Who is Ant Man?

ant man movieAnother Marvel superhero comes to the big screen this week. He’s Ant-Man, a name that is not exactly a household name like Spider Man, Superman or Batman. Marvel Comic book fans will instantly identify Ant-Man as one of the founding members of The Avengers. That fact alone gives us an important clue as to why Ant-Man is being deemed important enough to be given his own big-budget movie. We can expect to see him joining Iron Man, Captain America and the rest in upcoming Avengers films. It’s already been confirmed that Ant-Man will be in the upcoming film, Captain America: Civil War, due out May of 2016.

Below is a great article from Time Magazine that gives a brief synopsis of who Ant-Man is in the comic books and how he translates into flesh and blood in the new movie. Read the full article here.

(Time Magazine, July 15, 2015, Eliana Dockterman)

Who is Ant-Man? . . . . In the comics, Ant-Man is a scientist named Hank Pym and one of the founding members of the Avengers. (N.B. Ant-Man has not appeared in either Avengers film.) When Pym retires, Scott Lang takes over, and he’s the character featured in the film. Lang is played by Rudd, Pym by Michael Douglas.

What are his powers? . . . . Pym and his lab assistant-turned-girlfriend-turned-wife-turned-ex-wife Janet Van Dyne invent “Pym Particles,” which can alter a person’s size and increase their strength in the process. Pym also builds a helmet that lets him communicate with ants and other insects—a more useful skill than you think. In the movie, however, a device that looks similar to a hearing aid is used to communicate with insects, while the helmet is used to protect Ant-Man’s mental stability when he shrinks and enlarges at will.

Doesn’t Hank Pym have some pretty controversial storylines? . . . . Yes. Perhaps one of the reasons Ant-Man’s never been the most popular hero — besides that name — is that he turns into kind of a heel. During the 1980s, Pym had a mental breakdown and took on an alter ego called Yellowjacket, who was very aggressive. He did things like abuse Janet Van Dyne, accidentally create Ultron — the bad guy that Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, mistakenly created in the last Avengers film — and plot against the Avengers.

But that’s not the guy we’re seeing in this movie? . . . . Right. Luckily, Marvel Studios decided to focus on Scott Lang. Lang is a burglar who works for Stark Industries for awhile in the comic books. He later tries to use his Ant-Man powers to save his sick daughter. In the movie, Lang is still a burglar, but has no relation to Stark industries and becomes the Ant-Man to live up to his daughter’s expectations.

 Is Janet Van Dyne in the movie? . . . . No, and it’s a plot point about which some fans are pretty upset. In the comics, Janet was a founding member of the Avengers and eventually became the hero Wasp. Her absence is especially irksome considering what an abusive jerk Hank Pym is in some of the comics.

What’s with Ant-Man’s suit? . . . . Ant-Man’s suit can change size as he changes size, so it’s pretty special.

Who is the villain? . . . . In the movie, Yellowjacket is now the bad guy alter ego of Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), an industrialist and former protege of Pym. He uses a different, more militaristic version of Ant-Man’s armor (just like Obadiah Stane does with the Iron Man suit in the first Iron Manmovie). But even though he can change size, he cannot control insects like Lang can.

How does Ant-Man fit into the rest of the Marvel universe? . . . . Though Ant-Man is a standalone film, Marvel Studios has confirmed that Rudd’s character will join the many other heroes in Captain America: Civil War. There is a possibility that Ant-Man shows up in the next Avengers sequel as well.

Why is Marvel making an Ant-Man movie? . . . . What? You weren’t convinced by his power to control insects?

Marvel Studios likely decided to bring Ant-Man to the big screen because of its comic potential (no pun intended). If there is one thing that distinguishes Marvel’s movies from those made by Warner Bros. and DC, it’s a sense of fun. Zack Snyder’s grim Batman v Superman saga and even the X-Men franchise are often self-serious and dark. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy became the highest grossing film last year thanks to a funny script and the magnetic Chris Pratt, who demonstrated his comic chops in the lead role. Marvel likely saw a similar opportunity to poke fun at itself with the funny Rudd portraying the teeny tiny hero.

Plus, Marvel Studios can’t capitalize on some of Marvel Comics’ most popular characters. Up until this year, Sony owned the rights to Spider-Man. (Sony has now signed a deal with Marvel to make a joint Spider-Man film and allow the character to join Iron Man and Captain America in future films.) And 20th Century Fox owns both the Fantastic Four and X-Men.

2 thoughts on “Who is Ant Man?

  1. A very good recap of the characters. You can count me among those who will very much miss Wasp. She was a seminal character, as a survivor of domestic abuse, and I think the first woman to be Avengers team leader.

    What strikes me is Marvel is balancing the serious with the silly. Last summer we had Captain America, a downer film, followed by Guardians of the Galaxy, a funny breakout hit as you note. This year we started the summer with Age of Ultron, a downer film, and we’re following with the lighter Ant Man.

    I hear good reviews and hope to see it soon.

    1. Good point about Marvel balancing the downers with the lighter films. I think it’s the humor in the films that might help distinguish the Marvel universe from their soon-to-be heavy competition on the DC side. If you look at the new trailer for Batman vs. Superman you’ll see the same somber mood and angry heroes that we saw in the most recent Batman series. Not that that’s such a bad formula for a superhero series. The Bat V. Sup film looks pretty awesome, but I’m saying many fans might enjoy a big action flick if there’s a good dose of humor added in with the serious stuff. Marvel definitely has that down. Even the Avengers movies have plenty light moments sprinkled between the action. Although, I would agree with you that the latest Avengers went a little too heavy on the downer side for me.

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