Who is Ant Man? And 9 other questions about the smallest Avenger

Ant-Man-2015-Movie-Poster

I was talking with my sister-in-law about ‘Ant-Man’ and she had no idea why I was actually excited about seeing the diminutive Avenger finally getting his due on the big screen. It dawned on me that outside of Marvel Comics fans have no clue who this guy is, made even more apparent as I was calling around to stores trying to describe the Ant-Man action figures. So I decided to give newbies a primer on all things Ant-Man just in time for the movie’s release this Friday.

180px-Ant-man_pymWho is Ant-Man?

Initially Hank Pym came up with a formula that allowed him to shrink in size and with the aid of a cybernetic helmet, could control ants.

Deciding to use his powers for good, Pym named his superhero alter-ego Ant-Man. The film version isn’t Hank Pym though, but the second Ant-Man Scott Lang, who will be played by Paul Rudd.

How many Ant-Mans are running around in Marvel?

There have been four. Pym, Lang, Chris McCarthy and Eric O’Grady. Of the four, Lang is the only one with a criminal record for theft and serving three years in prison.

After being paroled for good behavior, Lang became an employee with Tony Stark even helping to design security measures for the Avengers Mansion. Lang then went on to steal Pym’s Ant-Man suit to help save his daughter Cassie’s life. Pym took mercy on Lang and allowed him to retain the Ant-Man identity as Pym had changed his identity to Goliath and Yellowjacket.

Yellowjacket II RitaIsn’t Yellowjacket the bad guy in ‘Ant-Man?’

Yes, for the movie, Pym’s fourth alter-ego (it’s complicated) is going to be the main villain. It’s not the first time Yellowjacket has been a villain in the Marvel Universe though as criminal Rita DeMara stole that identity (that happens to Pym a lot and that doesn’t even account for Hawkeye ‘borrowing’ Pym’s Goliath identity/powers) and joined the Masters of Evil in destroying Avengers Mansion.

Why is Marvel trying to shoehorn him into the Avengers films?

Ant-Man founding Avengers member Avengers vs LokiAnt-Man actually was an Avenger before Black Widow, Hawkeye and Captain America. It was Ant-Man who suggested Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Wasp and him remain a team after battling Loki. Wasp came up with the name, which was why so many longtime comic book fans questioned why Ant Man and Wasp weren’t among the first film roster.

Hank Pym as Ant Man Goliath Yellowjacket and Giant ManWhat else can he do besides talking to ants?

Pym is a master level genius in the Marvel Universe, with an intelligence to equal Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four and Tony Stark aka Iron Man.

Feeling inadequate next to his teammates Hulk, Thor and Iron Man, Hank went the other way with his size controlling powers and in ‘Avengers 2’ debuted his second costumed identity – Giant Man.

As Giant-Man, Pym could grow up to 12 feet tall with the strength to match. After a slew of identities, Pym has settled on Giant Man in the comics…for now.

Marvel Ant-Man concept suitWas Ant-Man really set to be the Iron Man of the Avengers films?

‘Ant-Man’ has been in the works one way or the other since 2004 when Edgar Wright initially pitched the project to Marvel. He was hired in 2005 to direct Ant-Man as the lead off film for the Marvel a Cinematic Universe. Script delays held the film up and Iron Man became the launching point for Marvel movies instead. And when Wright was all set to finally get the movie released, he clashed with Marvel over creative differences and he left the project he’d been working on for the better part of a decade.

Ant Man vs UltronIs he really Ultron’s daddy?

Yes… Pym is the father. One of the sticking points for longtime Avengers comic fans was Ultron’s origin would have to be changed for ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron‘ since Pym hadn’t been introduced in the cinematic universe yet. In the comics, Pym created Ultron using his brain wave patterns as a basis for his thoughts. Ultron quickly develops an Oedipus complex and wants to kill his ‘father’ resulting in years of drama and heartache for the Avengers.

So why hasn’t Ant-Man appeared on TV/movies before?

Pym/Lang has had plenty of small screen exposure. Ant-Man was featured as part of the Marvel Super Heroes in the 1960s and as Goliath, Pym had a cameo on ‘Fantastic Four’ Pym actually was the leader on the first Avengers cartoon ‘The Avengers: United They Stand,’ but it was a pretty terrible show and not the least of which was because Captain America, Iron Man and Thor only made cameo appearances. There’s actually nothing positive I can say about it so let’s move along after you check out the first episode:

Pym finally got treated with some respect in ‘The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes,’ which stayed fairly true to the comics’ history even putting Hank as a founding member of the team. In one memorable episode, we got a fairly accurate retelling of Lang becoming Ant-Man.

Why is Pym so much older than Lang in the movies?

Good question. Wright wanted to have a flashback sequence with Pym as Ant-Man to show him in action in the 60s before Lang stole the suit. That aspect of Wright’s script was retained so Pym won’t ever join the Avengers in this cinematic universe.Ant Man

How big a player will Ant-Man be in the movie universe?

Rudd has already been announced to be joining the cast of ‘Captain America: Civil War’ so he’ll be around for at least one more film. In the comic, Pym was firmly on Team Iron Man, and along with Reed Richards, was responsible for the creation of the Thor clone Ragnarok. That’s also the subtitle of the next Thor movie so make of that what you will. With Pym and Lang as separate characters, the film could play with the potential of finding them on opposite sides with Pym staying with Iron Man and Lang siding with Cap. It’ll be fun to see how this all plays out.

Alright, there’s your Ant Man primer. Let me know what you think after you see the movie this weekend!