In this summer's Ant-Man and the Wasp, when a black market tech dealer refuses to make the agreed-upon sale and instead tries to blackmail her, Wasp, aka Hope van Dyne, finds herself fighting off a crew of low-level baddies. She dominates her opponents, using a combination of blasters, Pym Particles Disks, martial arts, and her Wasp suit, which gives her the ability to shrink, grow, and fly at will.
Just when it seems Wasp will get away with the final part she needs to build a Quantum Tunnel to save her mother Janet (who has been stuck in the Quantum Realm for 30 years), an unknown villain shows up. The gray-suited villain phases in and out of solidity, making a counterattack nearly impossible. It doesn’t take long for the unidentified villain to defeat Wasp and get away with the part.
Ant-Man and Wasp begin referring to the mysterious interloper as Ghost, later identified to be Ava Starr, a person whose parents died in an unstable Quantum Tunnel explosion when she was a child. The accident also rendered Ghost incapable of controlling her newfound ability to phase. Later it is revealed that Ghost is working together with Hank Pym’s former partner Bill Foster, aka Goliath (Laurence Fishburne), as they try to stabilize her powers.
Despite kidnapping our heroes, stealing important technology, and being willing to sacrifice Janet to save herself, Ghost isn’t an evil villain. She’s an antagonist, as actor Hannah John-Kamen (who stars in SYFY's Killjoys) noted in an interview with FANGRRLS. Her desires are relatable, even though her means are ruthless. In fact, it is her insistence on saving herself, even if it kills Janet, that causes strife between her and her mentor.
Both Ghost and Goliath made their big-screen debut in Ant-Man and the Wasp this summer. The film is a refreshing counter to the somber storyline the rest of the Avengers are stuck in (or maybe died in, if we can trust the Russo brothers). Instead of epic battles with global or galactic stakes, Ant-Man and the Wasp pulls close to the existing characters. In the process we finally see Wasp kick some serious ass and get to know our two antagonists who are not quite villains and not quite allies.
John-Kamen and Fishburne give remarkable performances in the film. John-Kamen performs many of her own stunts, because she believes how Ghost moves is key to the character. Fishburne, an award-winning actor and prolific producer, brings Goliath to life as a brilliant scientist and counter to the cocky Hank Pym. And right now, they are exactly the team we need: racially diverse, intergenerational, and relatable.
Of the 19 films that make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe, only one film has featured a person of color as the titular hero (and Wasp is the only female titular hero, though Captain Marvel will be released in March 2019). Where Black Panther provides a desperately needed vision of an African nation untouched by colonialism and slavery, a Ghost and Goliath film could explore the realities of two heroes who are black or biracial who have had to live in a society where black and biracial people are maligned minorities.
Ghost and Goliath provide novel representations of black and biracial people who come from the United Kingdom and the United States, representations that give voice to people who live here, now, and deserve heroes they can relate to in addition to Black Panther (no one says you have to choose!).
Up to this point, pretty much all of the hero team-ups have featured heroes of the same general age range. Yes, Spider-Man is a baby child, and yes, Thor is an ancient Asgardian, and yes, technically Cap is 100 years old, but his centenarian ass also happens to look like Chris Evans.
We need actual intergenerational team-ups. With Goliath’s scientific expertise and experience working with powers connected to the Quantum Realm, he can continue to help Ghost not only control her powers but use them in ways she may never have imagined now that she’s not solely trying to not die. He can be a father figure without being her actual father, which allows the two to relate and disagree in complex ways.
One of the best parts of this potential team up is how relatable each character is. Goliath is a loving mentor who just wants to suit up again. Ghost is a powerful woman who doesn’t want to die.
In many ways, Ghost and Black Panther's Killmonger are two sides of the same coin. Each lost their parents as children. Each was recruited by the military to be an assassin. Each ends up battling the titular hero. Each simply wants to live and prosper. Whereas the course of events in Black Panther renders Killmonger irredeemable, Ghost gets a second chance. Janet Van Dyne saves her from phasing out of our realm entirely, and it would be incredible to see a relatable, understandable villain redeem herself in a spin-off.
The MCU is about to enter a new phase, so a Ghost and Goliath film may not be that far-fetched (or we may get lucky and get an all-female Avengers team that includes both Wasp and Ghost—I hope so!). Even Ant-Man and the Wasp nods at the idea of a spin-off.
Toward the end of the film, Ghost, who has had her powers temporarily stabilized by Janet, is seen running away. She offers to release Goliath from his commitment to her and he responds by promising to always care for her.
If that’s not a line begging for a spin-off, I don’t know what is.