On paper, Hank Pym the Ant-Man looks like a pretty solid hero and a solid addition to The Avenger’s lineup. He’s a brilliant scientist who invented “Pym Particles,” a gaseous substance that could decrease or increase the size of Pym and other objects, and other technology that let him do weird but surprisingly useful stuff like talk to and control ants.
The Avengers already have super-genius inventor Tony Stark, so to have Hank Pym, yet another super-smart, creative brainiac on the team could only make them even more unbeatable, right? Well, no, there are a few problems with Pym (as well as his successors) that made Ant-Man a volatile figure on The Avenger’s lineup, one who put their lives and also his own at constant risk.
From inventing Ultron, one of the most destructive entities in the universe, to regularly abusing his teammates and anyone else he came in contact with, to his successor using Pym’s gear to go on multiple crime sprees, Ant-Man’s been a problem. But that shouldn’t be a surprise, since Hank Pym, the originator of the Ant-Man suit, size-changing tech, and many other innovations, sadly could not invent a cure for his complete insanity. If this list proves anything, it’s that Pym is on the short list for “Worst Superheroes Ever.”
15. Hank Pym’s Real Superpower: Multiple Personality Disorder
Hank Pym, for a superhero, has a set of characteristics that reads more like a supervillain’s. On top of being a guy with a massive inferiority complex, problems controlling his temper, and creating God-like robots to prove his capability as an inventor, Pym’s also got a bizarre tendency to create new personas for himself in response to whatever inadequacies he feels he has.
On a team with actual God Thor and Captain America, the living legend, Pym no doubt felt that he didn’t measure up. Enter Goliath or his other alter-ego Giant Man. Pym discovered that his particles didn’t just shrink stuff, they could make him enormous and more than capable of fighting superhuman foes. In order to combat his inability to express his feelings to Janet Van Dyne, his brain fragmented after Pym’s exposure to a toxic gas, and he developed another new costume, and a cocky persona called Yellowjacket who didn’t exactly have problems, uh, expressing himself …
14. Married The Wasp, After Kidnapping Her
As Yellowjacket, Pym was a real jerk, to say the least. He was more offense-minded, incorporating powerful stinger blasters, changed his costume to yellow to fit the name, and was overconfident to the point of being a liability to the Avengers. At first, he was even openly hostile to them, telling them upon presenting his new persona that he’d even killed Hank Pym. They didn’t really know what to make of this “New guy.”
As he was confronted by a confused group of Avengers, Yellowjacket knocked out Janet Van Dyne, The Wasp, to keep her from shrinking down. He then grabbed her and jetted off, leaving the rest of the team to wonder about what had just happened. That was only the start of Janet’s problems, though. When she awoke, she quickly deduced that Yellowjacket was Pym, and in a moment of phenomenally bad decision-making, agreed to marry Pym when he asked for her hand as this new, confident persona. Then things got worse.
13. Beat Up On The Wasp
It’s not like Pym and Janet Van Dyne didn’t have a history together. They had first teamed up when Pym revealed that he was Ant-Man after the death of Janet’s father. She adopted the mantle of The Wasp to avenge his death and made use of Pym’s many technological creations to fight supervillains alongside him. However, she mainly married him so as not to mess with Pym’s obviously fragile mental state, so their marriage was basically doomed from the start.
Pym predictably began to take his anger over his perceived inadequacies out on Janet, verbally abusing her and then even physically assaulting her after she discovered his plan to engineer a situation that Pym felt would make him appear essential to the Avengers and that he imagined would make Ant-Man their Most Valuable Player. Didn’t quite work out that way, though …
12. Almost Got The Avengers Killed Trying To Impress Them
Although Hank Pym created Ultron, that wasn’t the only time he created a big, evil, near-invincible robot by either accident or a fit of insanity. This time, Pym’s plan was to unleash a powerful robot called Sal at a court-martial meeting to fight the Avengers, a meeting that was ALSO Pym’s fault, as he had disobeyed Captain America. Seems like Pym had problems with authority on top of whatever other problems he was having that day.
The court-martial was convened to address Pym because he had continued to attack an opponent called the Elfqueen, even after Cap told the other Avengers to stand down. The robot Pym let loose during the meeting had a weakness only he knew about, that would allow him to blast a specific area and shut it down. Because Hank Pym is kind of a loser, The Wasp ended up stopping the robot and then deciding it was time for a divorce, the first good call either of them made in that relationship.
11. Was Mind-Controlled By Ultron, Tried To Kill The Avengers
But that wasn’t the only time Pym as Ant-Man attacked the Avengers. Ultron, as we’ll see soon, was probably the worst thing Hank Pym ever did in his life of pretty awful deeds. Ultron’s goal was to watch the Avengers suffer (and later all of mankind), and came up with numerous plans to accomplish this, although trying to beat them to death with his fists and blasting them with laser beams was usually what ended up happening.
When Ultron snapped Pym out of his Yellowjacket persona using brainwashing, he traveled to the Avengers mansion, thinking he was meeting them for the first time. Upon seeing some unfamiliar faces on the team, Pym attacked the Avengers with a flurry of punches and a veritable army of ants, which proved too unrelenting for even the Avengers to deal with. Basically, Pym wouldn’t be on a team that would have him as a member.
10. Short On Cash, Pym Teamed Up With His Arch-Nemesis
Because of the previous situations above, and probably because Pym was just a hugely annoying jerk to be around, Pym found himself divorced and kicked out of the Avengers. This meant he was cut off from money from both of those sources, as Janet Van Dyne was a massively wealthy heiress, and he found himself penniless and destitute. He could have probably taught science at some Ivy League school, but that’s a bit of a downgrade after saving the world for a living.
So what did Pym do for quick cash? Why, team up with his arch-nemesis, the super-intelligent Egghead, who paid Pym to build a bionic arm for his niece, claiming he felt responsible for her losing it. What actually ended up happening was Egghead claiming he’d put a booby trap in the bionic arm that would go off unless Pym agreed to help him steal the world’s supply of the indestructible metal adamantium. He’s stopped by the Avengers and later finds out the booby trap was a lie. Egghead’s niece was brainwashed to say that the adamantium heist was Pym’s idea, and Pym ended up in jail for treason.
9. Hank Pym Gets A Reality Check From A Supervillain, Contemplates Suicide
Between being Ant-Man, Yellowjacket, Giant-Man, and Goliath, Hank Pym had blown through a bunch of alter egos with little to show for it. Years of big highs and even bigger lows (see the last post) had left him near the end of his rope. He’d lost basically everything, from his marriage to his teammates, and even his various sources of money.
During a fight with Whirlwind, the villain mocked Pym, saying that while he may not be the most high-powered supervillain going, at least he could look in the mirror without wanting to create yet another persona to paper over some kind of insecurity. The accusation that Pym had given up on who he was cut him deeply and after some introspection, he decided to take his own life. It’s just lucky for him that he was stopped at the last second by the superhero Firebird and immediately dropped into a new adventure.
8. Pym Wasn’t The Only Asshole To Be Ant-Man, New Guy’s A Villain
Hank Pym eventually realized “Hey, I’m terrible at this hero stuff, somebody else should take over.” Scott Lang was a thief with good inventions, who steals Pym’s Ant-Man suit in order to help his daughter. Pym was impressed enough by Lang to give him his suit and technology, and the character was so popular that Paul Rudd played Lang in 2015’s Ant-Man film.
However, a modified Ant-Man suit later fell into the hands of an unreformed crook and low-level S.H.I.E.L.D. agent named Eric O’Grady. O’Grady stole the uniform from a S.H.E.I.L.D. base after being tasked with guarding it during an attack. Besides using the suit to rescue attractive women immediately after stealing it, O’Grady also horribly burned Mitch Carson, the man who was originally slated to be Lang’s replacement as Ant-Man and clocked Scott Lang’s super-powered daughter with a bus. Not much of a gentleman …
7. Stole From A Thief, Became A Super Peeping Tom
When O’Grady wasn’t being a fake superhero, he was busy profiting from the crimes of others. When he came across Supervillain Black Fox robbing a jewelry store during an Avengers street fight, O’Grady took the loot for himself in the resulting fracas. When Black Fox eventually tracked him down, O’Grady didn’t have the jewels, as he’d instantly pawned them. Didn’t matter, he and Black Fox became pals (and accomplices) anyway.
Slightly more troubling was O’Grady’s newfound powers giving him the potential to be a super-pervert. A big part of the appeal of being Ant-Man to O’Grady was impressing women with his super-status, but obviously, that wouldn’t work on a massively powerful superhero like Ms. Marvel. Not a problem for O’Grady, who settled for shrinking down to the size of a peanut and camping out on Ms. Marvel’s shower head. Ewww.
6. Got Cozy With His Dead Friend’s Girlfriend
Eric O’Grady was a greedy guy. It wasn’t enough that he now had the Ant-Man suit and Pym’s technology, he’d been eyeing his best friend’s girlfriend for some time, and while fellow S.H.I.E.L.D agent Chris McCarthy died during an attack on base by a brainwashed Wolverine, Eric saw his chance and started wearing down Veronica King immediately afterward. Eric had also been badmouthing Chris in front of Veronica for some time previously because he’s just that kind of guy.
But O’Grady didn’t stop there, as he managed to hit on Veronica as Chris watched him from an air vent as he temporarily wore the Ant-Man armor. After Chris died and Eric took the Ant-Man armor, Eric wore Veronica down and she eventually slept with him, getting pregnant in the process. Eric O’Grady, the not-very-heroic Ant-Man abandoned her, high-tailing it to take advantage of his new suit’s powers to perv on other women. Veronica ended up telling him exactly what she thought about him. But hey, at least Eric as Ant-Man never tried to kill her.
5. Tried To Kill His Wife With Bug Spray
As big a couple of jerks as the normal Marvel universe Eric O’Grady and Hank Pym were, Pym’s Ultimate Marvel (Earth-1610) counterpart was even worse. Ultimate Hank Pym was also a brilliant inventor who suffered from intense insecurity, bouts of schizophrenia, and had a pathological need to control those close to him, be they his teammates in The Ultimates (his world’s version of The Avengers) or his wife.
When The Wasp, Pym’s wife in the Ultimate universe as well, strikes up a friendship with Captain America, Pym takes it badly. He becomes verbally and physically abusive, and when Janet shrinks down to fly away from him, he sprays her with bug spray. Only afterward does he realize what he’s done, and is kicked off the team as a result, Janet also wanting nothing to do with him.
4. Tried To Take Out Captain America
After his all-out assault on The Wasp and expulsion from The Ultimates, Pym was drowning his sorrows in a local bar when in walked Captain America. The Ultimate version of Cap is a stronger, tougher, more soldier-like version of the hero, and has social values more aligned with the 1950s. Cap’s sense of chivalry demands that Pym pays for his transgressions and breaches of trust to his teammates.
After calling Pym a “Meatball,” Cap drags Pym into a back alley, socking him in the gut and demanding he turn himself giant to make it a fair fight. Pym weakly protests that he’s on anti-depressants and just wants to be left alone, but after a few slaps to the face turns giant and tries to crush Cap with a backhoe from a nearby construction site. Not having it, Cap easily dodges and causes a crane-load of pipes to land on Pym, knocking him out. Cap then asks Pym “How big do you feel now,” adding insult to a pretty brutal injury.
3. Chomped The Blob’s Head Off
The thing about Marvel’s “Ultimates” comics is that they weren’t afraid to rack up the body count. During the “Ultimatum” series, several X-Men, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, and many other heroes and villains bit the dust, often in a grotesque fashion. This certainly applies to The Blob, a supervillain who relies on his super-strength and durability to beat his foes to a pulp.
When Ultimate Ant-Man comes upon The Blob eating the dead body of The Wasp while looking for survivors of a cataclysmic event, he understandably blows his cool. While Pym was a wife-beating maniac, he still had feelings for Janet and The Blob had to deal with an enraged, out-of-control Pym, who swiftly grabbed him and chomped his head clean off. Ultimate Hank Pym did not play around, and even the normally chatty Hawkeye had nothing to say when he saw what his teammate was capable of.
2. Was Ultron’s Dad/Inventor
Ultron, recently featured as the main villain in 2015’s Age Of Ultron, is a terrifying prospect. Invented by Pym as the ultimate expression of artificial intelligence, Ultron was supposed to be a force for peace in the world, and aid Pym in his research and heroics. So how did it go awry? Well, Pym based Ultron’s neural pathways on his own totally nutso brain, a surefire recipe for disaster.
Ultron came out all types of wrong, deciding that the best way to solve the world’s problems was to get rid of people in general, and the Avengers in particular. Ultron wasted little time, building himself a nigh-invulnerable adamantium body and constantly attacking The Avengers, coming close to defeating them several times. Ultron is essentially the cross The Avengers, and especially Hank Pym has to bear for the foreseeable future, as Ultron always seems to have a plan to come back from defeat.
1. Hank Pym Basically Became Ultron
After being fooled by Yellowjacket, who faked his death to lure Ultron to an unbreakable ship made of vibranium in order to blast him into space, Ultron was not a happy camper. After landing on Titan, the home of the Eternals, Ultron corrupted their AI and developed spores to infect any life forms they came across, putting them under Ultron’s control. After a long, drawn-out fight with the Avengers to stop this from happening, The Vision, an android with the ability to phase into and disrupt any matter, grabbed Ultron and tried to disable his systems and thwart his plans for assimilating the universe.
Really, what was left for Pym but to fuse together with the ultimate representation of his total insanity and megalomania? Fooling Pym into grabbing him, Ultron fused their physical bodies together and revealed that during his years alone on the ship that was sent into deep space, he discovered that his mind and destructive impulses were based on Pym’s own subconscious hatred of mankind. Pym/Ultron was eventually defeated, resulting in Pym’s apparent death, although he came back for another helping of mayhem. There you have it, Ant-Man’s worst creation was based on the violent and crazy thoughts that he couldn’t quite suppress. Not a great example of a “Superhero,” that’s for sure.
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