On July 17, Marvel Studios will release
, the latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ant-Man
Casual comic book fans may not be aware of this, but Ant-Man was one of the very first superheroes to emerge in the Marvel Universe. Ant-Man co-founded the
Avengers with the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and the Wasp. The original Ant-Man, Hank Pym went on to create several new heroic personas while remaining a vital part of the Avengers for over fifty years.
When Hank Pym abandoned the Ant-Man identity, it was taken up by Scott Lang. And during Lang’s absence in the 2000s, a third Ant-Man emerged: Eric O’Grady.
Director Peyton Reed’s
Ant-Man movie embraces the idea of multiple Ant-Men, with Paul Rudd starring as Scott Lang, and Michael Douglas appearing as his mentor, Hank Pym. However, the film will primarily focus on Lang’s efforts to reinvent himself as a hero while helping Pym ensure that his technology doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
, Marvel’s detractors are predicting that Guardians of the Galaxy Ant-Man could be Marvel’s first flop. But with the marketing power of Disney and Marvel behind it, that seems unlikely. Matching the opening weekend box office of Guardians of the Galaxy may be a tall order, but as long as Marvel Studios can convince moviegoers that Ant-Man is a fun film to watch, then the audience will show up for it.
However, it is true that Ant-Man’s comic book history is a little impenetrable to people who don’t read comics. Fortunately, SuperHeroHype’s Origins and Evolutions has you covered. Everything you need to know about all three Ant-Men is right here!
On a desktop, click Full Screen to read each entry!
Origins and Evolutions: Ant-Man
Tales To Astonish
The story of Hank Pym began in 1962, but not as Ant-Man. In fact, there weren’t even plans for Ant-Man when Pym first appeared in
Tales to Astonish # 27.
As created by writer, Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber and penciler Jack Kirby, Hank Pym was simply a scientist who shrunk himself and became trapped in an ant hill with an entire colony of ants.
Pym survived his ordeal, and the issue sold well. This inspired Lee to revisit Pym a few issues later.
The Return of The Ant-Man
Later in 1962, Pym made his superhero debut in
Tales to Astonish #35 as Ant-Man. While the costume chosen for Ant-Man wasn’t as instantly iconic, it survived relatively unchanged for several decades.
While in the Ant-Man suit, Pym was able to shrink at will and restore himself to human size. The Ant-Man helmet also allowed Pym to communicate with ants and control them if necessary.
Pym's stories were featured in every issue of
Tales to Astonish until #65. At that point, the Hulk became the primary focus of the series.
No recap of Hank Pym’s history would be complete without Janet Van Dyne. Pym had previously been married to a woman named Maria, who is believed to have been kidnapped and killed by Communists during her first appearance in
Tales to Astonish #44 in 1963.
Janet Van Dyne made her debut in that same issue, courtesy of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Janet’s father, Vernon Van Dyne was murdered by an invading alien that Vernon accidentally summoned to his lab. Janet asked Pym to help her avenge her father’s death, and he gave her the ability to shrink and grow insect wings on her back.
As the Wasp, Janet Van Dyne was Ant-Man’s partner in danger...and later, his romantic partner as well. The Wasp also became one of the most prominent heroines in the Marvel Universe and she led the Avengers on multiple occasions.
Our visit to the revealed that the original Wasp will be in the movie for at least a cameo appearance. Evangeline Lilly will play Hope Van Dyne, the daughter of Hank and Janet. Ant-Man set
The Avengers began as Marvel’s answer to the Justice League. And like the Justice League, the team was made up of pre-existing superheroes.
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were once again the creative team for the first adventure of the Avengers, which featured Loki framing the Hulk for needless destruction in order to pit his brother, Thor against the Hulk.
Iron Man, Wasp, Ant-Man also answered the call for help, and the five heroes eventually realized that Loki was the real threat. They defeated him as a team, and decided to stay together as the Avengers, with the Wasp coining the name of the team.
Shortly thereafter, the Hulk left the team, but the remaining Avengers discovered Captain America frozen in ice before they revived him and invited him to become an Avenger as well.
Avengers #2, Pym changed his heroic identity to Giant-Man. Instead of using his patented Pym particles to shrink, he now used them to grow up to 12 feet tall; which also enhanced his strength.
Several years later, a retconned explanation for this suggested that Pym felt inadequate around Thor and Iron Man, prompting him to find a way to become the more powerful Giant-Man. Fourteen issues later, Giant-Man, Wasp, Thor, and Iron Man left the Avengers, as Captain America took over the team with Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver as the new members.
Pym rejoined the Avengers in #28, which also marked his debut as Goliath. Now, Pym was able to grow even larger and stronger than before.
However, Pym soon found himself stuck at that larger size, which added a touch of pathos to his character.
Eventually, Pym regained control of his powers and stayed with the team.
The Marvel Super Heroes TV (1966)
Giant-Man, Wasp, and several other Marvel characters made their animation debuts in “The Marvel Super Heroes.” The cartoon was produced by Grantray-Lawrence Animation, and it featured very crude adaptations of the earliest Marvel stories with limited animation.
Still, this series represents an important milestone for Marvel’s characters. And it would be far from the last time that the Avengers appeared in animation.
Avengers: Age of Ultron asked viewers to accept Tony Stark and Bruce Banner as the creators of Ultron. But in Marvel’s original comics, it was Hank Pym who created Ultron.
Pym’s experiment with artificial intelligence went horribly wrong when Ultron decided that humanity needed to be eliminated. Ultron brainwashed Pym into forgetting about him, while the robot went off and rebuilt itself into one of the Avengers’ greatest foes.
Years later, it was revealed that Pym used his own brainwaves as a template for Ultron, which explained why Pym always carried the guilt for the actions of his murderous creation.
Right around this time, Pym started displaying signs of schizophrenia and a personality disorder. After a lab accident, Pym was feared dead. He reappeared as Yellowjacket, a much cockier hero who bragged that he had killed Pym.
The Wasp was the only Avenger who initially realized that Pym was Yellowjacket, so she took the opportunity to marry him (!) before the Circus of Crime attacked the ceremony and Pym remembered who he really was. Pym basically shrugged off the way that he was tricked into marriage and he kept using the Yellowjacket identity.
Hey... no one ever said that comics aren’t weird!
Ant-Man For All The Wrong Reasons
Aside from a brief stint as Ant-Man during the Kree-Skrull War and seven issues of
Marvel Feature in 1973, Pym largely left that identity behind.
But in 1978’s
Avengers #161, Ultron brainwashed Pym into reverting to Ant-Man and he tricked him into attacking the Avengers. Meanwhile, Ultron captured and stripped Janet Pym before convincing Pym to transfer Janet’s mind into a female android who was later known as Jocasta. It was actually Jocasta herself who alerted the Avengers to come save the day.
And hey, it’s totally not weird at all that Pym eventually had a romantic relationship with the android who was based on his presumably dead wife’s brainwaves. It’s just comics.
Now it’s time to introduce the second Ant-Man, Scott Lang. As created by writer David Michelinie and artist John Byrne, Lang was a small-time thief who made his first appearance in
Avengers #181. But Lang became Ant-Man in Marvel Premiere #47, when he stole Hank Pym’s costume so he could save the life of his daughter, Cassie.
Lang discovered that Darren Cross (the main villain from the
Ant-Man movie) was holding renowned heart surgeon, Doctor Erica Sondheim, captive and he used the Ant-Man suit to save her so she could in turn save Cassie’s life.
Pym was impressed by Lang’s actions and he refused to let him turn himself in. Instead, Pym invited Lang to keep the suit and become the new Ant-Man.
Barring a few years in which he was “comic book dead,” Lang has been Marvel’s Ant-Man ever since.
The Tiny Trio
Pym eventually introduced Lang to the rest of the Avengers when the Wasp was being held captive by a secretive organization. As Ant-Man and Yellowjacket, they freed the Wasp and soon found themselves facing Taskmaster, a villain who could imitate the moves of anyone that he saw.
Out of all of the Avengers, only Jocasta proved too unpredictable for Taskmaster, which forced him to flee.
Fall From Grace
By the early ‘80s, Hank Pym was in a dark place. Yellowjacket was suspended by the Avengers for attacking a foe from behind after they had stopped fighting. Pym suffered a mental breakdown, and he came up with a plan to con the Avengers into dropping the court martial. When Janet Pym discovered this and tried to stop him, Pym hit her.
This moment tarnished Pym’s character for decades and led to the end of his marriage with Janet. Pym was eventually framed by his old enemy, Egghead and he was imprisoned. But that wasn’t good enough for Egghead, who tried to goad Pym into suicide. After his involvement with Pym’s downfall was exposed, Egghead was accidentally killed by Hawkeye.
Cleared of all charges, Hank Pym retired as a superhero and devoted his life to science.
Right. Like that retirement was ever going to stick!
Instead, Pym found himself working alongside Hawkeye in the newly-formed West Coast Avengers team. But this time, Pym refused to put on a costume and become a superhero again. Instead, Pym assisted the team as himself, while wearing a red jumpsuit that was so hideous, it could have only come from the ‘80s.
During Pym’s time with the West Coast Avengers, his ex-wife, Janet also joined the team and they eventually rekindled their romance. That led to several years of an on-and-off-again relationship between them.
Before the Wasp moved to the west coast, she was the only remaining Avenger after the Masters of Evil decimated the team and took over Avengers Mansion. Scott Lang’s Ant-Man was the first hero to answer Wasp’s desperate request for help, and together they defeated the Absorbing Man and Titania.
With Lang’s aid, the Wasp formed an emergency team of Avengers who took back the mansion and saved their teammates. After the emergency was over, Lang departed.
During his career as Ant-Man, Lang has been associated with the Defenders and the Heroes for Hire. But outside of the Avengers, Lang’s most prominent role on a superhero team was with the Fantastic Four.
When Reed Richards and Doctor Doom were missing and presumed dead, Lang was hired by Susan Richards to be the Fantastic Four’s new technical advisor and the defacto fourth member of the team.
Much to Lang’s annoyance, his daughter Cassie became emotionally attached to Kristoff Vernard, the young adoptive heir to Doctor Doom who was also working with the team at the time.
Lang had two additional stints with the Fantastic Four: including once when the team was trapped in the Negative Zone and the other time ended fairly recently. But we’ll get to that one soon enough.
A Giant-Sized Revival
During the ‘90s, Pym finally revived his Giant-Man persona and became a superhero again. In the aftermath of the
Heroes Return event in 1997, writer Kurt Busiek and artist George Perez gave Pym a new costume that incorporated elements from both Ant-Man and Giant-Man.
Late in Busiek’s run, Pym’s Yellowjacket persona reemerged as a separate person, due to Pym’s exposure to a magic spell. The two Hank Pyms were eventually merged back together, but he kept the Yellowjacket identity.
The Avengers: United They Stand (1999)
In 1999, Fox finally gave the Avengers their own animated series. However, many fans probably wish that they had not.
Hank Pym’s Ant-Man and Giant-Man personas were heavily featured in "The Avengers: United They Stand," but the series left Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor from the regular lineup. Instead, the team consisted of Pym, Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Falcon, Hawkeye, Vision, Tigra and Wonder Man.
That’s pretty close to the lineup for the West Coast Avengers, which could have been forgivable if the series had been more true to the source material. The thing that really pisses off Marvel fans is the way that this animated series came up with an excuse to put the Avengers in power armor every episode. It felt very Super Sentai. And if you don’t know what that means, just think of the Power Rangers and then it should become clear.
"The Avengers: United They Stand" ran for only a single season, and it would take just over a decade before the Avengers had their own animated TV show again.
The Ultimate Universe was not kind to Hank Pym.
Writer Mark Millar and artist Bryan Hitch’s 2002 comic book series,
The Ultimates is widely credited with laying the groundwork for the eventual Marvel Cinematic Universe, particularly in the way that they cast Samuel L. Jackson’s likeness as Nick Fury years before he was signed to appear as the character onscreen.
But Millar and Hitch portrayed Pym as a serial spouse abuser who terrorized Janet Pym. In one of the issues, Pym doused Janet with bug spray and he set his ants upon her because she made him "look small.”
On top of that, the series continuously portrayed Pym as a mentally fragile loser who was kicked out of the team and he even betrayed the Ultimates to the Liberators before switching sides when it became clear who would win the conflict.
Pym’s last moments in the Ultimate Universe came within the embarrassingly bad pages of the
Ultimatum miniseries (by writer Jeph Loeb and artist David Finch) in which Pym bit the head off of the Blob for eating half of Janet’s body. Soon after that, Pym was killed by Madrox the Multiple Man’s suicide bombers.
Let’s just pretend that didn’t happen.
Writer Brian Michael Bendis brought Scott Lang into
Alias, his mature readers comic book that introduced Jessica Jones to the Marvel Universe. Jessica was a former superheroine turned private investigator who had numerous personal issues after being tormented by the Purple Man for an extended period of time. Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos’ portrayal of Jessica Jones is the basis for the upcoming Netflix series of the same name.
Scott Lang was eventually introduced to Jessica and the two began dating, including one memorable sequence in which they blew off a superhero battle (in which they would have been superfluous) in order to continue their date.
However, Lang and Jessica broke up when it was clear that she had stronger feelings for Luke Cage, whom she eventually married.
Around the same time, Scott Lang’s Ant-Man was finally a full-time Avenger after his ex-wife got full custody of their daughter, Cassie. While on the team, Lang’s Ant-Man costume got a hideous redesign that lost the charm that his previous costume had.
Lang also developed an antagonistic relationship with his new teammate, Jack of Hearts. But Lang was deeply moved when Jack helped him save Cassie from a child murderer before Jack allowed his unstable powers to kill himself and the murderer.
Writer Brian Michael Bendis took over the
Avengers comic in 2004, and the very first thing that he did was to kill off Scott Lang. Because of some dark magic from the Scarlet Witch, Jack of Hearts was reanimated as a living corpse and summoned to Avengers Mansion. Lang went out to greet Jack, and he was seemingly killed in an explosion when Jack destroyed himself and the mansion as a prelude for “the worst day in Avengers history.”
Lang would have probably stayed dead too, if the
Ant-Man movie had never come about.
After the death of her father, Cassie Lang developed size-changing powers of her own. Calling herself Stature, Cassie joined the Young Avengers, a new team of heroes inspired by the actual Avengers. During the superhero
Civil War, Cassie and the other Young Avengers sided with Captain America. However, Cassie eventually switched sides when she became disillusioned by the conflict.
Cassie was a part of the Avengers Initiative until the alien Skrull’s
Secret Invasion. In the aftermath, Cassie joined Hank Pym’s Mighty Avengers team.
With Scott Lang gone, the Marvel Universe had no Ant-Man. Enter Eric O’Grady!
As conceived by
The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and artist Phil Hester, O’Grady was a low-level S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who stole one of Hank Pym’s Ant-Man suits and proceeded to use it for extremely selfish reasons. For example, he took the Ant-Man costume off of his best friend, Chris’ body, and he proceeded to seduce Chris’ girlfriend, Veronica.
O’Grady also used the Ant-Man suit to steal and to spy on women. After all, there’s a reason he’s called...
The Irredeemable Ant-Man
This is one of the most infamous scenes from
The Irredeemable Ant-Man, as O’Grady invited himself to watch Ms. Marvel (AKA Carol Danvers) take a shower. O’Grady’s perviness is one of his defining characteristics.
Late in the series, O’Grady was exposed as the thief of the Ant-Man suit, but Tony Stark and Hank Pym reluctantly gave the suit back to him because he was better at using it than any of the other candidates to take over the role. Given a chance to redeem himself, O’Grady promised his then current girlfriend, Abigail that he would try to be a better person.
After the Skrull Invasion was thwarted, O’Grady was placed on Norman Osborn’s personally selected team of Thunderbolts. Despite O’Grady’s generally poor ethics, even he was horrified by Osborn’s agenda and the unbridled villainy of some of his teammates.
O’Grady and his Thunderbolt teammate, Paladin eventually turned on Osborn’s Thunderbolts during the
Siege of Asgard. Together, they kept their teammates from giving Osborn the Spear of Odin, which could have ensured his victory over the Avengers and the Asgardians.
Because O’Grady once helped Captain America while he was a Thunderbolt, he was given a chance to join Steve Rogers’ Secret Avengers on numerous covert missions. Although O’Grady was still a coward at heart, he proved to be unexpectedly effective on this team.
The Avengers’ moral character must have rubbed off on O’Grady, as he laid down his life to protect a child from the Descendents, a murderous group of androids.
Despite his flaws, Eric O'Grady died well.
O’Grady miraculously survived his apparent death. Except there was nothing apparent about it. O’Grady was really dead, and the thing that looked like him was just an advanced Life Model Decoy android that was programmed with O’Grady’s memories and personality.
Now serving the android known as Father, the O’Grady LMD began calling itself the Black Ant and it turned on the Secret Avengers. Once the conflict between the Avengers and the Descendents was over, the Black Ant disappeared.
The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (2010)
"The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes" was the first animated series to get the Avengers right. The show drew upon Marvel’s decades of comic book stories and the Marvel Cinematic Universe for a very faithful rendition of the characters.
Hank Pym was present as one the founding members of the Avengers, and he assumed the Ant-Man, Giant-Man, and the Yellowjacket personas throughout the show’s two-season run. Unlike his comic book counterpart, this version of Pym was a pacifist who didn’t enjoy the idea of being a superhero or solving his problems with violence. However, this Pym shared some of the original’s mental instability, which became clear when he assumed the Yellowjacket identity near the end of the second season.
Later in the series, Scott Lang appeared as well, and assumed the role of Ant-Man.
Hank Pym Has Issues
Secret Invasion, it was revealed that Hank Pym had been captured by Skrulls sometime after Avengers Disassembled and he was replaced by an alien shapeshifter. The Skrull Pym gave Janet Van Dyne a growth formula that was actually a bio-weapon designed to kill her and everyone around her when it activated.
Janet’s apparent death left Pym more than a little broken upon his return. He adopted her powers and her codename, the Wasp, as a tribute to her. Which would have been fine...if he hadn’t also initiated a romantic relationship with Jocasta, the android who had Janet’s brainwaves and most of her memories.
Even in the comic book world, the other Avengers were kind of freaked out by Pym’s new robosexual status. Aside from that, this was actually one of Pym’s best stints as a hero and he was an effective leader of the Mighty Avengers.
Not So Dead After All
Of course, it turned out that Janet Van Dyne had never actually died at all. Instead, she was trapped in the Microverse for about a year. And do you know who else never died? Scott Lang!
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade miniseries, the Young Avengers tracked down the Scarlet Witch and went back in time to the day that Scott Lang died at Avengers Mansion. Despite being told that it was impossible, Cassie Lang embraced her father and accidentally brought him to the present, thus negating his death.
But the Lang family reunion was cut short by a battle with Doctor Doom. While making his escape, Doom killed Cassie, leaving Scott Lang to mourn his only daughter.
After his return, Lang briefly joined the Defenders. But he was soon asked to stand in for Reed Richards as the new leader of the Future Foundation while the Fantastic Four took a family trip through space and time. Lang, Medusa, She-Hulk, and Ms. Thing (Darla Deering) were left as the replacement Fantastic Four when the original team did not return as planned.
However, the Future Foundation children did not immediately warm up to Lang, given his single minded determination to make Doctor Doom pay for what he had done to Cassie.
Ant-Man vs. Doctor Doom!
Doctor Doom was at the center of a cosmic conspiracy against the Future Foundation, and he blackmailed Alex Powers into spying on Lang and the rest of the team. But this time, Lang outmaneuvered Doom and laid out his plan to take down the man who murdered his daughter.
Amazingly, Lang’s plan was executed to near perfection, as he soundly defeated Doom in battle. Lang even discovered new aspects of the Pym particles that even Hank Pym had never fully understood. Lang also won the affections of Darla Deering, and they began dating at the end of the
Avengers Assemble (2013)
Scott Lang has made a few appearances in the "Avengers Assemble" animated series. Unlike the previous Avengers animated series, the Scott Lang of this world appears to have a greater background in science and a closer working relationship with the Avengers.
While teaming with the Avengers, Lang’s Ant-Man has gone up against MODOK, Ultron, and even Fin Fang Foom before being welcomed on to the team.
Resurrection Runs In The Family
Axis storyline, Doctor Doom’s moral compass was flipped, and he desperately wanted to atone for his sins. While Doom’s ambitions for the Scarlet Witch’s stolen powers were ultimately thwarted, he did Scott Lang the incredible favor of bringing Cassie Lang back from the dead.
From a story perspective, Doom’s actions didn’t make a lot of sense. Doom has hurt many, many people in his career as a supervillain. Why single Scott Lang out for reparations?
This was probably done so that Lang could once again have his daughter in his life to better match up with the status quo of the
Ant-Man: The Ongoing Series
Earlier this year, Marvel Comics finally gave Scott Lang his own ongoing series as
Ant-Man. Writer Nick Spencer and artist Ramon Rosanas are the primary creative team of the new Ant-Man comic, which takes place after Axis as Lang gets used to being a father to Cassie again.
Lang even relocated to Florida to be closer to Cassie, but she was kidnapped by the villain Crossfire in a bid to revive Darren Cross, just in time for Cross’ appearance in the
Ant-Man is ending during Secret Wars, but it will likely be relaunched during the All-New, All-Different Marvel event this fall.
It’s been a long, strange journey to get
Ant-Man into movie theaters. Marvel has been trying to get an Ant-Man film made since the ‘80s!
In 2000, Marvel signed a deal with Artisan Entertainment to co-produce and finance an
Ant-Man movie several years before Marvel Studios was officially formed. Director Edgar Wright and his writing partner, Joe Cornish, made their first Ant-Man pitch all the way back in 2003. But it wasn’t until 2006 that Marvel Studios officially signed the duo to develop Ant-Man.
Think about it.
Ant-Man could have been one of the very first Marvel Studios pictures! If that had happened, then perhaps Ant-Man and the Wasp would have been in the first two Avengers movies. But Ant-Man was plagued by delays, and Wright worked on several projects in the interim.
Last year, Wright and Marvel reached a creative impasse, and he left the movie after spending the last decade trying to get it made. Wright and Cornish retain a screenplay credit on Marvel’s
Ant-Man, but Paul Rudd and Adam McKay wrote a new draft for the film’s replacement director, Peyton Reed.
In the film, Rudd will portray Scott Lang, the second Ant-Man, with Michael Douglas as an older Hank Pym, Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne, and Corey Stoll as Darren Cross. That’s a pretty solid cast, and if the film is even half as good as we want it to be then it has the potential to be a hit.
The question now is how will fans respond to
Ant-Man? We’ll know the answer to that in just a few weeks.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
There is no
Ant-Man sequel on Marvel’s film timeline through the end of Phase 3 in 2019. But let’s be optimistic and assume that Ant-Man is a hit: does anyone really think that there won’t be an Ant-Man sequel sooner than 2020?!
Because if Marvel does have another blockbuster on its hands then there’s absolutely no way that the studio will wait half a decade to capitalize on it.
In the meantime, Paul Rudd is slated to appear in
Avengers 2.5 aka Captain America: Civil War. It’s not clear what role Ant-Man will play in the story or if his appearance is anything more than a cameo.
And in the conflict between Captain America and Iron Man, which side is Scott Lang going to choose?