Who is Ant-Man, the Arthropod Avenger?

Ant-Man: “My days of breaking into places and stealing $#!% are over. What do you want me to do?
Hank Pym: “I want you to break into a place and steal some $#!%.”
Ant-Man: “… Makes sense.

– Ant-Man (2015)

A squad of mercenaries bursts into a laboratory, killing everyone they see. They have orders to steal the lab’s advanced technology and eliminate any witnesses. The lead merc shoots a scientist who disappears. An invisible force hurls the soldier across the room. Another soldier sees a tiny man knock out someone fifty times his size and opens fire.

The tiny figure disappears in the gunfire. An army of ants swarms the mercs, biting and clawing for all they’re worth. A crazed soldier pulls out a flamethrower and incinerates his friends to kill the ants. The tiny figure reappears, growing to giant size and knocks out the flame-happy merc. “I lose more labs this way” Ant-Man sighs.

Ant-Man is an under-appreciated superhero. He’s not as showy as Thor or as popular as Spider-Man, but he is one of Marvel’s most terrifying heroes. He’s fought Godzilla, defeated the Masters of Evil solo, and created Ultron. So who is he? How terrifying could he be? Where’s Uncle-Woman? Let’s find out.

Hank Pym: Scientist Supreme

[A group of Frost Giants approach an unconscious Wasp]

Ant-Man: “Jotunheim, huh. Well guys, [turns into Giant-Man] I’m pretty sure you’re not too interested in talking this out. [picks up an axe] And neither am I.”

– Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes “Fall of Asgard” (Season 1, Episode 25)

There are plenty of Ant-Men out there, so we’ll just cover the original and the movie star. Hank Pym debuted in Tales to Astonish #27 in 1962. He was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby because they created every character in the ’60s.

Hank Pym was a scientist who discovered Pym Particles, which allowed him to make things change size. Like any good scientist shouldn’t, Hank tested the particles on himself and was trapped in an ant hill. He survived and was inspired to create a helmet to control ants. He used his inventions to become the Ant-Man.

Ant-Man fell in love with Janet van Dyne during a shared adventure. He gave her superpowers and nicknamed her The Wasp. The pair soon joined a group of heroes that they named The Avengers. Ant-Man changed his gimmick to growing and adopted the identity Giant-Man because the other Avengers made him feel small.

Hank and Janet were married for a brief time, but the stress of changing size screwed with Hank’s mind and triggered a mental breakdown. He became  confrontational and created the mechanized menace Ultron while experimenting with robotics and AI. Giant-Man’s breakdown boiled over, and he staged a giant robot attack that only he could stop.

The Wasp tried convincing Hank to stop, but he infamously backhanded her. The scriptwriter meant for the hit to be accidental while he was gesturing wildly, but the artist misinterpreted it as intentional.

The Avengers managed to destroy the robot and expelled Giant-Man. Hank eventually redeemed himself, but has had to struggle with the stigma of hitting his wife. Oh, and creating the genocidal Ultron. That was bad too.

Scott Lang: Reformed Rogue

[Scott has just saved his daughter with Hank’s help]

Scott Lang: “Thank you. I’ll hand over all your equipment and then turn myself in.
Hank Pym: [wry grin] “Ant-Man was on an undercover mission for The Avengers. They’ll explain the bank robberies to the police.”
Scott: “I don’t… I’m not Ant-Man?
Hank: “You are now.

– Avengers: EMH “To Steal an Ant-Man” (Season 2, Episode 5)

Scott Lang debuted in Avengers #181 in 1979. He was created by David Michelinie and John Byrne.

Scott Lang was an electrical engineer who turned to crime to support his family. He was arrested, but released early for good behavior. Iron Man hired him to develop a security system for the Avengers’ headquarters. A villain kidnapped his daughter and demanded Scott tell him how to get past the defenses.

Scott stole the Ant-Man costume and tech, using them to save his daughter. He tried returning the equipment, but Hank convinced Scott to become Ant-Man. The new superhero joined The Avengers and was instrumental in several missions.

Ant-Man was seemingly killed by the Scarlet Witch in Avengers Disassembled, but was later revealed to be time traveling. Can you say cop out? Ant-Man was forced to become a double agent in Secret Empire and has joined the Guardians of the Galaxy to let the heat die down.

Tiny Titan: Ant-Man’s Powers and Personality

Hank Pym: “You think that’s a toy tank on my key ring?
[cut to outside where they burst out of a building in a tank]

– Ant-Man (2015)

Ant-Man can change at a moment’s notice. Shrinking concentrates his mass, giving him superhuman strength. Ant-Man has also been known to enter people’s bodies and attack from inside. Ant-Man can also grow to giant size, gaining superhuman stamina and durability. Size-shifting screws with body chemistry, so changing too often can cause side effects. See a doctor if they last longer than four hours.

Ant-Man’s scariest weapon is a helmet that lets him communicate with ants. He flies around on carpenter ants and can unleash swarms that completely cover enemies. He uses unpredictable “Crazy Ants” for spying, fire ants to construct paths, and bullet ants to attack his enemies. Real-world entomologist Justin Schmidt compared a bullet ant bite to “…walking over flaming charcoal with a three-inch nail embedded in your heel”.

Anyone else feeling real buggy right now? Props to any entomophobe who’s gotten this far.

Hank Pym has mastered countless sciences, from cybernetics and biology to stuff that only exists in the Marvel Universe. He suffers from poor self-esteem and depression. He attempted suicide but was stopped by his friends. He has since become a teacher, hoping to help young superheroes avoid making his mistakes.

Scott Lang’s engineer skills are a counterpoint to Pym’s mastery of science. He often finds new uses for the technology that Pym and other scientists create. He is underhanded and cunning, but will do anything to protect his daughter Cassie. He even betrayed the Avengers to a Nazi Captain America (long story) to save her.

The Actors who play Ant-Man

Hank Pym made his debut in The Marvel Super Heroes and was voiced by Tom Harvey. NFL player Rod Wilson voiced Ant-Man in The Avengers: United they Stand. Character actor John Payne played the role in Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes. Ant-Man was a main character in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and voiced by Wally Wingert. Finally, Nolan North voiced him in Ultimate Avengers 1 and 2.

Scott Lang made his debut in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, voiced by Crispin Freeman. Grant George voices him in Disney’s animated Marvel universe. Josh Keaton voiced Ant-Man in the short series of the same name.

Ant-Man finally got a movie in 2015 after years in Development Hell. Two-time Oscar winner Michael Douglas played Hank Pym as a bitter scientist and retired superhero. Comedian Paul Rudd played Scott Lang. He reprised the role for Captain America: Civil War and both will return for 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp.

Didya get all that?

This guy just bugs me.

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