Just who is Sonny Burch working for in Ant-Man & the Wasp? That's the film's greatest mystery - a plot thread that's deliberately left unresolved by the script. All viewers can say for certain is that Sonny is working for someone who can afford to pay him a great deal, and who has a deep interest in advanced tech and - potentially - superhuman experimentation. That sounds an awful lot like the MCU's perennial secret villain organization, Hydra.

Marvel Studios has a reputation for playing the long-game. It's quite possible they have no intention of developing this idea in the short-term, and have left this as a fun detail that they can explore years down the line. But it's also possible that this is a crucial part of a plan, with Marvel preparing to reveal the major villains of the Ant-Man trilogy.

Related: One Character that Ant-Man 3 Should Definitely Introduce

One popular idea is that Sonny was actually working for the MCU's as-yet-unseen Norman Osborn, who's being built up to become a major villain in the MCU. Another option, though, is that this particular plot thread is destined to be tied up in a third Ant-Man film. Marvel like trilogies, after all, and there's no way these heroes' stories are finished.

Theory: Sonny Burch is Working for Hydra Remnants

Our theory is that Sonny Burch is actually working for Hydra remnants. It's important to remember that Hydra has never really been shut down in the MCU. The threat of Hydra was believed defeated after the Second World War, but in Captain America: The Winter Soldier we learned that wasn't the case. The controversial Operation: Paperclip had given Nazi scientists a chance at a fresh start, working for the United States in an attempt to compete with the Soviet Union. It also gave Hydra's best minds a chance to infiltrate the American government and intelligence services. Finally, in 2014, Hydra was ready to step out of the shadows and into the light. Although they were defeated by Steve Rogers, Black Widow, and Falcon, Hydra remained a force to be reckoned with. The Avengers took down a major Hydra base at the beginning of Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Hydra attempted to purchase Pym-tech in the first Ant-Man.

It's true that the battle against Hydra appears to have come to an end on the small screen, with Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finally killing off what they believed to be the last Hydra leader, General Hale. But the movies have never considered themselves bound by the TV shows; rather, it works the other way round. Besides, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. actually dropped a subtle hint at just how Hydra could still continue - revealing that captured Hydra operatives and scientists were being offered a fresh chance if they agreed to work for the U.S. Government. It was played out as a perfect modern-day parallel for Operation: Paperclip, and could easily have given some of Hydra's most cunning minds an opportunity to begin reforming the organisation.

Hydra know about the Pym Particles, and they also most likely know about Bill Foster's Quantum Realm experiments, given he worked with S.H.I.E.L.D.. What's more, they also probably know about Ghost - another former S.H.I.E.L.D. asset. As a result Sonny Burch's offer would have been very interesting indeed to Hydra. Imagine if they experimented with Quantum Realm technology, and successfully created a squad of Ghosts.

Related: Ant-Man & The Wasp's Villains Can Reshape The MCU's Future

Crucially, if this is indeed Hydra, then the organisation becomes an important background presence in both Ant-Man and this year's sequel. As previously mentioned, in Ant-Man Hydra appeared as an organisation who had been interested in Pym-tech since Hank's days with S.H.I.E.L.D., and who offered to purchase it from Darren Cross. Given Hydra likely knew about Ghost, even at this stage they may have hoped access to Pym-tech would have given them additional "enhanced" assets.

Hydra actually almost played a far bigger role in the film; concept art has revealed that Arnim Zola almost appeared as a Hydra leader. Zola was a major Hydra operative, one of their greatest minds, and to cheat death he had his mind uploaded into a sophisticated (for its time) computer system. That was believed destroyed in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but it seems Ant-Man almost revealed Zola was still alive. The concept art reveals that, just in the comics, Zola's machine intelligence would have been uploaded into an android body. It's important to note we have no idea how early on in production this idea was dropped; still, it does rather suggest Ant-Man originally had some bigger MCU connections than the final theatrical cut.

Leaving Zola aside, though, there's still a clear narrative throughline here. If Sonny Burch's employers in Ant-Man & the Wasp really are Hydra operatives, then the organisation is remaining relentlessly focused in on Pym-tech, believing it to be the key to creating some powerful and dangerous agents.

Page 2: What This Means For Ant-Man 3

What This Means for Ant-Man 3

If this theory is right, then Hydra is being positioned as the main villains of an Ant-Man trilogy. Although a threequel isn't yet confirmed, Marvel do rather seem to like trilogies, and it would hardly be a surprise to see the studio preparing the way for Ant-Man 3. It's true that Ant-Man & the Wasp's box office performance has been disappointing, but using Hydra as the bad guys would provide a strong marketing hook. It would allow Marvel to stress that Ant-Man 3 is firmly rooted in the MCU's ongoing narrative, even hinting that it forms a sequel of sorts to the popular and critically-acclaimed Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Related: The History of HYDRA in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

In narrative terms, the first two Ant-Man films have stressed that Hydra is attempting to acquire Pym-tech through subterfuge, whether buying it from Darren Cross or hiring Sonny Burch to steal it. The threequel could see Hydra run out of patience, and decide to move directly against Hank Pym and his friends. Ironically, the fact Hank has been on the run from the FBI for the last two years has probably meant he's been operating under Hydra's radar, but it's as yet unclear whether or not the Sokovia Accords will remain binding in the MCU after Avengers 4. If they're revoked, Pym would no longer be a fugitive, and he'd settle down in one place. He'd unwittingly become a prime target.

The Ant-Man films are, fundamentally, about family. If this theory is correct, Ant-Man 3 will be the story of a family under fire. Hydra would pull no punches, attempting to use the relationships that bind these characters together against them. It's not hard to imagine them kidnapping Cassie and holding her hostage, or planting a bomb near Wasp and threatening to detonate it if Hank doesn't cooperate. Even the relationship between Ghost and Bill Foster would give them potential leverage. Meanwhile, it's possible that Hydra could actually be working with Elihas Star's Egghead - it would hardly be a surprise to learn that he'd survived the lab explosion. That would tie the Hydra threat in to the "family" theme rather well, and would also fit with continuity - after all, S.H.I.E.L.D. investigated Egghead's accident, and a Hydra mole could have been the one to discover Elihas was still alive.


Right now, this is only one of many possibilities. Marvel may not have actually decided who Sonny Burch's employer is right now; it may be that the studio has simply left this loose end dangling, confident they can pick it up and do something with it later, but also aware it doesn't really affect continuity at all if they leave it alone. At the same time, though, this theory fits the facts rather well. Hydra is already out there, already interested in Pym Particles, and using them in this way would create an overarching narrative that runs through all three Ant-Man films.

More: Ant-Man & The Wasp Teases Classic Marvel Villain for MCU Future (or Past)

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