The Marvel Cinematic Universe is getting bigger all the time, with Ant-Man and the Wasp adding several new heroes and villains to the mix. One of those new additions is Ghost (played by Hannah John-Kamen), a sinister villain who — in the comics anyway — lives to make life miserable for the business tycoons of the Marvel U.
If you’re not familiar with Ghost, here’s everything you need to know about the villain and his/her comic book background.
Where most Marvel villains are busy trying to take over the world or feuding with their superhero nemesis of choice, Ghost is more motivated by a love of anarchy and a desire to punish oppressive corporations. Ghost has dedicated himself (more on the character’s gender in a sec!) to attacking the largest corporate empires in the Marvel Universe, using a combination of elite hacking skills and phasing abilities to dismantle them from the inside out. Sometimes he works as a hired mercenary performing acts of corporate espionage. Other times he chooses his own targets. But either way, Ghost is a real thorn in the side of powerful businessmen in general and Tony Stark in particular.
Ghost is a skilled inventor and hacker whose ability to interface with machines allowed him to design an advanced bodysuit that grants him superhuman abilities. This suit allows Ghost to become either invisible or intangible at will (though not both at the same time). Naturally, these abilties are a huge asset when it comes to sneaking into corporate offices and remaining undetected.
The suit also makes Ghost a difficult opponent to fight, a lesson Iron Man has learned well over the years. Ghost has upgraded his suit with various offensive capabilities to complement his intangibility, giving him the power to fire concussive blasts or bursts of electricity and arming him with an arsenal of bombs and grenades.
Ghost first made his debut in 1987’s Iron Man #219, courtesy of creators David Michelinie and Bob Layton. However, it wasn’t until much later (in 2010’s Thunderbolts #151) that Ghost received a proper origin story. Though his true identity remains a mystery, Ghost revealed that he once worked as an engineer at a corporation called Omnisapient. The corporation became heavily dependent on Ghost’s inventions, to the point where they hired a woman to “fall in love” with him to keep Ghost happy and productive. After her death, Ghost spiraled into depression and isolation, designing a new computer network that allowed him to merge his own consciousness with a computer network. That bond allowed him to deduce the fact that his lover was an actor who had been murdered for trying to blackmail Omnisapient’s board of directors. And once the board tried to execute Ghost too, his transformation from overworked engineer to anti-capitalist supervillain was complete.
Ghost has remained a recurring member of Iron Man’s rogues gallery since his initial debut, frequently making Stark Enterprises the target of his wrath. However, he’s also notable for battling Spider-Man and Black Panther in 1991’s Amazing Spider-Man Annual #25, where Kingpin hired Ghost to steal Roxxon’s plans for creating synthetic vibranium.
Ghost has taken on a higher profile in recent years thanks to his induction into the Thunderbolts, which at the time existed as Norman Osborn’s personal black ops squad (this being the period when Osborn served as head of SHIELD replacement HAMMER — it’s a long story). This also marked a turning point for the character, as Ghost became more of a sympathetic anti-hero than a true villain. Ghost revealed that his only reason for joining Osborn was because the villain’s rise to power would allow Ghost to act as a “virus,” bringing down Osborn’s new empire from within. Ghost proved essential in helping the Avengers overthrow Osborn and HAMMER. As a reward, he was allowed to join Luke Cage’s new team of Thunderbolts, a group devoted to rehabilitating villains rather than exploiting them.
However, Ghost hasn’t completely changed his tune. The character’s most recent appearance came in 2015’s Amazing Spider-Man #18, where the sinister corporation Alchemax hired Ghost to sabotage Peter Parker’s fledgling Parker Industries.
Ghost has enjoyed a healthy life outside Marvel’s comics, appearing in several video games (including certain versions of 2010’s Iron Man 2 game, Marvel Heroes and Avengers Alliance 2). He made his animated debut in the 1994 Iron Man cartoon (voiced by Jennifer Hale, Jamie Horton and Tom Kane at the same time, no less). Ghost has also appeared in Iron Man: Armored Adventures (voiced by Michael Dobson) and Avengers: Ultron Revolution (voiced by Jim Cummings).
Ultron Revolution made an interesting change to Ghost’s origin, revealing that he’s an Inhuman whose innate abilities work hand-in-hand with his phasing suit. Will that change carry over to Ghost’s portrayal in Ant-Man and the Wasp?
Ant-Man and the Wasp will at least be making one big change to the character by switching Ghost from male to female. Though given that Ghost’s background is murky and he rarely ever leaves the cozy confines of his suit, this may not make much practical difference. Perhaps more significant is the fact that Ghost is being re-imagined as an Ant-Man villain rather than an Iron Man villain. Most likely, this version of Ghost will have a bone to pick with former business tycoon Hank Pym. It’s possible that she’ll be hired by someone else (possibly Walton Goggins’ Sonny Burch?) to steal the Ant-Man suit or simply seek revenge for the death of Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) in the original film.