5 Things You Need to Know Before You See 'Ant-Man'
When "Ant-Man" hits theaters this Friday, Marvel will introduce yet another iconic comic book hero to the big screen. If the company can find box-office success with a movie about a talking raccoon and a walking tree, surely this is a guaranteed money-maker, right?
Regardless of Marvel's Hollywood clout, there are plenty of moviegoers who don't know Ant-Man from Aquaman. So we decided to break down the five things you should know about Marvel's latest superhero before you head to the theater.
1. Paul Rudd is Not the First Ant-Man
Scott Lang (Rudd) may be the star of the film, but he's not the only hero to call himself Ant-Man.
This film is the first one in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to explore the concept of a superhero legacy being passed down from one generation to the next. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) is the first hero to call himself Ant-Man. Decades before Iron Man and Hulk smashed their way onto the scene, Pym discovered the particles that bear his name and developed the Ant-Man suit. Several prologue comics have already explored some of Pym's early exploits in the MCU.
In the present-day, however, Pym is a forgotten, washed-up inventor who's lost control of his company and his Ant-Man tech. Hence why no one has called up offering him a membership card for the Avengers.
That's where Lang comes in. As in the comics, Lang is a small-time thief who essentially stumbles his way into becoming a superhero. Despite his checkered past, Pym sees something in Lang that makes him worthy of taking up a mantle he himself abandoned years ago.
2. His Powers Are Kinda Badass
No radioactive insect bites or Gamma rays here. Instead, Ant-Man relies on a rare substance known as the aforementioned "Pym Particles," which allow him to shrink his body (and luckily, his costume) to the size of an insect.
Even better, as Ant-Man's body shrinks, his physical strength actually increases. Because science. That makes him a pretty tough opponent to beat. He's too small to see, yet he can easily knock a full-grown man across a room.
In the comics, Pym Particles also allow the user to also grow in size as well as shrink. It doesn't appear Ant-Man will be tapping into that power in this film, but who knows what will happen when he joins up with the Avengers in "Captain America: Civil War"?
Size-changing is only half of what Ant-Man brings to the table. His signature helmet allows him to communicate with insects (generally ants, hence the name). This talent allows him to control his bug armies in battle and summon a flying ant to be his faithful steed.
3. He Has an Arch-Nemesis, Naturally
No superhero is worth much without a good villain to test him. That's true even for Ant-Man, a hero who historically has always been his own worst enemy.
The big baddie both Pym and Lang face is Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), aka Yellowjacket. Cross is a former protege of Pym's who has gone on to take over his boss's company, steal his inventions and militarize the Ant-Man suit. To draw a comparison to the "Iron Man" movies, Cross is basically a hybrid of Obadiah Stane and Justin Hammer.
Like Stane, Cross isn't afraid to get his hands dirty and play with his new toy. The climax of the film will see Ant-Man square off with Cross in his Yellowjacket suit. The Yellowjacket armor is sleeker and deadlier than the Ant-Man suit, complete with a few extra appendages to take full advantage of that boosted strength. Get ready for the smallest epic superhero slug-fest you've ever seen.
4. It's a Story About Fathers and Daughters
If there's one thing most of the heroes in the MCU have in common, it's that they're loners without much in the way of family ties. Well, except for Hawkeye, as "Avengers: Age of Ultron" went out of its way to show us.
Both Hank Pym and Scott Lang are different, however. These two men are very much defined by their family relationships in this movie. For Pym, he struggles to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly, pictured above.) Hope now works for Darren Cross and doesn't seem to want to have much to do with her father, which may be tied to the mysterious fate of her mother, Janet. Comic fans will know that Janet Van Dyne is The Wasp, an insect-like heroine who was once married to Pym -- and an Avenger!
As for Scott, he has a teenage daughter named Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). Lang is devoted to Cassie, and has even turned to a life of crime to provide for her. But as you might expect, it's that same life of crime that prevents him from seeing her. For Lang, becoming Ant-Man is that last chance at legitimacy and respect and reconnecting with the one person in the world he cares for.
5. Lang Stands Alone. Ish.
Minus a brief cameo from a new Avenger, "Ant-Man" bucks the recent trend with Marvel's movies in that it doesn't wedge itself into the increasingly complicated web of continuity and characters. In other words, don't expect Ant-Man to to be fighting Loki or hunting for an Infinity Stone this time.
Instead, this movie is a standalone adventure that focuses mainly on establishing a new power player in the Marvel Universe.
There will be some ties to the larger universe. The film will briefly explore Pym's past as Ant-Man and an active member of S.H.I.E.L.D. during the Cold War. But for the most part, "Ant-Man" is concerned with its own characters and conflicts. That might make it the most approachable Marvel movie since the original "Iron Man."
That said, don't expect Ant-Man to stay out of the Marvel limelight. It's already been confirmed that the hero will join the fray in next year's "Civil War." From there, don't be surprised if Rudd reprises his role in the next two "Avengers" sequels.
After all, what super-team is complete without a guy who floats like a butterfly and stings like a superhuman fist to the face?