That Stealthy Spider-Man Reference and Every Other 'Ant-Man' Easter Egg We Spotted (Spoilers)

·Editor-in-Chief, Yahoo Entertainment

Spidey, Mandarin, and water bears, oh my!

By now you know the drill: A Marvel movie comes out and, to serve the fan-folk, the filmmakers cram in all sorts of comic-book references, callbacks to previous films, and clues to upcoming events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With Ant-Man going wide on Friday, we’ve catalogued some of the big ones that we caught.

Needless to say, there are key plot points discussed below, so stop reading now if you don’t want anything spoiled. Come back later and see which ones you spotted —and please let us know what we missed.

The S.H.I.E.L.D.-HYDRA Connection

Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) is depicted as a lone-wolf scientist who doesn’t want his tech militarized at all, and that includes being used by S.H.I.E.L.D. In a flashback to 1989, he has a falling out with his S.H.I.E.L.D. colleagues (and MCU regulars) Howard Stark (John Slattery, who also played the part in Iron Man 2) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell).

Also present is Mitchell Carson (Martin Donovan). As in the movie, the comics version of Carson had hoped to become the next Ant-Man after Pym; when he doesn’t get his wish, he goes rogue. Donovan’s Carson turns out to be a HYDRA operative, tying in to the plot of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

While there’s no mention of it in the movie, the comics version of Scott Lang ends up working for Tony Stark, and creates a security system for Avengers Mansion.

Tales to Astonish

When he hypes his tech to a group of prospective investors, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) dismisses old stories of Ant-Man as pure fiction, labeling them “tales to astonish.” Tales to Astonish was the anthology comic book in which Hank Pym and Ant-Man were introduced — which you’d know if you read our Stan Lee oral history of Ant-Man. Director Peyton Reed pays loving tribute to the comic version of the mini-hero with several ripped-from-the-pages shots, including Ant-Man riding into action on his winged-ant mount, dodging bullets, and almost getting stomped on.


The Prison

After the first trailer aired, there was intense Internet speculation that Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang was incarcerated at Seagate Prison, a key site in Marvel Comics and the same facility where Ben Kingsley’s ersatz Mandarin was locked up following the events of Iron Man 3. (Kingsley reprised his role in the Marvel One-Shot titled All Hail the King, which focused on his character’s stint behind bars.) Instead, it turns out that Lang is doing time at San Quentin, the storied NoCal prison that has played host to Johnny Cash — and, more importantly to Marvel fans, the Punisher. Marvel will introduce that antihero, to be played by Jon Bernthal, in the second season of the Netflix series Daredevil, which is also part of the MCU.


More Mandarin
While Lang didn’t share a prison with the guy who pretended to be the Mandarin, there’s another reference to that villain’s organization, the Ten Rings (the same group responsible for capturing Tony Stark in the original Iron Man). According to Slashfilm, one of the goons Ant-Man tangles with sports a Ten Rings tattoo on his neck.


The Hotel (and Hints of a Future Team-up?)

After he’s sprung from San Quentin, Hank Pym heads back to San Francisco, where he holes up in the fleabag Milgrom Hotel. Al Milgrom is a former longtime Marvel writer-artist best known for stints on Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, and The West Coast Avengers. And in case you missed, the street number for the hotel is 420, which needs no decoding.


About the West Coast Avengers…

One of many offshoots of the main team in the Marvel comicverse, the Los Angeles-based group featured a rotating band of heroes over the years, but longstanding members included current MCU players such as Ant-Man, the Wasp, the Vision, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, and War Machine.  You’ll note that many of the actors who play those roles are still under long-term contracts, unlike Chris “Captain America” Evans, Robert “Iron Man” Downey Jr., and Chris “Thor” Hemsworth, meaning the West Coast Avengers could get some cinematic love down the line.

Still More Avengers…

When Lang suggests they call in the Avengers to help, Pym pooh-poohs the idea, stating, “They’re too busy dropping cities out of skies.” That’s a specific reference to the events of Age of Ultron, but it also hearkens back to Pym’s status as a founding member of the Avengers in the comics, where he had a tumultuous relationship with his fellow heroes, and was often jealous of them.

When all that backstory is combined with a post-credits sequence that signals Falcon, Captain American and the Winter Soldier are ready to call in Lang for backup, the film is positioning Ant-Man as an ally of Cap in his tussle with Iron Man in next year’s Captain America: Civil War.

Yellowjacket vs. Yellowjacket?

In the comics, Yellowjacket isn’t a bad guy — it’s one of several superhero personas adopted by Hank Pym. In the comics, Darren Cross was a tech mogul who used ruthless, illegal means to develop technology to save his damaged heart; Scott Lang initially breaks into Cross’s lab to steal the device to save his daughter, Cassie, who has a similar life-threatening condition. (In the comics, Cassie recovers to become one of the Young Avengers.)

While the characters differ, the Yellowjacket supersuit Corey Stoll wears in the film has some similarities to the costume from the comics (minus those mantis-like appendages).  


It’s a Small Wall

In a song choice layered with meaning, Luis (Michael Peña) insists on whistling to make his security guard impersonation seem more authentic. His tune: “It’s a Small World” (you can hear it at the 55-second mark in this TV spot), the eponymous soundtrack to the popular Disneyland ride. Disney owns Marvel. And, this being Ant-Man, makes it a very small world indeed.

A Small, Small World…

As director Peyton Reed pointed out to Collider, there are Easter eggs aplenty in Hank Pym’s house. Many of the tchotchkes around the place are actually miniaturized objects, including an Eames chair on the mantel and his army-tank keychain, which later proves to be a big plot point.


Think Even Smaller

When Lang shrinks into the trippy Quantum Realm, he’s not alone. Eagle-eyed moviegoers should be able to spot a Tartigrade, aka water bear, the Elvis of the microverse. This guy needs his own spinoff in the MCU.


Hope and the Wasp

With Hank Pym’s hardly shocking mid-credits reveal that he’s been keeping a supersuit stowed for Hope (Evangeline Lilly), it’s obvious the Wasp will be appearing in the MCU down the line. After all, Hope’s hairdo was a an early giveaway that she’d be making like her mom. 


In the main Marvel comicverse, there was never a Hope Van Dyne. But in an alternate reality, there was a Hope Pym who eventually become a villain.

Where’s Waldo, er, Stan Lee?

Stan the Man makes his customary cameo, this time as a bartender in one of Luis’s scene-stealing stories, noting a patron is “super fine.” Lee doesn’t actually speak, but mimes his lines over the narration.

Yes, That Means Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man

For the the first time, the MCU acknowledges the existence of Marvel’s most popular hero in Ant-Man. When the Falcon reveals he knows a guy who can shrink, he’s told: “We have a guy who can jump. A guy who can swing. A guy who can crawl up walls.” That’s a direct reference to Spidey (and based on the reaction of the audience in my screening, everyone got it), who will be played by Tom Holland and will join a dozen other heroes, including Rudd’s Ant-Man, in next May’s Civil War.

The Secret Third Ant-Man

Yes, we know about Hank Pym and Scott Lang both serving as Ant-Man in the film. But there's another Ant-Man who makes an appearance. Garrett Morris, who was technically the first screen Ant-Man, having played the laughingstock superhero in the classic "Superhero Party" sketch from Saturday Night Live, makes a quick cameo as a cab driver. Director Peyton Reed says he sought out Morris as a nod to his SNL bit.

[UPDATE July 20, 2015: Original version of this story noted that Falcon was part of West Coast Avengers lineup; while he did appear in the cartoon series Avengers: United They Stand, which featured the main WCA lineup, Sam Wilson was never part of the comic-book team.]

(All images courtesy of Marvel/Disney; Tartigrade image courtesy Eye of Science/Science Source Images)