Marvel’s “Ant Man” Fills the Screen
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Marvel Comics has over 5,000 characters … and the superhero movies from Marvel Studios seem determined to work their way through them one by one.
This superhero was created back in 1962 by Stan Lee and his brother Larry Lieber, along with Jack “The King” Kirby. The original story in Tales to Astonish #27 was aptly titled “The Man in the Ant Hill.”
Back when I was publisher of Marvel Comics, we used a “character wheel” to determine whether a new character was original enough to pay incentives to its creator(s). The four criteria were new name, new look, new civilian identity, and new powers. Ant-Man qualified on all four counts, of course.
Here was Dr. Hank Pym, a scientist who developed the technology to shrink himself down to the size of an ant. And as his size diminished, his strength increased. Guess that’s why a tiny ant can carry a huge twig or lump of bread many times its weight.
In typical comic book fashion, Marvel even had Ant-Man morph into Giant Man (hey, all you had to do was add a “gi” to his name), Goliath, Yellowjacket, and the Wasp. And over time Hank Pym gave way to a new Ant-Man, a thief named Scott Lang. He first appeared as the new Ant-Man in Marvel Premiere #47.
Meanwhile others assumed the roles of those spin-off insect-themed superheroes Yellowjacket and the Wasp.
In this new “Ant-Man” movie – with its larger-than-life appearance on the screens at Tropic Cinema – Michael Douglas plays an older Hank Pym. And Paul Rudd stars as current Ant-Man, Scott Lang.
Set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as a follow-up to the recent “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” we find Scott and his mentor trying to protect the Ant-Man technology from falling into the wrong hands. It involves Lang pulling off a clever heist.
Along with Hank Pym (Douglas) and Scott Lang (Rudd), we have Yellowjacket (Corey Stoll), the future Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), Lang’s sizeable daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), and various supporting players (Bobby Cannavale, Michael Peña, and Judy Greer) to keep things moving.
My ol’ pal Stan Lee is pleased to see this underutilized superhero get his own movie. He once told me he was disappointed Ant-Man had never caught on like Spider-Man.
Stan the Man later elaborated, “I loved Ant-Man, but the stories were never really successful. In order for Ant-Man to be successful, he had to be drawn this small next to big things and you would be getting pictures that were visually interesting. The artists who drew him, no matter how much I kept reminding them, they kept forgetting that fact. They would draw him standing on a tabletop and they would draw a heroic-looking guy. I would say, ‘Draw a matchbook cover next to him, so we see the difference in size.’ But they kept forgetting. So when you would look at the panels, you thought you were looking at a normal guy wearing an underwear costume like all of them. It didn’t have the interest.”
Hollywood’s Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) F/X can take care of that problem.
As for me, I always had a soft spot for Ant-Man. At one of my first Marvel editorial conferences, we put the teams of writers and artists through training exercises. In one, each of us was assigned a character (the name pinned to the back of our shirts) and we had to guess by asking questions which superhero we had. Mine? You guessed it, Ant-Man.