qualities of the Quantum Realm, felt fairly disconnected from the MCU at large. This isn’t an issue – in fact, I enjoy the film quite a lot – but while rewatching the 20th film in the franchise, I thought of a way to turn one of the most dispensable movies in the series into something much more vital and connected. A way for it to have its cake and eat it too. The film can remain its own silly action-comedy that works on its own, but also spin off a character who has much wider and fascinating links to the MCU in their own Disney+ series. I’m talking about the film’s villain, Ghost.
I anticipate shrugs and eye-rolls at this point but bear with me. Yes, in the film, Ghost is a fairly underwhelming antagonist. For most of the movie, she’s just another party interested in acquiring Hank Pym’s lab and keeping the MacGuffin hunt going, but I feel there’s lots of potential surrounding her that was barely touched on in the film. We get a very quick flashback and exposition dump to explain her past and that’s it for the whole movie. But what if that wasn’t it? Hidden in that flashback is a story I believe is worth telling because the truth is the MCU hasn’t had a ‘villain’ quite like Ghost before. Her motivation is fascinating because her main objective is to rid herself of the very thing that makes her a threat, only becoming a villain because she naturally comes into conflict with Hank. In any other movie – or show – she would be a sympathetic victim. A hero.
In case you’ve forgotten Ghost’s origin, which isn’t difficult to do, Ava Starr was the daughter of a disgraced scientist who was kicked out of S.H.I.E.L.D and had to continue his dangerous work privately. A quantum accident kills young Ava’s parents and leaves her greatly changed, her body falling in and out of phase, giving her the ability to render herself intangible. She’s then taken in by S.H.I.E.L.D who give her the moniker ‘Ghost’ and manipulate her into becoming a deadly operative, promising her a cure for her soon-to-be fatal condition but never delivering. After S.H.I.E.L.D’s collapse, she’s taken in by Bill Foster and hunts for Hank Pym’s laboratory in the hope of curing herself before she disappears entirely.
While her past is very quickly rushed through to get back to the character-shrinking action, I think it holds valuable information for fully understanding the past of the MCU from a different perspective, and offering us new context for past character decisions. The Winter Solider was a turning point for the franchise, disassembling S.H.I.E.L.D after the truth behind the corruption of H.Y.D.R.A became clear, but even that movie makes the issues seem a little black and white. That S.H.I.E.L.D was only bad because of the H.Y.D.R.A agents buried within. But what if that wasn’t true? Maybe S.H.I.E.L.D wasn’t the morally superior institution the movies, and seven seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, led us to believe, and our former heroes were complicit in manipulating and weaponizing a scared and scarred young girl.
Now that the truth behind S.H.I.E.L.D is out, we can go back and explore their questionable practices. Did Nick Fury know about Ghost and keep knowledge about her hidden because he knew the other Avengers wouldn’t approve? Did Hawkeye and Black Widow go on missions with her? Did the ever-lovable Coulson act as her handler and go along with mistreating Ava for the greater good? S.H.I.E.L.D and all its agents are called in to question by the brief flashback in the film, but that montage only scratched the surface of what could be explored in terms of our heroes’ moral duplicitousness. Or, maybe Ghost was purely under the control of the faction of H.Y.D.R.A hidden within S.H.I.E.L.D. While not quite as intriguing as Fury himself calling the shots, it’d still be fascinating to see how the evil organisation managed to bury itself so deep and keep things a secret within S.H.I.E.L.D.
Despite her limited screen time in Ant-Man and the Wasp, Ghost – or Ava – has the potential to be a complicated and conflicted lead character. A prequel series would see her forced to work for the people she blames for the death of her parents. They turn her into a killing machine and use her powers to assassinate targets stealthily, all while holding a cure over her head. But she was young when they took her in. They are her only connections to the world she’s slowly drifting away from and, until it’s revealed there is no cure, she could enjoy her place in S.H.I.E.L.D’s ranks and working with fellow agents or superhumans. While Ava is quiet and very angry throughout most of the film (understandable considering her predicament), in the one scene of the film where she’s in control she’s actually quite charming, in a kooky kind of way. Not to mention that Hannah John-Kamen is a wonderful actress and Marvel would be crazy not to want to find some way of keeping her in the franchise.
Exploring the psyche of a superhuman assassin and the moral failings of a once heroic organisation might make for the thematic backbone of a great series, but the truth is I just want to see Ghost be a Sam Fisher-esque badass going on a new mission each week to take out a target. Whether a miniseries or an ongoing series, I think it could be just a fun spy show. The series could easily fit into the structure that The Mandalorian follows, with a mixture of serialised storytelling to begin and end the season, while the middle focuses on more standalone adventures. Considering Ghost is a part of S.H.I.E.L.D until they collapse, the prequel series could be set concurrent with the MCU’s Phase 1, and each mission could tie into the franchise somehow. One week she’s investigating Hammer Industries and the next she’s infiltrating the Ten Rings. And let’s not forget that she’s invisible. Maybe we’ll find out that she was using her powers to snoop in on some famous scenes from films past. Ghost is essentially S.H.I.E.L.D’s answer to the Winter Solider and it’d be amazing to see them go face-to-face.
While I think a prequel series makes sense for Ghost, that’s not to say the character can’t be further developed in an upcoming MCU sequel, either in conjunction with her own series or instead of it. Of course, there’s always Ant-Man 3 – or ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp and Ghost’ as I hope it’s called – but I’ve heard people speculate on her being one of the Thunderbolts in that upcoming project. She could also appear in either the Hawkeye or Falcon & Winter Solider series as a supporting character or guest star. Those shows could flash back to offer us a glimpse of Ghost working with the other titular hero in the past and then continue their adventures in the present.
Whether forwards or backwards in time, I hope we get to see more of Hannah John-Kamen’s Ghost in the future of the MCU. Despite her brief and underdeveloped first appearance in Ant-Man and the Wasp, I feel there’s an awful lot of potential in her story if it were to continue, both for her character’s development and the extra insight her past, and future, brings to the ever-growing tapestry of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Do you want to see a Disney+ series focused on Ghost? When and where would you want to see the character again? Let me know in the comments and be sure to geek out with me about TV, movies and video-games on Twitter @kylebrrtt.