It’s finally here. The day where Ant-Man, the latest Marvel Studios film to be distributed by the House of Mouse hits the big screen for what some hope is another true-to-form blockbuster. This film had a long trek to the cinema.
Back in 2007, when Marvel Studios first announced to the world their planned slate of movies, Ant-Man was poised to be their second outing, following on the heels of Iron-Man. But there were a few snags along the way. The success of Iron-Man prompted a sequel and all other plans were pushed to the back burner. Add to this the schedule of then director Edgar Wright, who had both Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and The World’s End waiting in the wings, it’s obvious why this film didn’t go into production back then. Jumping ahead to last year, we saw another roadblock – the departure of Wright due to creative differences almost stopped the tiny hero dead in his tracks. But the film would get a new captain in Peyton Reed and production would stay on target for it’s July 2015 release. So now here we are.
I know, I know, I skipped over a few of the facts and oversimplified others, but the movie isn’t why I’m here. Well, in a way it is because why else would I be giving so much attention to Ant-Man, right? The character hasn’t gotten a great amount of love over the decades. Hank Pym, the originator of the persona, dropped the gimmick as soon as he got the Giant-Man powers in play. He came back to it from time to time, but always in passing. It never quite stuck.
Then there’s Scott Lang. An ex-con who first became a burglar to provide for his family when his career as an electrical engineer didn’t pan out, Scott was introduced in the pages of Avengers in the late seventies. As a reformed citizen and new employee of Tony Stark, he aided in the installment of a new security system at Avengers Mansion. Shortly after that, he was thrust into the spotlight in Marvel Premiere #47 (April 1979). Scott’s life took a turn for the worse when his daughter Cassie fell ill and was in desperate need of a special kind of care. Scott’s only option in this instance was to return to a life of crime by breaking into Hank Pym’s house and stealing the Ant-Man suit. He needed the suit to then break into Cross Technological Enterprises to get to Dr. Erica Sondheim, the one person who could save his daughter.
It’s there that he found out that Dr. Sondheim was being held prisoner by the head of Cross Technologies, Darren Cross, and acted fast to save her from his clutches. This lead to a happy ending for Scott. Not only did Sondheim save his daughter’s life, but Hank Pym let him keep the suit as well. A new hero was born! And for a long time, that was the only real Scott Lang story of importance. For years, the character was relegated to the background, popping up from time to time to make a guest appearance or fill out a Avengers group shot. There was no real point to having him around. That is until the early 2000s, when he would make a slow return to the big time.
When it comes to Ant-Man’s place in the modern Marvel Universe, there are two writers that are responsible for making him relevant again. The first one is a bit of a surprise as he’s a guy who’s not normally associated with Marvel: Geoff Johns. Between 2002 and 2004, Johns had a 22 issue run on Avengers, pitting the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes against a few classic Marvel baddies including Scorpio and The Red Skull. It was a short lived run as a DC exclusive contract would soon come calling, but it was a fun one just the same. During this time, Johns did what many new writers who take over Avengers do – He changed the roster. Included in this team change was none other than Scott Lang. Scott would serve as a foil for Jack of Hearts, another less used and little known Avenger. The two would have one of those classic adversaries-to-allies relationships and their arc would eventually lead to Jack laying down his life to save Scott’s daughter.
The second writer responsible in Lang’s return to relevance would be none other than Marvel’s go-to guy, Brian Michael Bendis. Bendis is to Marvel as Geoff Johns is to DC. When Marvel wants to boost sales on a title, they turn to Bendis. That’s exactly what they did in 2005 when they wanted to overhaul the Avengers and make them akin to the Justice League (a comic that features all of DC’s biggest names on one team for those who still might not know that). Bendis, along with artist David Finch, would bring us New Avengers, a title which would sport yet another roster change to include Marvel money makers Spider-Man and Wolverine. But in order to make this happen, Bendis had to bring the old team to an end……a big bloody end.
In a story titled Avengers: Disassembed, Bendis had the team get attacked by multiple adversaries (The Skrulls, Ultron) and be thrown into a war zone of destruction. And to show that this was truly the end of this Avengers era, the writer offed a few of the team members in grand fashion. Hawkeye and Vision had probably the most memorable deaths, but the first to perish would be none other than Scott Lang. Yes, Bendis helped make Ant-Man relevant again by killing him off.
A short while later, a group of young heroes formed to fight the good fight. Created by Allan Heinberg and Jim Chung, The Young Avengers would be a popular ensemble of diverse and interesting characters. One of the characters who joined this team was Stature, aka Cassie Lang. Cassie had always idolized her father and had been secretly exposing herself to Pym particles (the stuff that can make you grow or shrink) for years. She joined this team of adolescent heroes the first chance she got to honour her father’s memory.
Cassie would get a chance to more than just honour Scott as the opportunity arose to save his life in The Children’s Crusade, an epic event book involving the Young Avengers, Avengers and X-Men. In an attempt to make amends for her past sins, The Scarlet Witch would join the Young Avengers in a journey through time to the day of the Avengers’ disassembling and would help them pluck Scott out of the time stream, bringing him to the present. This would subsequently restore her powers which Doctor Doom would attempt to harness and take for himself. The heroes would challenge Doom and Cassie’s life would be lost in the ensuing battle.
This left Scott in a state of anger and confusion. The death of his daughter put him in a very dark place. The Ant-Man now had a new goal: To make Doctor Doom pay. But as always, life had other plans. In FF Volume 2, Matt Fraction and Mike Allred would have Reed Richards give Scott a new job. While the Fantastic Four would head off world for a space adventure, Mr. Fantastic would leave Ant-Man in charge of the Future Foundation (Reed’s school for super genius kids). Scott would take the job even though it meant having to hang around children…..which reminded him of his daughter. Scott would also lead the fill-in Fantastic Four which included She-Hulk, Medusa and Darla Deering (a musician that Johnny Storm was dating at the time who fought in a “Thing” suit). The series ran for 16 issue and climaxed with Ant-Man getting a showdown with and a win over Doom. But this victory didn’t bring his daughter back.
A year after this, during a period when a number of villains were acting as heroes, Doom found the power to bring Cassie back to life. Around this time, a new Ant-Man series began. Written by Nick Spencer, the title focuses on Scott living in Miami to be close to his now living daughter. Much like his work on Superior foes of Spider-Man, Spencer has done an outstanding job of mixing humour and action and the book has a feel akin to the vibe of the movie. The series has gained a bit of attention received critical acclaim. When Marvel relaunches their family of titles in the Fall, one of the books returning will be Spencer’s Ant-Man.
Finally, after years of obscurity, Ant-Man can finally be seen as a credible Marvel hero and all it took was getting thrown on a team to butt heads with another guy, dying, coming back to life and having his kid die and come back to life as well. As convoluted as it sounds, it’s been a pretty fun ride for Scott Lang and I can’t wait to see where his comic adventures will take us next. If you get the chance, you should definitely check out the current Ant-Man series and track down the trades to Fraction and Allred’s FF as well. Both are great reads. As for the movie, be sure to listen to our review HERE.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!