Ah Ant-Man. The black sheep of Marvel Studios. The product of what was once the geekiest and most exciting creative pairing, only to be stifled by creative divorce. Never have we seen a modern comic book movie with this amount of baggage. It had so much baggage that it came to a point wherein people were wondering if it still made sense to make this film, if it was still worth pursuing. It is after all a film about a superhero who shrinks and communicates with ants. At least Guardians had 5 misfits who shared the burden of possibly being a poor sell. This one has it tough.
Ant-Man had a lot resting on it but as the fates would have it, Marvel Studios pushed through. As we saw Edgar Wright depart, we saw Peyton Reed step up. Bless the man for believing in himself and the project. Despite the inevitable fact that Peyton will get a lot shit if this fails, he still took on the project and brought it to life.
Hate on the guy if you want, but the man makes his love for the material no secret and is said to not have missed a single Comic-Con since its inception. If that doesn’t account for an ounce of geekiness (which this project needs) then I do not know what will. The film is in damn good hands. Ant-Man still remains an exciting project just like when it began.
With the trailer landing in a couple of hours, let the Ant-Man hype commence.
The Irredeemable Ant-Men
To begin with, Ant-Man is a damn hard character to pull off and to like. With a very 80s b-movie ability; shrinking and talking to insects, it’s honestly a surprise to see Ant-Man not be the butt of jokes like Aquaman was. But what’s great about a power as ridiculous as this is that it has so much potential to simply be fun.
There have been several Ant-Man-esque characters throughout Marvel history but 3 prominent ones: Hank Pym, Scott Lang and Eric O’ Grady.
Hank Pym is the OG Ant-Man. A very flawed icon within the comic book world, he discovered/invented the very iconic Pym Particles and is a founding member of the Avengers. He marries socialite Janet Van Dyne who in turn becomes the Wasp and the two have been sort of superhero-ing since then. He leads several organizations in the comics, mentoring both young heroes and seasoned heroes. But despite all his accomplishments he is sadly known for hitting his wife and creating a sentient genocidal weapon of mass destruction that goes by the name of Ultron.
Self-destructive and self-loathing, the pain that Hank Pym had to endure in his life resulted in him developing several personalities. It was during this period that Hank Pym went through an identity crisis, donning varying superhero codenames such as Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket and at one point the Wasp. Amidst all these flaws, Pym still continues to redeem himself of his darkest days.
Arguably the most likeable among the Ant-Men, Scott Lang is the star of the film and is likely to become the modern definitve Ant-Man character in the books. A thief turned hero, Scott Lang steals the Pym Particles in a desperate attempt to save his daughter’s ailing health. Seeing the goodness in him, Pym allows Lang to continue the Ant-Man legacy and join the Avengers.
Due to the unstable mental state and powers of Scarlet Witch, Scott Lang is eventually killed in the event Avengers: Disassembled. His death along with Hawkeye’s and Vision’s, disbands the Avengers. His daughter Cassie continues her father’s legacy by donning the name Stature and by joining the Young Avengers. In Avengers: Children’s Crusade, Cassie is killed by Doctor Doom – in a cruel twist of fate – just as Scott Lang comes back to life. Cassie’s death inspires Scott Lang to continue and honor his daughter’s legacy by doing more good in the world.
Not officially included in the film but Eric O’ Grady is worth a mention. The biggest piece of shit among the three, Eric O’ Grady is a fan favorite we all sure would love to see in future films. As his tagline “World’s Most UNLIKABLE Super Hero” goes, he is a low ranking SHIELD agent who stumbles upon the Pym Particles and decides to finally fulfill all those things he never got to do.
Remember the Galaga scene in Avengers? It’s a running joke/theory among fans that the guy playing Galaga could be a really cool jumping-off point for introducing Eric O’ Grady in the MCU. I know, it’s a bit random but hey, I think that would be a good idea for a One-Shot.
The Pym Particles
It is Hank Pym’s greatest invention and contribution to superhero kind. The Pym Particles have been incorporated thoroughly into Marvel’s mythology and I’m hoping that it stays in the MCU beyond Ant-Man. This comic book panel exemplifies the importance of Hank Pym’s discovery and Scott Lang’s use of it.
So many of Marvel’s characters owe its due to the particles. Characters like Wonder Man, Atlas/Goliath/Erik Josten and even Hawkeye all made use or benefited from the particles. It’s also been used by many heroes for varying purposes. For instance, Hawkeye loves using them, as seen here.
What happens when you give the most ruthless and violent vigilante Punisher those particles?
And here is Shang-Chi going all Pacific Rim thanks to those particles.
Remember how visually exciting that test footage was? That is only the tip of the ice-berg on how the abilities of Ant-Man could play out. Imagine what they could do on a full scale budget.
If you’re interested in the character but do not know where to start, here’s a bunch of reading recommendations:
- Tales to Astonish #37 onwards (Hank Pym’s origin)
- Marvel Premiere: The Astonishing Ant-Man #47 & #48 (Scott Lang’s origin)
- The Ultimates Vol. 1 & 2 (Hank Pym)
- Mighty Avengers Vol. 1 (Hank Pym)
- Avengers Academy (Hank Pym)
- Avengers AI (Hank Pym)
- Age of Ultron #10 AI (Hank Pym)
- Marvel NOW! Future Foundation (Scott Lang)
- The Irredeemable Ant-Man (Eric O’ Grady)
- Secret Avengers (Eric O’ Grady)
- the upcoming Ant-Man comic (Scott Lang)
What We Know
1. Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas will be the two Ant-Men
We know that Paul Fucking Rudd is leading this movie. You can take out Edgar Wright out of the equation but at the end of the day, it’s how Paul Rudd is in the film that is going to save it or not. You could not have a better Scott Lang than Paul Rudd. The dude is lovable, recognizable and can carry a film. Kevin Feige puts it:
“Look at that origin of the petty crook who comes into contact with a suit and does his best to make good, and then look at someone like Paul Rudd, who can do slightly unsavory things like break into people’s houses and still be charming and who you root for and whose redemption you will find satisfaction in.“
This is notably Rudd’s first blockbuster lead role and just like how Robert Downey memserized us with a lovable wiseass, Paul Rudd will do the same as Scott Lang.
Michael Douglas as Hank Pym is one of the ingenious creative decisions in the MCU. You’re introducing an established Hank Pym who is seasoned, smarter, that has been places, that has seen and probably shit and – in a way – putting him above his comic book counterpart.
Now Hank Pym in the comics has always had a sense of inferiority when put up against other science bros in the Marvel community such as Stark or Reed Richards. It’s a huge part of his personality and factors in the bleak path he eventually goes through but what his comic book counterpart had in terms of inferiority compared to his scientific colleagues, the film character at the least makes up for. In short, MCU Hank Pym might have it better than 616 Hank Pym and that is a sweet change for the character.
2. Hope Van Dyne will be the daughter of two superheroes
“I was raised by two superheroes. So, I’m a pretty screwed up human being. I am also fairly capable, strong, and kick-ass, which is wonderful to play, but the most fun to play was just how messed up she was from being raised by two superheroes. And the clear message sent by name is that I’m not a big fan of my father and so I took my mother’s name.” – Evangeline Lily
It has been confirmed many times that Evangeline Lily will be playing Hope Van Dyne, a character absent from the main timeline (616) of the comics who happens to be the daughter of Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne. An obscure character, Hope Pym in the comics is a supervillain known as the Red Queen. Seemingly the film’s version of the character barely resembles this version. The fact that the general audience’s first introduction to Ant-Man will focus on a daughter not-seen in the mainstream comics angered a lot of fans. Where the fuck is Janet? How are you take a founding Avenger away from the focus!
Eh whatever. I think its a cool idea. It’s a creative liberty that establishes things that sort of pay homage to the events of the comics. The fact that she has her mother’s name really gives you an idea on the relationship her parents had with each other and with Hope. Hank and Janet in the books have always had a rocky relationship to begin with and this gives perfect emphasis on that.
Now it’s been a contention whether we see Hope don the costume and namesake of her superhero mother, the Wasp. With the way they’ve been setting up her character as a female lead slash badass to Scott Lang, I am not at all doubting this possibility. Hope Van Dyne will be the Wasp to Scott Lang’s Ant-Man.
3. We will be seeing more of SHIELD in its infancy
When it was confirmed that Peggy Carter and Howard Stark would be appearing in Ant-Man, us hyped up fans knew what it obviously meant from the get go: we are going to see some early SHIELD action.
We all know SHIELD was founded during the mid 40s and the film is said to include a few flashbacks set in the 1960’s which – we’re smugly and confidently assuming – will feature a young Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne during their early heroic days along with Peggy and Howard (who will be played by John Slattery).
This lines up with a rumor that went around a few months back (a rumor which included Peggy and Howard in it) saying that not only will we get Peggy and Howard but we might also get to see Arnim Zola and a young Alexander Pierce. You know Pierce right? The head of the World Security Council and former SHIELD director in The Winter Soldier who happens to be a high ranking HYDRA agent. Along with an infant SHIELD, is there a chance we could see the early seeds of HYDRA being planted as well?
4. Yellowjacket is the villain
These photos surfaced a while back with reports saying that was the villain in Ant-Man, Yellowjacket to be played by Corey Stoll. Not surprisingly, fans immeditely went; Why does Yellowjacket look like that and why is he a villain? Now to give you readers a bit of context here is what Yellowjacket looked like the comics:
And to add more comic book context, Yellowjacket in the comics was another costume/name for Hank Pym to use due to his radical shifts in his personality. Now there is no way in hell that comic outfit is going to look substantially decent on screen. His Ultron-esque suit in the film, along with the stingers and the – correct me if I’m wrong on this – swarm of yellowjackets behind him look fitting for a modern sci-fi adaptation.
So why is this Yellowjacket a villain? It could be a bunch of things. Hank Pym to begin with has a very limited rogues gallery. You got a bunch of campy ones like Egghead and Whirlwind. You got a couple of lesser than cool villains to start. In fact, the comic book counterpart of the film’s villain, Darren Cross looks like this:
Again, between staying faithful to the half-assed pink Hulk version of Darren Cross, turning him into Yellowjacket just might be the best thing to do for the character. Some fans have been speculating that Hank Pym may indeed be a villain in this film as well with him donning the Yellowjacket armor, similar to the mentor-mentee relationship Tony Stark had with Obadiah Stane.
Nothing important but worth noting; Corey Stoll being cast as the villain has to be one of the most underdog castings in the MCU in a longtime. Think about it, the last relatively unknown actor cast as a villain in the films was Tom Hiddleston. Post-Hiddleston, more established popular actors have taken villainous roles; Guy Pearce/Ben Kingsley, Pace/Brolin, Redford and Ecclestone. Does this mean anything? Not really. But I’m damn excited to see Corey Stoll knock it out off the park.
5. Creative input from Adam McKay and Paul Rudd
When that Edgar Wright issue hit the fan, the public watched as Marvel had to get their shit straight in finding a replacement. Dozens of reports came out saying who was up for grabs and whatnot. Then it was announced that Adam McKay was a candidate they had mutually locked on to. Immediately after that, Adam McKay announces that he will not be able to make the film due to other commitments, leaving fans all the more disappointed.
“Paul Rudd called me when Edgar Wright stepped away from the project and told me what was going on. I went and met with Marvel, and I was a little dubious just because I’m friends with Edgar and I didn’t know what the story was, and then when I kind of heard what happened, that Edgar had parted ways, and then I saw their materials, I was like, ‘God this is pretty cool’. Ultimately I didn’t want to jump in as a director, I had too many other projects going and it was too tight, but I thought, ‘You know what, I can rewrite this, and I can do a lot of good by rewriting it.’“ – Adam Mckay
I’ve always known that Paul Rudd’s a really good writer from improvising with him on set, but I had no idea he was that good—he’s really great with dialogue. So the two of us holed up in hotel rooms on the east and west coast, and I think it was like six to eight weeks we just ground it out and did a giant rewrite of the script. I was really proud of what we did, I really thought we put some amazing stuff in there and built on an already strong script from Edgar Wright and sort of just enhanced some stuff.”
That disappointment quickly went away when it was announced that Adam McKay will be hired to help spice up the Edgar Wright script despite him not helming the film. With McKay’s background at comedies such as Anchorman, Talladega Nights and the very well done The Other Guys, fan’s were stoked at the rewrite. Marvel’s collaboration with Adam McKay was such a great experience that – according to McKay – they’ve been in discussions for more future collaborations. Maybe he could helm a Phase 3 film?
We just shaped the whole thing, we just tried to streamline it, make it cleaner, make it a little bigger, a little more aggressive, make it funnier in places — we just basically did a rewrite. Edgar had a really good script. But we just had a blast, and Rudd was just so much fun to write with. I walked away saying, ‘Hey, you and I gotta write a script together.’”
And amidst all those creative changes, it is still exciting to see that a part of Edgar Wright’s vision remains and at this point it’s become evident that we’re going to get the best of both worlds: Edgar Wright’s and Marvel’s.
6. We have another genre MCU film at our hands
Just like how The Winter Soldier was a political thriller and how Guardians of the Galaxy was its first sci-fi, Ant-Man will be the MCU’s very own heist film. Even back when Edgar Wright was still working on it, this Ant-Man movie was synonymous with the term heist. You can’t separate Scott Lang and the word heist. In fact, one of the Edgar Wright’s early references was the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes episode called To Steal and Ant-Man.
Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.
Just think about it. A superhero film in the spirit of Ocean’s Eleven or Heat but with the added fun of watching a robbery sequence wherein someone shrinks to beat the shit out of you. A spectacle of a caper that is visually exciting as it is intense.
“Ant-Man” is very much a heist film. It has all the fun, tension and drama of a good heist film. The heist is being masterminded by myself, my father and Scott Lang.” – Evangeline Lily
Ant-Man’s Place/Future in the MCU
It was a bittersweet surprise to see the Phase 3 slate as it is but not see Ant-Man 2 at the same time, be it for whatever reason. Undoubtedly, us fans would love to see any opportunity for them to appear in the big screen as well. Here we speculate on Ant-Man’s future in the MCU.
1. Age of Ultron
Disclaimer: Due to me avoiding all Age of Ultron spoilers such as the released/leaked background character info on Ultron and Vision, this speculation might not be factually aligned with the said character info and may or may not in turn make me look like a babbling fool. So apologies.
You know the story; Hank Pym inadvertently creates the most destructive AI cyborg in comic book history who happens to be the titular character of the next Avengers movie. It’s been a point of contention whether or not Hank Pym has actually something to do with the film despite denials by Whedon and Feige. The fact that this film went through creative changes post-Edgar Wright and the way it is considered an epilogue for Phase 2 proves otherwise.
This Ant-Man film was once considered an opener to Phase 3 itself but that is not likely the current case. Could they have rewritten Hank Pym’s role in the MCU? Could he have been the reason why the dormant peacekeeping program that Tony Stark jumpstarts exists? Will the Ant-Man film or Age of Ultron hint that the Avenger Initiative was a program proposed by Hank Pym back in the day?
Who wouldn’t want Hank Pym to have an indirect hand in the Ultron program? That would brilliantly fulfill his roles in the comics and give his whole character a dynamic that is somewhat fresh yet faithful to the source when the movie lands. The Hank Pym we might get introduced to might just be better than his comic counterpart.
2. Captain America: Civil War rumor
It’s been said to have been the straw to break the Wright-Marvel camel’s back but among the neverending circulating rumors all year round, this has to be my favorite of all, regardless if it comes true or not. It goes like this: remember when I said that we may get to see characters like Peggy Carter, Howard Stark, Arnim Zola and Alexander Pierce in Ant-Man? There’s another character rumored to show up as well. He goes by the name Thaddeus Thunderbolt Ross. As in General Ross from the Incredible Hulk!
The rumor continues: that General Ross may appear in a post-credits stinger in Ant-Man hinting Hank Pym and Scott Lang’s larger role in the MCU. The events of Civil War could lead to Black Widow getting arrested and Scott Lang resorting to break her out of prison.
This rumor blew my mind for two reasons. First, it’s been a damn long while ever since we had any substantial direct connection to The Incredible Hulk. Marvel has made no attempts to reference that film apart from teenie tiny mentions. Just like how Agent Carter retroactively makes Iron Man 2 a more enjoyable film, Thunderbolt Ross appearing in Civil War does the same for Incredible Hulk. With Ross’ animosity towards Banner and his super-powered kind, it makes the most sense for a high powered government official to assist Tony Stark pass off a law of accountability towards metahumans. Add to that, the possibility of Ross being asked to form his own team of superhero bandits that may or may not go by the name The Thunderbolts.
And second, with no existing sequel in our horizons, an Ant-Man appearance in Civil War may be the next appearance we need. If something called Civil War is any indication that shit is about to hit the fan for our small roster of heroes, it needs all the superheroes it can get. And come one, a prison break scenario featuring Black Widow and Scott Lang? If Days of Future Past has taught us anything, its that prison breaks involving superpowers are a treat to see.
3. AKA Jessica Jones
You might think that there is no way in hell a character as iconic as an Ant-Man would appear in something as small scale as Jessica Jones. Well the two did date for a while in Alias. And Scott Lang is a central part of Jessica Jones’ life before Luke Cage fully came into the picture.
We get it. Paul Rudd is too big for something as that but hey you never know. Scott Lang along with Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel play a part in the life of Jessica Jones so you never know.
4. Possible Sequels
As fun as supporting roles/cameos are, let us not limit the Ant-Men to those roles. These are characters that have so much cinematic potential. It would be a waste not to see any more Ant-Man films in the future. Sadly, until the bosses see its box office performance, an Ant-Man 2 might not be on the top of their to do list.
Regardless, a sequel to Ant-Man could explore a couple of things ingrained into the mythology. One of which is the characters ability to increase size/mass. Giant-Man is one of Hank Pym’s ever changing alter egos and is his most famous one next to Ant-Man.
We don’t know for sure if a Giant-Man reference awaits us in the film but damn would that be a sight to see. With the stakes and danger perpetually getting higher in the MCU, an ability like this might prove useful.
With his daughter Cassie Lang in the MCU, could we eventually see her don the mantle of Stature? And could her presence lead to a team known as the Young Avengers?
Villains aren’t a dime-a-dozen for Ant-Man so you gotta get creative. Just as they’ve rewritten Darren Cross into Yellowjacket, you could do the same for perhaps a Giant-Man counterpart named Goliath? The Iron Man 3 evil organization AIM – that was led by Aldrich Killian – is also a known Ant-Man baddie. We could use another nefarious AIM appearance. Chinese man gets the ability to manipulate radiation in all its possible forms and takes the name Radioactive Man (not the Simpsons character and who was at one point speculated to appear in Iron Man 3) and becomes a foe to Ant-Man himself and the Avengers.
As for story arcs, depending on how the direction of the MCU goes, a sequel could introduce the 50-State Superhuman Initiative, Avengers Academy or maybe even Avengers AI. Now these are mostly Hank Pym storylines, wherein Pym mentors or leads a team of heroes. Of course given, Pym’s age in the MCU this could be easily rewritten for Scott Lang. The sequel could even be a spin-off featuring The Irredeemable Ant-Man, Eric O’ Grady.
5. A Netflix Series/One-Shot
What’s great about insane fandom is that there is the ocassional stroke of genius. One of our friends over at /r/marvelstudios had this idea: A 1960’s era show chronicling the exploits of a young Hank-Pym and Janet Van Dyne. That is seriously one of the most coolest ideas that could happen in the MCU. Be it a one-shot, limited series similar to Agent Carter or a full on Netflix show!
Size Doesn’t Matter
Ah Ant-Man. The unsung hero of the Marvel Universe and the MCU. A promise made back in 2006 and a project 9 years in the making. Just like in the comics, you’ve endured heartbreak and countless changes. You’ve been perceived as a walking disaster with no proper future in sight. A ticking time bomb bound to go off and fail. But come July 2015, we get to see you in all your shrinking glory.
If Guardians of the Galaxy was validation that great characters are always worth a shot no matter how ridiculous, Ant-Man does the same for stories regardless of how big or small.
In spite of everything its been through, I have faith in this film. I have faith in Peyton Reed, Kevin Feige, Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, those who collaborated in this film and the new creative direction this film has taken. Nevermind those box office failure predictions, this film will be the shit.
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