‘Cautious optimism’ would be the term used to describe Ant-Man’s release to theaters in 2015 after years of rabid anticipation. Although the character has been in the public eye since his Marvel debut in 1962, it took decades and several failed attempts to finally bring Hank Pym and Scott Lang to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After behind the scenes drama and reports of last-minute changes, Ant-Man finally debuted with a film starring Paul Rudd as the titular hero.
It may have been a tricky path to get to the finish line – what with the very public departure of Edgar Wright from the director’s chair after years of development on the film – but eventually Ant-Man made a splash and introduced the character to the masses. With the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Endgame, Ant-Man finally met up with the rest of the heroes in the MCU. Here’s what fans should know about Marvel’s smallest hero.
Updated By Amanda Bruce On September 30, 2020: With Ant-Man, and his other potential alter ego, Giant Man, poised to become a larger part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as many of the original Avengers step down, there’s even more details fans might be interested in. Scott Lang isn’t going anywhere – and neither is heroine Hope Van Dyne. This list has been updated from its original publishing to reflect even more MCU knowledge and surprising details.
15 Ant-Man Was Born From Tragedy
Plenty of superheroes in comic books take up their codenames and costumes due to the appearance of superpowers. It could be an experiment gone wrong, a lab accident, or an exposure to a strange chemical. With the emergence of the powers that result from any of those incidents, the character in question decides to become a hero – or sometimes, a villain. That’s not the case with original Ant-Man Hank Pym.
Instead, Hank Pym set out to develop his own superpowers after a tragedy. One version of his origin story features his first wife Maria Trovoya, a political dissident in her native Hungary. When Maria fell for Hank and married him, she thought his American status might be able to protect her. Instead, she was murdered. Hank decided to grow from that experience and do everything he could to help people in trouble.
That’s when Hank began to experiment with size-changing particles in earnest. The Pym Particles gave him the means to become Ant-Man, and later, an Avenger.
14 He’s More Than One Hero
Maybe it’s for the best that the Ant-Man film kept things relatively simple for the character’s first outing, because for a superhero named Ant-Man he sure can do a lot of other things besides turning into an ant-sized man. That’s why, if you want to know Ant-Man, you have to get to know the other heroes that Ant-Man (AKA Hank Pym) has been in the past.
With Hank Pym being a genius and all, he’s tweaked his powers a number of times, which has given him skills other than shrinking down to a miniscule size. But along with those new powers, Pym – and as a result Ant-Man – has inexplicably changed names and costumes in order to become multiple superheroes. Maybe he’s just greedy, because we don’t see Spider-Man or Iron-Man becoming a whole new superhero once they get a new suit or ability.
Other hero aliases of Ant-Man’s include Giant-Man (which is just Ant-Man but the opposite,), Yellowjacket (which is just Ant-Man suffering from schizophrenia, getting a new suit, and turning a bit evil), and Goliath (which is really just Giant-Man). It makes little sense, so don’t expect these name changes to be included in any Ant-Man sequel. In fact, Yellowjacket was already used as the alias for Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), Scott Lang’s nemesis in the MCU.
13 Ant-Man Is The First Legacy Character In The MCU
It’s not uncommon for characters in comic books to take on new superhero names, or to pass on their old name to a new character. Ms. Marvel is born from an admiration for Captain Marvel. There have been multiple Captain Americas and Spider-Men. When a hero is needed, someone answers the call.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Scott Lang is the first character to take up the legacy of a previous hero. The second character to do so in the movies is actually his partner, Hope Van Dyne, who takes over the role of Wasp from her mother. Both characters take up their mantles before Steve Rogers passes his Captain America shield on to Sam Wilson.
Of course, for fans following the television arm of the MCU, Robbie Reyes took up the mantle of Ghost Rider on Agents Of SHIELD as well.
12 There Is Another Ant-Man
Given that Hank Pym’s version of Ant-Man goes by a lot of other names in the comics, it probably comes as no surprise that others have taken up the mantle as well. In the movies, Pym recruits Scott Lang himself to become the next Ant-Man. In the comics, Scott makes the decision himself. So does another character.
A SHIELD agent by the name of Eric O’Grady found one Ant-Man costume in storage at a SHIELD facility. Eric isn’t actually the most heroic of SHIELD agents and decided to steal the costume and use it to make his life a little easier. He even planned to use it as a seduction technique because women love heroes. It didn’t work out well for him.
11 Hank Pym is The Foremost Scientist in the Marvel Universe
Hank Pym may be a little cocky, which is why he’s referred to himself in the past as one of the five smartest people on the planet. But unlike many cocky people who say they’re smarter than anyone else on the planet, Pym may actually be able to back that up. Out-sciencing Reed Richards and constantly getting in battles of wits with Tony Stark, Pym is actually regarded by the Eternity (who is essentially an omnipotent entity that represents reality) as the “Scientist Supreme” of Earth.
Throughout the years Pym has been a major part of most Marvel storylines that involve science or technology, and he has had a hand in many of the most positive and most catastrophic events in the Marvel Universe. With a vast understanding of subatomic physics, robotics, cybernetics, artificial intelligence, and just about everything else, Ant-Man is no Bruce Banner-style scientist that is an expert in one field; he kicks butt at everything. Perhaps all of this has gone to Pym’s head, as his reputation for brilliance is matched only by his reputation as a flawed and deeply troubled man.
10 Hank Pym Was Too Flawed to Be the Main Character of Ant-Man
Every iconic superhero has a flaw, but Ant-Man’s outweighed most everyone else’s throughout comic book history. Suffering from mental instability since his debut, Pym and Ant-Man have gone through hell and back as they battled Bi-Polar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and a short temper that led to spousal abuse and more. Perhaps one of the most notorious Avengers thanks to his troubles, the writers of Ant-Man have tried to cleanse his image in the past, but the specter of his troubles remains.
This is one of the reasons cited for why Hank Pym wasn’t the main character in Ant-Man, despite being the original and most iconic iteration of the hero. It’s said that Marvel didn’t want to put his questionable character traits front and center in a film, and as a result they made him a mentor to Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang. While Ant-Man touched on Hank Pym’s dark past, fans can look forward to Michael Douglas (who plays Pym) getting a chance to delve deeper into the most controversial elements of Ant-Man in the future.
9 Jessica Chastain Turned Down the Role of Hope
Another ‘what if’ in the world of superhero movie castings, Jessica Chastain was said to be offered the role of Hope Van Dyne before turning it down. The role eventually went to Evangeline Lilly and was praised for presenting a female character that had her own motives. And although scheduling conflicts were the most common reason given for Chastain turning down the role at the time, it’s interesting to read into an interview that Chastain gave around the time Ant-Man going into production.
Chastain said that, despite all the times she got close to appearing in a superhero film – including being replaced by Rebecca Hall in Iron Man 3 – “I don’t want to be the girlfriend. I don’t want to be the daughter. I want to wear a f**king cool costume with a scar on my face, with fight scenes.” And considering that Hope was precisely a girlfriend and a daughter in the first film – despite being a whole bunch of other things – it looks like Chastain is going to have regrets considering Hope’s expanded role in the sequel, Ant-Man and The Wasp; a role that saw Evangeline Lilly in a super suit as The Wasp in fight scenes.
8 Stan Lee Tried To Make Ant-Man in the 1980s
In the late 1980s, before superhero films were a multi-billion dollar industry, Stan Lee was on to something as he tried to get an Ant-Man film made. It’s been said that he “loved Ant-Man beyond all reason, and nobody ever gave a damn.” Lee originally went to New World Entertainment, then the parent company of Marvel Comics, and pitched his version of the film. Ironically enough, Walt Disney – later to become parent company of Marvel some three decades later – was working on Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, and Ant-Man was deemed too similar.
While a TV show was also pitched around the same time and subsequently forgotten, one of the biggest reasons Ant-Man never got made was because no one knew exactly what a superhero film should be in the 1980s, and no one saw potential. One screenwriter, Boaz Yakin, went on record saying that he argued against an Ant-Man script, because “let’s face it, he can shrink down, go through a keyhole, and look at secret papers in a desk drawer and that’s it.” Apparently Yakin didn’t envision an epic model-train fight or a showdown between Paul Rudd and Corey Stoll. Someone did.
7 Ant-Man Was One of the First MCU Films Planned
The troubled history of Ant-Man’s production is well documented, but the thing that many people don’t know is that these production troubles didn’t start and end when the film was announced. Rather, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish wrote a treatment for the film way back in 2001 for a company called Artisan Entertainment, when Iron Man and the MCU were barely a gleam in Kevin Feige’s eye. Word eventually got to Feige and the duo pitched their version of the film to him in 2004. In 2006 Marvel Studios – which was finally emerging from the shadows, set to dominate the box office – hired Wright to direct Ant-Man as part of Marvel’s Phase One.
There was no timetable for the film because Marvel didn’t consider Ant-Man a huge priority; he didn’t have the same name-recognition as Iron Man or Thor or Captain America. Marvel and Wright just wanted the film to be good; but problems came when Marvel Studios enjoyed unprecedented success with their interconnected film universe. Then The Avengers came out, and the word was that Wright wasn’t going to fit Ant-Man in with the larger MCU. That soon became a problem as Feige reportedly pushed for the film to be connected to the MCU and claimed that it would be a part of Phase Three with some script modifications. This reportedly led to the dissolution of Feige and Wright’s partnership, with Wright leaving the film, and everything that Wright had worked on being turned over to Marvel and new director Peyton Reed to try to hold together in time for Ant-Man’s release date.
6 The Wasp Was Almost In the Film
With all the script changes coming from hectic production cycle of the film and revisions made before and after the Marvel Cinematic Universe hit it big, there once existed a draft of Ant-Man where The Wasp played a big part. She was set up to be the love interest of Ant-Man – as she always has been in the comics – and perhaps this meant The Wasp wouldn’t have been Evangeline Lilly’s Hope under the costume, but rather an entirely new character.
While we got little glimpses of Hank Pym’s (and his wife; The Wasp’s) crime-fighting adventures in the 1960s, original plans for the film’s script had the Wasp fighting crime alongside Ant-Man. This is something that eventually happens in the Ant-Man sequel, Ant-Man and The Wasp, it’s intriguing to think what could have been; especially considering that Emma Stone and Rashida Jones were in talks to play the wasp alongside Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas.
5 The Ant-Men That Almost Were
While it’s useless to imagine what could’ve been in terms of which actors were nearly cast as Ant-Man, it’s intriguing to look at the short-list if only to see what producers were thinking before the tone of the film was absolutely nailed down. Since we ended up with one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most charismatic and purely funny actors in Paul Rudd as the titular character, that casting came as a bit of a shock to those who were expecting a more straight-up superhero film starring a brilliant thief.
But looking at who was nearly cast, Ant-Man was always intended to be a comedy. Topping the list is Joseph Gordon-Levitt – who seems to be in contention for every superhero role these days but has yet to land one – whose comedic skills and energetic delivery nearly match Rudd’s, although Gordon-Levitt’s Scott Lang would have added a different flair to the MCU altogether. With Ewan McGregor and Adrien Brody also considered at one point – two actors not exactly known for comedy but certainly capable of delivering laughs – it’s good to see that even if we wouldn’t have been lucky enough to have Paul Rudd as our Ant-Man for years to come, there were several other quality choices on the table; and thus still on the table for Marvel’s next film.
4 Ant-Man Created Ultron
Anyone who’s read a Marvel comic knows about Ant-Man’s connection to Ultron, but thanks to last year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and Marvel’s shaking up the origin of the infamous supervillain, many who follow the MCU will have no idea that Ultron was actually created by Hank Pym’s Ant-Man in the comics, and not Tony Stark. While Ultron has always been one of the Avengers’ greatest adversaries, it was part of Ant-Man’s flawed genius that caused him to create a highly intelligent robot that eventually turned on him and everyone else. Plagued by guilt over creating such a destructive creature, Pym spiraled into a depression that led to the abuse of his wife and other despicable traits that nearly destroyed Pym.
Since Marvel knew that they would be including Ultron in the Avengers sequel, there was speculation before the film’s release that Ant-Man would appear in order to create Ultron, as he does in the comics. But Edgar Wright’s reluctance to bow to Marvel pressure and include Ultron just for the sake of tying into the MCU led Marvel away from Ant-Man appearing in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Ant-Man ended up being released after Ultron as a fun and light cap to Marvel’s Phase Two.
3 Scott Lang Dated Jessica Jones
The Marvel TV Universe and the Cinematic Universe haven’t had a ton of crossover outside of general mentions of superheroes and a second long cameo or two. Considering the history between Scott Lang and Jessica Jones, these two characters not getting together in some capacity is a missed opportunity.
Jessica Jones enjoyed success as one of Marvel TV’s most well-reviewed series. With Ant-Man being the quippy lightness to Jessica Jones’ sarcastic darkness, fans would no doubt go crazy if they saw this famous story arc come to the big (or small) screen. The story goes that Scott and Jessica dated while working on cases together, before Jessica eventually broke up with him and married Luke Cage and started a family. It would be fun to see these two worlds match up and two characters that are so fundamentally different feed off of each other while learning how to deal with their newfound superhero status.
2 His First Live-Action Appearance Was On Saturday Night Live
Considering that the Marvel we know today is extremely secretive and prone to giving first-looks of their characters only in the best possible studio-approved light, it’s amazing to think that the first time Ant-Man was ever onscreen was on Saturday Night Live in 1979. In the episode hosted by Margot Kidder, a sketch titled “Superhero Party” featured Bill Murray as Superman, John Belushi as The Incredible Hulk, Dan Aykroyd as The Flash, and Garrett Morris as Ant-Man; making him the first person to ever play Ant-Man.
Though the sketch wasn’t exactly Marvel-sanctioned, or the most flattering portrayal of a shrinking science genius superhero, it’s funny to see an Ant-Man portrayal before superheroes became such serious business. In fact, most of the sketch just mocks Ant-Man’s name and his powers. And despite the fact that Ant-Man’s first appearance wasn’t exactly in Marvel canon, the best thing to come out of this fact is that Garrett Morris ended up having a cameo appearance in Ant-Man. He plays the driver of the cab that Ant-Man lands on when he first tries on the suit, and he gives a confused look as Scott Lang returns to his original size on top of his cab; maybe he’s just confused because he thought he was supposed to be Ant-Man.
1 He Can Dimension Hop
The Quantum Realm was perhaps the most important element in the Ant-Man film, and perhaps the one that is overlooked most often. Brushed aside as a side-plot that comes in handy for the climax of the film, Ant-Man’s ability to “go subatomic” is actually a huge part of the character’s abilities, and became a key element to the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward.
When Ant-Man goes subatomic in the film, it’s something that neither he nor Hank truly understand. However, as Ant-Man’s position in the MCU builds, this subatomic power is a big deal; and it could bridge the regular, science-based Marvel Universe with the Cosmic Marvel Universe. What this basically comes down to is one of Ant-Man’s coolest powers; dimension hopping. This opens the door for Doctor Strange, Thanos, and The Eternals.