Avenger. Defender. Scientist. Illuminati. Genius. Madman. It takes a special man to carry all those titles. And Ant-Man is one of those men.
Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby, Hank Pym will be played by Michael Douglas in the upcoming movie, with Paul Rudd playing his protégé Scott Lang, the second person to bear the title. Peyton Reed is attached to direct, after the first director, Edgar Wright, left due to creative differences.
Marvel’s first size-changing superhero, Hank Pym is one of their more tragic characters. Despite his brilliance, his personal life is generally in shambles, with mental illness a recurring theme in his stories. His personal demons have seen him attempt to destroy the Avengers, create an inhuman abomination bent on the genocide of the human race, and ruined countless friendships.
Despite all this, he has steadfastly endured, determined to be a better man, and has a great deal of respect within the hero community. He has proudly served, with distinction, on multiple teams down through the years, both as a superhero and as an advisor to superheroes, as well as founding Avengers Academy to train the next generation of superheroes and frequently assisting other heroes with scientific issues. When he’s not decking villains in the face, he’s usually in his lab, working on another world saving and/or destroying device.
He’s a founding Avenger, a hero closer to a supervillain than he or anyone else is willing to admit, and Scientist Supreme of Earth. He is the Ant-Man.
14. He’s Not A Superhero
Originally, at least.
He started off as a scientist in a horror-science fiction story. In “The Man in the Ant-Hill,” Hank Pym is a mad scientist laughed at by the scientific community for his bizarre dreams of shrinking things that shouldn’t be shrunk.
Like any good mad scientist (good being a relative term), he experimented on himself, accidentally shrinking himself to smaller than an ant, and spent the rest of the story trying to escape their ant-hill, in a subversion of the typical “giant insect” genre.
Positive fan response and a sudden revival in the superhero genre led to him getting his own on-going series and ultimately joining the Avengers.
13. He’s a Founding Member of the Avengers
Although he has been omitted in recent years, especially in the movies, Hank Pym was a founding member of the Avengers, serving proudly on most iterations of the team and even helping found the West Coast section.
Due to a combination of a string of increasingly dark stories and a corporate preference for the Big Three Avengers (Iron Man, Thor and Captain America), he’s been pushed aside slightly, despite his long (very long) time serving on the team. It remains to be seen if the upcoming movie will somehow insert him into the Avengers/SHIELD backstory, but he has been referenced previously as being involved.
12. He’s a One-Man Basketball Team
Although he is best known as Ant-Man, he has changed his name multiple times. After joining the Avengers, he decided to upgrade himself to keep up with the stronger members, becoming Giant-Man. He flipped between the names, depending on the situation.
After a while, he took up Goliath, focusing more on height, power and slam dunks. His first mental breakdown created Yellowjacket, a loud-mouthed egotist who was convinced he had killed the real Hank Pym. Following his recovery, he stayed with that name for quite a while, before switching back to the Ant/Giant-Man combo. He later took the name Wasp, in honour of his dead wife, Janet Van Dyne, before eventually returning to Ant-Man.
11. There Have Been Many Ant-Men
With so many identities, many others have taken up some of his titles. There have been two others who took up the Ant-Man name, Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd in the upcoming movie) and SHIELD agent Eric O’Grady, who used the powers to spy on women in the shower. Scott’s daughter would go on to develop similar powers and served with the Young Avengers.
Bill Foster, Pym’s lab assistant, became Black Goliath and was later murdered by an evil Thor, with his nephew Tom inheriting the name and powers. Hawkeye worked as Goliath for a while, while undergoing a crisis of confidence, but returned to the Hawkeye name.
Two supervillains also took his names, with Rita DeMara becoming Yellowjacket and Eric Josten operating as Goliath. They both later became heroes, with Josten joining the Thunderbolts and DeMara becoming an Avenger and one of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
10. His First Sidekick Was Wasp
Janet Van Dyne, beautiful billionaire heiress/fashion designer, became his sidekick when her father was murdered by aliens. She became the winsome Wasp, able to fly and shoot stinger blasts. She was also the one who came up with the Avengers name. The two would later begin dating, ultimately marrying in a wedding that featured the Circus of Crime, a mental breakdown, and mistaken identities.
They later separated after Hank had another breakdown, and spent several years apart. In that time, he joined the West Coast Avengers and she served as leader on the regular Avengers, becoming the second-longest serving leader after Captain America.
9. He Created Ultron
His greatest success and greatest failure was Ultron. Desperate to prove he was a real scientist and not just a sideshow act, he decided to build the most advanced AI ever. The result was Ultron, the greatest robot in the universe. The downside is, it’s also a genocidal psychopath with daddy issues.
It quickly escaped the lab, upgrading itself through multiple bodies, each deadlier than the last. It is obsessed with creating a “family,” creating robotic wives and children and kidnapping important people in Hank’s life to try to learn more about him.
The movies streamlined it by having Tony create it, but most continuities focus on the Pym angle.
8. He Invented Pym Particles
Alongside Ultron, Pym Particles are his greatest creation. They somehow shunt matter safely from one universe to another, allowing users to ditch additional mass to shrink or add extra mass to grow. Strangely, although growing does provide a strength boost, shrinking doesn’t affect physical strength, allowing someone the size of an ant to deliver the punch of a grown adult. And that’s just a normal person, imagine someone with super strength taking a swing.
Besides Pym, the particles have been used by those who inherited his mantles, justice officials to deal with over-crowding in prisons and the Punisher, who used them to infiltrate criminal organisation by hiding on a pizza.
7. He’s Battled Mental Issues
Unsurprisingly, dosing yourself with untested serums to “show them all!” is not the heathiest way to live your life. Due to a combination of an already existing depression, Pym Particles, bodily strain and the general stress of the superhero lifestyle, Pym has made several breakdowns over the years.
The first such major breakdown led to the creation of Yellowjacket, the exact opposite of Pym. Loud, brazen and wearing his heart on his sleeve, he eventually stabilized but chose to remain as Yellowjacket to try to be better.
He later had another breakdown, possibly due to Ultron’s machinations, that saw him create a killer robot that he would defeat to prove he was a “real” hero. That didn’t quite pan out, and he was removed from the Avengers. After a failed suicide attempt, followed by brutally beating Ultron to death, he eventually seemed to make peace by reassembling himself after a sorcerer accidentally split him in three, into Hank Pym, Yellowjacket and his idealised self.
6. He Has Some of the Coolest Villains
Any hero worth his salt has a good rogue’s gallery. People often point at Batman for having the most freakish assortment of villains, but Pym’s takes the cake for sheer weirdness and brutality.
The best known is Ultron, the rogue AI that massacred an entire country just because he could. In his early days, Pym tangled with the Scarlet Beetle, a radioactive beetle with human intelligence that stole his equipment to create an army of giant insects, the Porcupine, who used offensive quills to pull bank-jobs, and Egghead, a traitor who sold nuclear secrets to the Soviets and used ant-eaters in his battles with the Ant-Man.
5. He’s Worth $200,000
First appearances typically sell for a very pretty penny. Both Action Comics 1 and Detective Comics 27 (the first appearances of Superman and Batman respectively) have both sold for one million dollars. Amazing Fantasy 15, Spider-Man’s first appearance, retails for approximately $407,000. Tales to Astonish 27, Hank Pym’s first appearance, will set you back a cool $200,000. Expect that to rise when the movie hits, possibly hitting $500,000. Quite a few older collectors have already sold their copies, but smart ones will be holding out a bit longer. Even fairly damaged copies could easily hit $500, but don’t expect to find a flawless copy anywhere, it’s 53 years old.
4. He Was the First Hero Marvel Attempted to Get on the Screen
Marvel has been trying to get him on the big screen since the ’80s, but the initial pitch was rejected due to similarities with Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. In 2000, the movie was announced by Artisan Entertainment, with Edgar Wright and his writing partner Joe Cornish pitching a sample script. This was long before Iron Man and the Avengers Initiative, and the whole story is almost as complicated as the behind-the-scenes of the Spider-Man movie production nightmare. We almost had an Ant-Man movie alongside Spider-Man and the X-Men. They pitched again in 2004, before officially getting the job in 2006, and officially losing the job in 2014. Most people would quit after the first few years, but Wright is not most people.
3. His Stand-Ins
Amidst the general misery of his life, Pym was abducted and replaced by an alien race of shapeshifters called the Skrull, alongside many other heroes and villains. Rather than the usual “take their face and wing it,” the Skrulls studied their targets for years to best impersonate them over an extended period of time. Unlike the other targets, he had multiple replacements, after they kept burning out on medication and committing suicide. Because they couldn’t take the pressure of being Hank Pym.
Out of all the people the Skrulls replaced across the universe, like the Kree, the Badoon, the Dire Wraiths, the Z’Nox, from presidents, criminals, and soldiers, he was the only one they had that reaction to. The only one they could not impersonate for extended periods of time.
And people think Spider-Man’s got it rough.
2. He’s Not Just an Avenger
Although he is best known as an Avenger, he has also served on other teams and less official Avenger teams.
He has served on two iterations of the Defenders, and formed his own Avengers team, the Mighty Avengers, at a time there was no Avengers. Cap and Thor were dead, Iron Man was missing, and he stepped up with his own team to counteract a team of evil Avengers led by Norman Osborn.
Following these, he joined the Illuminati, a secret organisation representing every aspect of the superhero community, to investigate an ongoing threat where universes are forced to crash into each other.
1. He’s a Granddaddy
After escaping the lab, Ultron went on to create an entire family of robots of his own, making Pym a proud granddaddy to multiple androids, including Vision, Alkhema, and Jocasta. Two of those served as Avengers. One grew up to be a vicious mass-murderer. Fifty-fifty is still pretty good. Ultron later forced him to oversee his marriage to Jocasta, since Pym is the closest thing robots have to God.
In one alternate future, where Earth was invaded by Martians, Jocasta somehow got pregnant by Machine Man, another robot who was evolved by the monolith of 2001, with Pym presiding over the birth.