To Better Know a Hero: Ant-Man

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Ant-ManReal Name
Scott Lang

First Appearance
Avengers #181, March 1979 (Scott Lang)
Marvel Premiere #47, April 1979 (as Ant-Man)

Powers and Abilities
After repeated exposure to a gaseous form of size-altering Pym Particles, Scott Lang now possesses the innate ability to shrink in size at will. In addition to this superhuman ability, Lang is also an expert in electronics, and a passable thief.

Gadgets and Accessories
The helmet Lang wears as Ant-Man grants him the ability to communicate telepathically with ants and other insects, and is equipped with a sound amplification system so he can be heard when shrunk down. The helmet can also be sealed off to outside air, and carries a limited air supply of its own.

Before gaining the ability to shrink on his own, Lang kept a gaseous form of Pym Particles in the belt of his costume to facilitate his size changes.

Ant-Man in action

Friends and Allies
Cassandra “Cassie” Lang (Stature, his size-changing superhero daughter), Tony Stark (Iron Man), Hank Pym (the original Ant-Man), Jessica Jones, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, the Defenders, the Future Foundation

Enemies and Antagonists
Darren Cross, Augustine Cross, Crossfire, Dr. Doom, Scarlet Witch.

Movies and Appearances
Scott Lang has appeared in animated form in both Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Avengers Assemble. His is played by Paul Rudd in the live action Ant-Man feature film.

Ant-Man Movie

One Sentence Origin
After reformed burglar Scott Lang steals Hank Pym’s unused Ant-Man equipment in order to save his daughter’s life, Pym bequeaths the identity to Lang so long as he only uses it to uphold the law as Ant-Man!

Fun Fact
Like many superheroes, Lang has died and been resurrected at least once. For Lang, in both cases, fellow Avenger Scarlet Witch was involved.

Ant-Man Resurrected

Austin’s Analysis
Ant-Man is a superhero identity that’s actually been used by three different characters of note and, despite the fact that Lang is the character being used in the Marvel Studios feature film, he is, arguably, the least of the three characters. Hank Pym originated the identity and though he quickly discarded it in favor of the more overtly powerful Giant-Man (using his size-changing Pym Particles to get bigger instead of smaller, a switch Pym-creator Stan Lee has said was triggered by artists failing to depict the world around the shrunken Pym in proper perspective), it was as Ant-Man that Pym helped co-found the Avengers (and come up with their name), and though he quickly left the specific Ant-Man identity behind, Pym remains a stalwart member of the Avengers.

Tales to Astonish Ant-Man

Following Scott Lang’s death in the “Avengers: Disassembled” storyline, the identity then passed to Eric O’Grady, an immoral and irreverent SHIELD agent who adopted the identity for his own personal uses, but nonetheless got embroiled in larger superhero adventures, including stints on the Thunderbolts and the black ops Secret Avengers team. The first Ant-Man to headline a series named after the character (2007’s Irredeemable Ant-Man; Pym’s original 60s-era adventures unfolded in the pages of Tales to Astonish), O’Grady developed something of cult following thanks to his snarky demeanor.

Iredeemable Ant-Man #8

Of the three, then, Lang is arguably the least notable, neither the original version nor the latest upstart version, in terms of personality a fairly standard straight-laced hero type with the twist of having once been a petty criminal (albeit for altruistic reasons) and having a daughter who’s kept from him by his ex-wife due to concerns over his superhero lifestyle. Following his introduction, Lang bounced from one guest-appearance to another, never getting his own series or a regular role in an existing series. In fact, his first prominent recurring role came in Fantastic Four in the early 90s (and again later, in the more recent FF series). A brief stint on the Avengers in the early 00s aside, it could easily be argued that Lang is tied more tightly to the Fantastic Four than the Avengers.

Ant-Man First Appearance

Yet Lang was selected to be the featured Ant-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (though Pym, played by Michael Douglas, is on hand in a mentor role), and his relative blandness in the comics might be the reason why. Pym, as a character, comes with as much baggage as notability, and his biggest contribution to Avengers’ history (the creation of Ultron and, by extension, Vision) has been usurped in the films by Tony Stark. Without being a founding member of the team and without the baggage of creating Ultron, there’s not as much left to drive Pym as a character who’s still recognizable to comic book fans. O’Grady, meanwhile, is still probably too much the new kid on the block, and while he managed to maintain a presence in the Marvel Universe for roughly the last half dozen years or so, it was chiefly as a supporting player, not a headliner.

Ant-Man Arrowhead

But Lang is a character with enough of an established history to resonate with comic book fans, while at the same time is enough of a blank slate that the films can do what they want with him without having to sidestep too much established history (especially related to the Avengers), a trickier row to hoe with Pym as a central, rather than secondary, character. Based on the trailers, it looks like movie Lang will still have the initial ex-con hook, while also displaying some of O’Grady’s snark (not surprisingly, given the actor playing Lang), a clear indication of the filmmakers grafting a notable element of one Ant-Man onto Lang’s relative blank slate. Basically, being the less notable Ant-Man gives the filmmakers’ greater flexibility with Lang’s character in the film, while being the movie Ant-Man automatically boosts the comic book Lang’s profile (as evidenced by his recent stint headlining his own series for the first time) which will, hopefully, lead to further development of his character in the comics.

Ant-Man #1






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