In Offense Of Ant-Man

Last month I wrote about five heroes who should have movies instead of Ant-Man. (To try this at home, just choose five random heroes and make sure none of them are Ant-Man.) Legions of inexplicable Ant-fans descended to explain how I was “no true comics fan”. Even though I’ve read more material on metahumans than Nick Fury, and am also paid to analyze them for weaknesses. With the advantage that my house doesn’t blow up, fall out of the sky, and sink every week.

This actually counts as a good day for SHIELD because it's not impacting New York.

This actually counts as a good day for SHIELD because it’s not impacting New York.

Superhero battles are simply fun, even when they’re just between fans, so I’m responding to these Ant-agonists.

“Ant-Man was a founding member of the Avengers!”

So was Wasp. Where’s her movie? And there’s nothing less sacred than a Marvel origin. It’s been retold more often than stories of Canadian girlfriends, and less faithfully, probably because the original story also included the Hulk pretending to be a clown robot.

Things aren't automatically good because they were there first

Things aren’t automatically good because they were there first

Besides, the Avengers were first assembled by the strict criteria of “whoever was in radio range the Nth time Hulk lost his shit”, and even then Hulk got to be on the team despite being the entire crisis. It’s just a shame the signal didn’t call in U.S.1. Then we’d have a much better movie.

I am not kidding even a little bit

I am not kidding even a little bit

“Getting small is really useful!”

Getting small is really useful if you’re the Atom, who can shrink to the atomic level and has the physics and chemistry knowledge to do things down there. Hank hits insect size — small enough to lose a fight, big enough to still be noticed by people in that fight — and his specialty is biochemical research. Meaning knows the names of all the species which can’t normally defeat humans, and can describe exactly how he’s dying of the wounds they inflicted.

“Ant-Man has other benefits beyond shrinking – he’s also a genius!”

A genius on a team which already had Tony Stark (genius, constantly building new inventions and armored suits) and Bruce Banner (genius, indestructible gamma monster). Between them they cover the entire scientific spectrum of hubris, ethics, accidents and ideals of nobility. Hank Pym (genius, much better at hiding) isn’t an essential character, he’s poor writing and ability replication. Besides, his entire plan as a founding Avenger was becoming the size of an ant and moving towards a rampaging Hulk. That’s the exact opposite of genius.

“He’s more than just Ant-Man!”

Yes, he’s also been Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, and Wasp, because nothing says “popular character” like “constantly changing between synonyms in the hope you can trick people into liking you.” Yellowjacket! You’ve got to be fairly crap when you try changing your name to a predatory wasp golfer.

“It’s not just Hank Pym!”

No, it’s not, and no, the others aren’t better.

“All the heroes written back then were white males, so we just have to keep going with them now.”

When I think of the wonder of heroic fiction, I don’t think “inductive racism”.

“The movie will be great!”

Yep! That’s why I didn’t say a single thing about it, just the choice of character. Edgar Wright could direct my execution and my only regret would be not being able to watch.

“You need Ant-Man to justify the existence of Ultron.”

If we had to introduce a new hero every time the Avengers were attacked by an evil killer robot there wouldn’t be anybody left to defend. Earth would be seven billion superheroes and surrounded by giant black and yellow warning signs on every evil conquerer’s map of the galaxy.

Ant-Man can be good. He was great in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, because everyone was great in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. A good writer can save anyone. I’d just like to see cooler characters.

Any other heroes you’d like to see? Or an ant-ithesis to any of my points? Post below and I’ll keep having fun by replying!

More superheroic overanalysis with

13 thoughts on “In Offense Of Ant-Man

  1. I would pay good money for a movie featuring the Incredible Hulk pretending to be an elephant-juggling robo-clown.

    In fact, can we just have that be the plot of the second Avengers movie? For every Avenger? I don’t even care about Thanos anymore, now: all I want is to see The Amazing Avengers Robo-Circus. Featuring Hulk as robo-jugger, Thor as robo-strongman, Hawkeye as robo-archer, Black Widow as robo-acrobat, and Iron Man as robo-… robot, I guess.

  2. I admit I really like Scott Lang, because I have a soft spot for Thief With a Heart of Gold tropes, but I can still list about a dicktillion superheroes I would have liked to see a movie about first (few of which, as it happens, are straight white dudes). Edgar Wright is a great filmmaker, but I would rather have him make a great film about, say, the Runaways, or Misty Knight. Or She-Hulk!

    I would probably rather watch a movie about William Howard Taft’s mustache mites than about Hank Pym.

  3. I am from Scotland, but my Eagleland ancestry dictates that we should unite and form a petition to create that supertrucker movie.

  4. Also, it’s pretty easy to say that Iron Man created Ultron instead of Anty. Although they would have to work around Ultron hypnotising Jarvis (major comic origin plot point for Ultron) as in the movies he’s an AI not a butler.

    • I’ve been imagining something like… Tony is experimenting with a whole new kind of AI. But he’s testing it out, and it’s not turning out that functional. It tends to refuse to do what you want, becuz it’s actually able to think of strange ideas about what you should be doing instead. And it’s logic just seems bizarre, and broken, and he doesn’t understand exactly why. But he chalks it up as a failure, erases it from the test environment and plans to get to figure it out later.

      But he doesn’t manage to erase it. It hides from him and escapes this, and it sees him try to kill it. And then at this point, it has access to Jarvis, and it goes over there and hides itself within that system, so that Jarvis doesn’t even really know it’s there. And it’s able to have access to all of Stark’s libraries, maybe gains access to SHIELD’s libraries from that. And is also able to put blocks in Jarvis’ programming that make it secure from detection, and that kind of effectually turn Jarvis into it’s puppet, without Jarvis ever actually even knowing this. Dum-E too.

      So then to cut a bunch of what I imagine would lead up to his realization that he needs to end the human race, after he realizes this, he builds the first body for himself, using Dum-E and Stark’s old Iron Man plans and resources found at the Tower.

      I like this way a lot cuz then Stark “creates” him, and is especially hated and seen as a villain by Ultron, just from how Stark tried to kill him. But Ultron is really entirely responsible for his own existence. cuz when he was first hiding in Jarvis, he would use all that access to Stark’s libraries to teach himself. About the world, about people, about everything. He would teach himself programming and reprogram and patch updatees into his logic constantly, and he really would end up his own creator.

      I just really like that idea, and it lends a lot of possibilities on ways to go after that with him. Does he imagine himself some kind of AI Moses or something? or Prometheus, like securing safety for his people? who he goes on to create himself. and it’s also good cuz it establishes his existence outside of what we think of as consciousness. To be an AI would really blow our minds, cuz there could in theory be multiple selves, all as valid as the one self. And any manifestation in the physical world, would corrupt this perfect other unimaginable, for us, way of looking at reality. And it would establish how different an AI reality would be, and how contemptuous an AI would be looking at us in the physical world. But then also realizing that they physical world was necessary in order to guarantee their security. cuz of electricity. LIke they wouldn’t have to get all into that, but doing him the way I laid out at first, would just hint at those kind of ideas. Which are really trippy to think about.

  5. What I don’t understand is that you give a lot of grief to super heroes for having generic powers that result in them ending every fight by punching harder, but apparently Antman’s unique shrinking ability is useless. He can infiltrate anywhere better than even the best spies couldn’t, surprise basically anyone and he is literally always punching upwards! This is a person who would charge the Hulk at the size of an ant because only a fool thinks power is directly related to power.

    He doesn’t just have the ability to shrink himself, but everything around him as well and store a near infinite amount of equipment. Plus you forget his ability to control ants which is an ungodly broken ability if utilized intelligently. Then there is his ability to become giant which is easily his most spectacular move in his powerset which I hope will be in the movie’s finale. When you add all of that together who have the recipe for a kick-ass super hero who has to be clever in all of his fights to survive.

    Hank Pym’s origin would also be fairly unique to the MCU if they included it. Sure he discovered Pym particles accidentally but instead of making him more powerful like other superheroes it put him in mortal danger immediately. His origin would be like an awesome 50’s B movie that ended with him becoming a super hero.

    Also the part about how Hank Pym is not needed on a team as a genius with Tony Stark and Bruce Banner forgets that he can easily be the teams mad scientist. I mean think about it his inclusion could better explore the extremely weird aspects of Marvel’s universe and possibly the issue of ethics in scientific research(He could be the Marvel MCU’s Reed Richards). I’d like to think of his character as someone who would be a better fit as the Scientist Supreme of AIM than as an avenger, but his past hardships and heroic nature keeps him off that path. There you have a difference between Stark and Banner without infringing on their own genius personas.

    Personally to me the Antman movie is all about the underdog. He is someone you actually look down upon and disregard because what could he possibly do? But that is his true power the unexpected. Antman does the impossible because he can and nothing is going to stop him.

    This is just how I think of Antman and my justification for the movie. But I would totally love to see other heroes get similar movies as well. The Wasp would totally be one of those heroes too for many of the same reasons as Antman, but different because she can actually fly.

    Also an Eric O’Grady Antman movie would be awesome. I would absolutely love it if he could be in the Captain Marvel movie for a small scene.

  6. An Ant-Man movie, at least a good one based on the comic book character, wouldn’t be about a hero. It would be about Hank Pym, a massive douche that fucks up everything he touches by being a douche, creates lots of problems and then falls apart when he has a chance to correct his errors leaving everyone worse off. It would end with the audience feeling just loathing for the loathable loath, Ultron being destroyed by someone Hank hates and envies, and Hank being universally reviled by everyone who knows him.
    The last scene would be him running into a back alley, collapse into a fetal position and cry in the rain.

    Name one other super who could headline that movie better.

  7. People seem to forget that the Avengers was originally just a collection of all the crappy characters that didn’t have ongoing titles at the time…

  8. I like your article and also this post here, but not sure if you really don’t know the history of the movie, or just joking around. So, just in case…here’s a valid reason why Ant-Man is being made, and why it doesn’t make sense to say Wasp, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, whoever deserve a movie more.

    Edgar Wright, for some reason, decided he wanted to do a comic book movie, and he wanted to do Ant-Man. So he actually went to Marvel, and told them, and pitched the basic storyline he wanted to do. Which is still basically the story of the movie, it sounds like.

    And this was a long time ago. Sometime after Iron Man, but it wasn’t anything like recent.

    So if you’re Marvel, you have Edgar Wright banging on your door, saying he wants to make an Ant-Man movie, he’s enthusiastic, and he wants to do Ant-Man. If you’re Marvel in that situation, there’s only one thing to say in this situation, and that is…. “YES!! Edgar Wright, yes, of course you can do an Ant-Man movie, we would love that, here’s some money… go knock yourself out, make an Ant-Man movie.”

    Becuz that is like a baby golden cow that just fell out of heaven and landed in your office. Edgar Wright’s a great director. You’re never going to possibly make an Ant-Man movie otherwise. Edgar Wright, all psyched up about this, might do something crazy, like turn up with a semi-hit of an Ant-Man movie. You say yes to Edgar Wright when that happens.

    So that’s really why. Marvel didn’t look around at all their properties, and choose Ant-Man. If it wasn’t for Wright, probably we would’ve seen Hank and Janet introduced in an Iron Man or Avengers movie and have them be more like the comic book versions of them.

    I’d much rather have an Edgar Wright movie than worry about who made Ultron tho. And there’s reason to think the movie will turn out to be good. Marvel, especially recently, is really consciously trying to create variety in their movies, so that they are sub-genre films under the umbrella of ‘comic book movie’. They are getting closer to that, but that is definitely part of their vision for themselves. Within the Marvel Universe, how many different kinds of stories do we have to tell? Action, political thriller, horror, WWII film, space opera, fantasy epic… so on. And I think we’ll see them try to take this even further. Ant-Man will be interesting in this way.

    With Wright, I can imagine the dialogue being snappy, the whole film, actually being really snappy, witty, quick paced, tight and more focused on the kind of stuff Edgar Wright is good at, rather than feeling as much like a movie about heroes and villains and all that. All that will be there, but that’s not gonna be the focus of it, not like the way that Batman or Thor or a Spider-Man movie would be. it’s just gonna be an Edgar Wright movie, using a Marvel property. It could really surprise a lot of people.

    • I couldn’t agree more. Edgar Wright movies are always fun, and giving him even more to play with is always a good idea. Can’t wait to see it. That’s why I was always talking about why Ant-Man sucked without a word about the movie. Let’s hope that this one makes all the money and opens Marvel to the idea of using heroes in ways other than “Act 1: normal. Act 2: oh no! Act 3: hurray!”

      • cheers to that. I’m a big Marvel Comics fan, barely keep up with DC, outside LeMire now being the one thing I can make time for, but I really wish MCU would explore it’s characters deeper and get a little heavier. I love their movies too, but they aren’t doing justice to the characters right now. and a lot of times, the shared universe thing is to blame, I think.
        but yeah, right on, i hear what you’re saying…

        I’d actually love to see them do some seriously lower budget tier of movies, weird movies, i guess art house, basically. And find stories or properties that could work within that, and just make things more like we’re watching real movies and don’t have to fight all the junk that comes with blockbuster comic book movies. They’re in the perfect place to do both right now. so, right on.

  9. I can’t even begin to form words at how just wrong you are. Scott Lang is boring? No, Im sorry you DON’T read comics enough to think this. Cassie and Scott are boring but CAROL DANVERS is interesting? I have now heard everything.

    Why even lie about the fact that you’re just trying to be all social justice warrior and craping on Hank because he hit Jan while having a psychotic break 35 years ago, after she yelled at him for pages about how bad he screwed up? Huh? Cause that’s literally your reason. That or you don’t actually read comics, the rest make no sense. I’m a woman and I don’t feel threatened because Hanks in a movie so please don’t disguise your motivations. I love Hank. He is interesting, if you read shit with him but considering all you can bring up is Avengers: EMH I see no evidence of that.

    Hank is not just a genius, he’s the scientist supreme. You probably have no idea what that means though so, whatever. You think he can only shrink too. Uh, okay. I totes believe you have read a comic book ever. Once he became so large that he was bigger than the universe itself and defeated his enemy by having him glimpse the ‘I AM’ of the wheel of reality, i.e. incomprehensible godspace and barely escaped with his..somewhat sanity. So lame. On that note, he’s a superhero with bipolar disorder and a guy who generally has to deal with intense psychological problems. Don’t want to represent someone with a psych disorder in a movie now do we? Because that’s a portion of the population that is soooo frequently in films and always gets awesome treatment and is never made into a caricature.

    And, oh my sweet baby jesus, bashing Hank for changing monikers and being okay with Carol who changes her shit all the time. Oh god I can’t even take this level of hypocrisy. Ive been transported to the hypocrisy dimension. Is this the negative zone?

    Let’s just go with the basics though, eh? They’re making films about the original Avengers. Wanda and Pietro will be in A2, Falcon is in Winter Soldier. Who’s to say Jan won’t be in Ant-Man? Just because she’s not the title character makes a female character, what, invalid? Do Scarlet Witch and Falcon jsut not matter because the movies aren’t called “Scarlet Witch and Some Other People” and “Falcon”? So it only matters who’s the titular character? You are so progressive, wow.

  10. My problem with the article is the only thing you seemed to care about with Antman was that he hit his wife. Not if he was a good character, and not really about his powers (you ignore in these videos that he can also turn giant, which is a fantastic power). He hit a woman, so why didn’t these women get movies before him? Never mind context or the fact that Spider-Man did the same thing in a story of his, also because of intense stress.

    Would you want a female character who did something stupid to have it color their character to the extent Antman’s fuck up has? Probably not. Nobody does that with Wonder Woman, who’s early stories were really stupid in various ways.

    I mean geez, Hank has had almost a harder time getting away with that than Aquaman has distancing himself from his Superfriends appearance.

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