The Guardians' great box office success shows that even Marvel's b-heroes have the potential to capture an audience. All of a sudden the whole world is talking about Rocket, Groot & Co. The Ant-Man is another of Marvel's characters to hit the screen this summer. And even thought he has a rather complex background story as a comic book hero he somewhat missed out on the big show - until now.
In July the most recent of Marvel's comic action films debuted in cinemas all over the world. Let's take a look at its cast and characters - and their first apperances in comic books. They might become important soon:
Paul Rudd is Scott Lang aka Ant-Man
As an actor, Paul Rudd has mostly performed in a number of comedies of which - to be honest - none stands out too much. His work as supporting actor in a number of other film productions seems much more interesting and might well raise the curiousity of some filmfans: Rudd participated in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, The Locusts, Overnight Delivery, The Object of My Affection, and 200 Cigarettes. His performance as Wally Worthington in the acclaimed film The Cider House Rules (1999), directed by Lasse Hallström, stands out.
In the Ant-Man he is Scott Lang, a comic book hero who had his first appearance as a technician in The Avengers #181 (March 1979). In Marvel Premiere #47 (April 1979) Scott finally and officially became the second Ant-Man.The Florida-born crook scratches a living for himself and his family by staging a number of burglaries - until he is caught and brought to justice. After three years in prison Scott is refined. In this new blockbuster he is recruited as the Ant-Man by his predecessor and inventor of the ant suit, Dr. Hank Pym, to save the world. In the 1980s comic books the story goes differently: He simply steals the suit from under Pym's nose as it seems a useful gimmick for his plans as a criminal.
Marvel probably thought this to be a little too profane - unfitting for a 21st century modern American superhero. Those guys need at least a global crisis, orchestratd by a disagreeable viallain to rock the boat. And the villain is:
Darren Cross aka Yellowjacket, impersonated by Corey Stoll
By casting their main villain Marvel has no spared any efforts: Stoll is know to TV-serial junkies as Peter Russo - a role he plays in Netflix's conspiracy series House of Cards. Stoll also contributed to Law & Order: LA between 2010 and 2011. He ist no newbie to the genre of comic book film adaptions: You may have seen him in Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan's FX-horror series The Strain. In the Ant-Man his job is to stir up the Marvel universe - or at least try.
As a fromer protegé of Hank Pym, Darren Cross soon realizes the great military benefits of an ant suit that supplies its owner with superpowers. His Yellowjacket suit will prove it. Looks waspish? Sure: Yellowjacket is the common name for wasps of the Vespula or Dolichovespula family in North Amierca.
You may not know it, but Peter Russo took on a gigantic role: Yellowjacket practically is the synonym for the sheer and vast complexity of Marvel's super hero universe, as the character has appeared in numerous forms and stories. The movie plays with Yellowjacket's similarity to Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) - and this idea isn't far fetched at all. As a brilliant scientist, Hank Pym isn't 100% flawless. As a comic book nerd you will surely know that Marvel has countless Yellowjackets. And you are correct in assuming that Hank Pym was the first. In Avengers #59 (Dezember 1968) he introduced this code name. Besides Ant-Man, Mr. Pym also was Giant-Man, Goliath and later on even The Wasp. But we will try and keep it simple by taking a short glance at his role in the 2015 Ant-Man movie:
Dr. Hank Pym, as portrayed by Michael Douglas
So. Michael Douglas is Hank Pym, who features in this movie as scientist and the first ever Ant-Man. As a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent he is definitely one of Marvel's shadier characters who had his first apperance in Tales to Astonish #27 (January 1962), in a seven page solo coverstory "The Man in the Ant Hill".
As the first Ant-Man, Dr. Henry Jonathan "Hank" Pym originally had a mission to save the world together with his partner and later wife, the Wasp aka Janet van Dyne. He is one of the founding members of The Avengers. His story in the comic book universe is almost as long as the bible and defined by a number of drastic developments that turned the crazy scientist who is basiclly driven by hiy emotions into a dubious persona. After his early 1980s exclusion from the Avengers he suffered a nervous breakdown and he sood acquired a reputation as a wife beater - more or less "by accident" (or so claims Jim Shooter). His appearances during the decade raised some controversy, until he finally returned to the "good camp" in the1990s.
By the way: In the comic books Hank Pym is presumably the creator of Ultron - a miscreation that has caused him a lot of adversity until the conflict finally cost him his existence in Rage of Ultron. The film however focuses more on his descovery of subatomic particles that helped create the Ant-Man suit.
Michael Douglas obviously had some fun with his new role and sees it as an opportunity to shake up some fans' rigid strerotypes: "Sometimes—like [when] they didn't see you for Liberace—you've got to shake them up a little bit and have some fun," Reuters quoted the star in early 2014, when he was asked to comment oh this seemingly unexpected role in the new comic book franchise. There will be no romantic relationship for Pym that might reactivate his love for his old flame Janet van Dyne. Instead he has a daughter with a rather brief existence in the world of comic books:
Hope van Dyne, daughter of Hank Pym, starring Evangeline Lilly
Hope Pym, aka Red Queen, had her first comic book appearance in A-Next #7 (April 1999). As Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne's daughter, she was created by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz and appears in the MC2 Universe as a member of the Revengers. She is a very young character, lacking in popularity and it will be a long time coming, if ever, until her first appearance will make an impact.
Hope doesn't like her father and took on her mother's name in the movie. Canadian actress Nicole Evangeline Lilly was cast to perform as Hope. You might know her from the TV-series Lost (2004-2010) or recognize her as elfin Tauriel from The Hobbit Trilogy - An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and The Battle of the Five Armies (2014).
While Bobby Cannavale has beenn cast for the role of Paxton the cop, John Slattery plays Howard Stark from Iron Man 2. Hayley Atwell is Peggy Carter known to fans of the Captain America film. Jordi Mollà is Castillo and Abby Ryder Fortson is Cassie (Cassandra Lang), daughter of Scott Lang and his ex wife Maggie (Judy Greer). As is the rule in all Marvel productions, comic book icon and Ant-Man co-creator, Stan Lee, will have one of his famous Cameo Appearances.