Disclaimer: Daniel Smith is not a writer. He is a software engineer with a glorified biology degree who spent more time playing saxophones than he did in any of his classes, much less English class. But we wanted someone to write stuff about nerdy stuff and we didn’t know any actual writers so we asked him.
“Hey man, I was just seeing if you had interest in writing a weekly geek culture column for Comcastro.” That is why this is happening. I may have agreed to do this while grad school is kicking my ass, so this entire thing is being written while I’m having lunch at a Panda Express because nothing gets the juices flowing like a double order of that orange chicken. Geek culture is kind of a broad topic. I thought with Ant-Man coming out, maybe I could try and condense the history of Ant-Man into a few pages. You know, just so maybe the three people who read this would know a little bit about the history of the character before Marvel rewrites the origin story on the big screen. Also Ant-Man is probably a heavily searched topic right now, so this is basically clickbait without advertisements asking you if you want to purchase a mail-order bride.
Ant-Man. I keep asking myself how this movie is actually happening. But this is the 3rd or so time that I have asked this about a comic book movie. I could not believe a then-B-lister like Thor was getting his own movie. I was shocked that Guardians of the Galaxy was being turned into a movie. We all know how that turned out. So I guess it should come to no one’s surprise that Marvel is going small with Ant-Man.
Ant-Man made his first appearance way back in 1962. Hank Pym (a scientist because scientific accidents were the sexy way to make a new super character back in the day) created what he called Pym Particles (that is just fun to say) which allowed him to shrink himself. After pouring the particles onto himself he wound up in an ant hill. Traumatized by his experience he swore that he would never again shrink himself.
The interesting thing about Ant-Man’s origin is that he did not start off as a hero, or even in a hero comic story. His story was just a pure science fiction one-shot in Tales to Astonish. The character was so well received that Marvel brought him back a few months later. It turned out that when he swore never again, he really meant “never again will I shrink myself without designing a protective suit and a helmet that allows me to communicate and control ants because ants are so much more useful than scorpions, or termites or beetles.” Thus was born “The Ant-Man.”
Hank Pym would be Ant-Man on and off again for a long time… and by on and off again I mean he would change up his superhero alter ego because he would up with a mean case of short man syndrome and schizophrenia. In fact, it was Hank Pym’s idea to get a whole bunch of heroes (see: The Avengers) together to fight evil. However, Hank felt insignificant compared to people like Thor and Captain America and Iron Man and basically everyone else on the team (see pecking order below). So he refined his particles so he would be a bigger deal… literally. He became Giant Man (Gi-Ant… I feel like Marvel really missed a Silver Age grade cheesy joke there), a hero that could grow up to be 12 feet tall! Why 12 feet? Well Stan Lee and company figured a giant walking around would make it too easy to vanquish evil, so they made up some thing about 12 feet being the largest he could get and have his body still support his mass. But they eventually got rid of that when Pym rebranded himself Atlas. And then he was Yellow Jacket (Hank’s crazy side came out and manifested itself as a villain). He even tried to be The Wasp at one point. But Hank always felt like a failure to compared to the other heroes. He even tried to build the perfect robot to protect the world. Yea, in the comics Hank Pym thought up the Avengers AND Ultron.
Things would not go so great for ole Hank. He would get suspended from the Avengers. Then he would build another robot to attack the Avengers that only he would know how to deactivate… so he would show up in a “ta-da, nick of time” to save the day. You know, kind of like how you used to daydream about saving your high school crush from some impending disaster and then she would see you for how amazing you were and she would dump her boyfriend and date you because you knew how to math your way through her problems. Only in Hank’s case the robot didn’t stop and it was his wife, The Wasp (who he married while he was the insane Yellow Jacket), that managed to stop the robot. At this point the Avengers kicked him out for good (no, not really for good, for good kind of like the way Superman was dead for good, or the way you are never, ever going to get that drunk again). It wasn’t just the robot that did him in. His wife (again, the one who had to save the day) tried to talk him out of building the robot…and he went full blown Ray Rice on her. Pow, right in the kisser.
I mean, a guy (or girl) can only screw up so many times before they stop. It is just like the old saying goes: “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again…but then if you created not one, but 2 homicidal robots and abused your wife you should give up because your life is now the equivalent of a Nickleback concert.” Because of this, Ant-Man has become what you might call a legacy hero. The mantle (or in this case ant-controlling helmet) just gets passed down…or in this case stolen. Enter Scott Lang (played by the ageless Paul Rudd in the upcoming film).
Scott Lang was a crook. But his heart was in the right place. He stole the Ant-Man suit to find and rescue some doctor who could save his daughter. He was the kind of bad-guy that you would root for. Like Robert De Nero in “The Score” or Hollywood Hogan (or Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained if you happen to be Donald Sterling). Scott rescued the doctor and his daughter was saved. Hank Pym, knowing what Scott took and why he took it, basically said “well, you stole my shit…but you did it for a pretty good reason, and even though you were playing with tech that you really don’t understand and you ran off into all of this half-cocked I suppose you could keep the suit and do the whole hero thing because there is no way you could do worse than I did at being both a hero AND a person.” Lang would go on to be a pretty effective Ant-Man. He would work with the Avenger and the Fantastic Four on occasion. At some point his ex-wife gained full custody of his daughter (you know, the one he risked his life to save) and Scott wound up accepting an invitation to be a full fledged member of The Avengers. He even dated Jessica Jones (upcoming Netflix series because Marvel is incapable of failing) Eventually Scott is killed by a zombified former ally exploding (go ahead, read that again, zombified, former ally, exploding). But since the Resurrection of Superman effectively killed death in comics (except Uncle ben and Batman’s parents, they always stay dead) Scott Lang was not long for the afterlife. In fact they did some Doctor Who-level stuff (time travel is the best retcon tool) and it turned out that the Scarlet Witch had just transported him into the future, so he was never actually dead.
There is/was a 3rd Ant-Man: Eric O’Grady. He was known as the Irredeemable Ant-Man. He was dreamed up by Robert Kirkman and Phil Hester. Yes, that Robert Kirkman, the Walking Dead guy. I kind of think of this guy as a douche bag who really wants to be a good guy, and tries hard, but he just keeps messing up. I mean, he takes the suit for selfish reasons, he wants to be a hero to get ahead with the ladies. And while he did not create a homicidal robot or hit his wife, he did use the suit to shrink down and be a peeping tom, spying on other women in the facility…in the showers. Creepy. He was a SHIELD agent…so you might hear the name Eric O’Grady on Agents of SHIELD at some point because Marvel LOVES easter eggs. I could say more about him, but I wont. In the comics he died, then wasn’t dead anymore, but then it turned out that he was a life model decoy of himself so I guess he was dead. I’m gonna stop talking about Eric O’Creepy now.
So what does all this mean about the upcoming move? Look, there has not been an instance of the world being this excited about a shrunken guy riding an ant since Rick Moranis was still a thing.
Marvel seems to be going the route of having an older Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) setting up Scott Lang to be Ant-Man. They probably think a child saving Scott Lang will be better for the big screen than a crazy wife-beating Hank Pym. Plus Paul Rudd (He is 46. FORTY SIX!) has been a nice box-office draw over the past 20 years or so and Michael Douglas can play the mentoring type fairly well. Evangeline Lilly will be playing Hope Van Dyne (I’m guessing the daughter of Janet Van Dyne) and it would be a good idea for Marvel to make her The Wasp. I mean, there is a Ms. Marvel moving coming, but if Lilly wound up with on-screen time as The Wasp that would be beating DC to the punch with a female superhero. However, this is Evangeline Lilly so we should probably expect some sort of love triangle situation like with Lost or that shit they made up for the Hobbit, and the Hobbit 2…AND the Hobbit 3. OH, and that drunk Pennsylvania Senator from House of Cards (Corey Stoll) is playing Yellow Jacket. It looks like he is a business partner of Hank Pym or something and wants to use the shrinking stuff to make weapons. Try and picture Iron Man, he is playing the Jeff Bridges character. It’s worth mentioning that Hayley Atwell and John Slattery are making cameos so there is probably going to be some flashback stuff from when Hank Pym was a younger Ant-Man. Try and picture Tron Legacy, young Hank Pym would be like GCI young Jeff Bridges.
Is this movie going to be the biggest movie of the summer? No. Will it be fun with your typical assortment of Marvel jokes and a few touching moments where the hero has to stand tall? Probably. I think it will be a good a movie because, again, Marvel is incapable of failing at anything these days (Marvel, that is a challenge to make Howard the Duck 2). It has a solid cast and, again, Marvel. The nice thing about Ant-Man is he is a C, or even D-List hero when you consider how little the average person knows about him. That gives writer Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) a lot of freedom with character development. Marvel already went away from the cannon when they made Tony Stark create Ultron, Vision lift Mjolnir and Hawkeye likeable so there is no reason to believe that they won’t take loads of creative liberties with an even lesser known character. I’ll say this, I would bet the mortgage that Ant-Man 2 has already been greenlit. Ant-Man certainly won’t suck and should be well worth the price of admission. I still have my fingers crossed for a scene where Hank and Scott are walking around the lab doing a “you know how I know you’re gay” gag.
NEXT TIME: Funny things you should watch on the internet, what happened at SDCC, and maybe a follow up describing how Ant-Man the motion picture was.