If Ant-Man had escaped development hell sooner, it could have been one of Marvel’s first feature films as a standalone studio. Instead, Ant-Man will be the last movie before Marvel gets really aggressive in its Phase 3 of the Cinematic Universe.
Although Ant-Man was one of Marvel’s very first superheroes, he is also one of the lesser known comic book characters among the general public. This film will go a long way towards changing that perception by introducing two of the men who were Ant-Man in the comics: Scott Lang and his predecessor, Hank Pym.
Last year, Wright left Ant-Man over “creative differences” with Marvel and Peyton Reed was brought in to replace him as the director. Wright retains story and screenplay credit with Joe Cornish, but Paul Rudd and Adam McKay also have a credit for their rewrite of the script.
Can Ant-Man be the next blockbuster film from Marvel Studios? Marvel’s detractors have been waiting for any failure to pounce on and anything less than a Guardians of the Galaxy level opening at the box office will probably be seen as a disappointment. Of course, it would be a mistake to underestimate the marketing muscle of Marvel and Disney. At this time last year, most movie pundits had Guardians of the Galaxy as Marvel’s riskiest move.
Still, it’s always a challenge to introduce a new superhero franchise to the general public, even if the main character is a pre-existing hero. Fortunately, the veil of secrecy on Ant-Man hasn’t been over-the-top, and almost all of the major characters in the film have been revealed.
Ahead of Ant-Man’s release next month, ComingSoon.net has created a guide to the characters of the film to serve as a primer for anyone who isn’t already familiar with their comic book counterparts.
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd)
In the comics, Scott Lang was a thief who stole the Ant-Man suit to help save his daughter’s life. Instead of letting Lang turn himself in, Hank Pym allowed him to become the new Ant-Man. For the Ant-Man film, Rudd’s incarnation of the character will still be a petty thief who gets the Ant-Man suit from Pym, but their origin story will be modified for the big screen. As demonstrated in the trailers, the Ant-Man suit allows Lang to shrink and communicate with ants while greatly enhancing his strength.
Lang’s ex-wife and his daughter will both appear in the Ant-Man movie. And while there won’t be an Ant-Man sequel before 2020, Rudd is set to reprise his role in Captain America: Civil War next year.
Hank Pym (Michael Douglas)
Hank Pym was Marvel’s original Ant-Man who made his debut in a standalone story in 1962 before his heroic alter-ego was introduced. Pym was an adventurous scientist who later took on the identities of Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket and The Wasp. Pym was also mentally unstable and he infamously hit his wife, Janet, during one of his mental breakdowns. That aspect of his character probably won’t make it into the Ant-Man movie.
For this film, Michael Douglas is stepping into the role of Hank Pym as a much older man than his comic book counterpart. Douglas’ Pym will be a mentor to Scott Lang and he will teach Lang how to use the suit to help them pull off a heist and reclaim Pym’s technology from the wrong hands. In the film’s backstory, Pym was married to Janet Van Dyne, but it’s not clear if she will appear in the movie and it’s likely that her character died before the events of the story.
Darren Cross (Corey Stoll)
In the comics, Darren Cross was the very first villain that Scott Lang ever encountered as Ant-Man. The recently-relaunched Ant-Man comic has reintroduced Cross as one of Lang’s primary antagonists, just in time for the movie.
Corey Stoll plays a very different Darren Cross in the film, but he is definitely the villain of the piece. This version of Cross was mentored by Hank Pym before turning on him and stealing his company out from under him. In this continuity, Cross is the creator of the Yellowjacket suit, which is even more deadly than Pym’s Ant-Man armor.
Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly)
In Marvel’s comic book universe, Janet Van Dyne is the heroine known as the Wasp. She was Pym’s heroic partner, his former wife and a founding member of the Avengers. Janet Van Dyne is noticeably absent in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, although she was clearly partnered with Pym before the events of the Ant-Man movie. Evangeline Lilly will be playing Hope Van Dyne, the daughter of Hank and Janet.
There actually is a comic book counterpart for Hope Van Dyne in one of Marvel’s alternate future timelines. That version of Hope took on the identity of Red Queen and she was more of a villainess than a heroine. Lilly’s incarnation of the character may also have a darker shade in this movie, as the press materials indicate that she sided with Darren Cross in his play to oust her father from his own company.
But the Marvel Cinematic Universe badly needs a Wasp, and Lilly’s character appears to be the most likely woman to fill that role. Note that Lilly’s hairstyle for Ant-Man is clearly based on the classic look of Janet Van Dyne in the comics. The film will also explore Hope’s relationship with her father, which will probably lead to a reconciliation between them.
The Rest of the Ant-Man Cast
Judy Greer is playing Maggie, Lang’s ex-wife; with Abby Ryder Fortson as their daughter, Cassie. In the comics, Cassie eventually follows in her dad’s heroic footsteps as Stature. Former Boardwalk Empire star Bobby Cannavale got an expanded role in Rudd and McKay’s rewrite of Ant-Man. Cannavale will be playing Paxton, Scott Lang’s friend and the new husband of Maggie.
Michael Peña is also in the cast as Luis, Lang’s cellmate; with T.I. as Dave; Wood Harris as Gale; David Dastmalchian as Kurt; and Jordi Mollà as Castillo. Gregg Turkington and Martin Donovan also have undisclosed roles in the Ant-Man movie.
Additionally, John Slattery is reprising his role as Howard Stark (from Iron Man 2) with Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, but their appearances in the film will likely be cameos.
Ant-Man hits theaters on Friday, July 17.