The Non-Nerd’s Guide To ‘Ant-Man’

This week, Marvel rolls out what might be its most unusual movie yet: Ant-Man, the story of Paul Rudd getting really tiny and punching people. But the casual viewer who didn’t grow up reading this stuff might be wondering just who these people are and why they matter to the larger Marvel universe. So, we’ve got answers!

So, who’s Paul Rudd playing in this movie?

Scott Lang, the Ant-Man actually worth a damn. Michael Douglas plays Hank Pym, the discoverer of Pym particles and in this movie, the inventor of the Ant-Man suit. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Pym is the Tony Stark of making stuff really tiny.

Wasn’t Hank Pym Ant-Man originally?

Why, yes. But for a variety of reasons, like being a wife-beater who invents a genocidal robot, Hank has fallen out of favor among much of the Marvel fan-base, so he’s been relegated to the mentor role in this movie.

I seem to remember some nerd I know also ranting about how Hank Pym was the real Yellowjacket, not Corey Stoll.

Among the effects of Pym particles, which lets Ant-Man get tiny, is severe psychological distress, so Hank Pym thought he was somebody else for a while. Also, Pym just can’t pick a damn name: He’s been Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, and Yellowjacket. He even hijacked his wife’s name, The Wasp, for a while. So Marvel’s been moving a few things around, in order for the plot of the movie to make any sense.

Is Darren Cross also in the comics?

Yep, and he’s even the enemy of Scott Lang in the comics, although he’s not Yellowjacket. We’re assuming the part where he kidnaps poor people and surgically removes their hearts to survive is being rewritten, though.


Marvel was even less subtle in the ’70s than it is now. And trust us, they’re not subtle.

So, why does Hank Pym want his suit back?

In the comic, Hank Pym is adamantly opposed to violence as a solution to the world’s problems, which is why he hangs out with an arms dealer, a man who beat up every German Nick Fury didn’t shoot in the face first, and the Hulk. Presumably he objects to the idea of Pym particles being sold to the highest bidder, because of those aforementioned psychological problems they can cause.

Also, Darren Cross is just kind of a huge dick. Sticking it to him is probably a good enough justification.

Are there any comics I should read?

Honestly, it’s so different. There’s not really a point in reading the older stories. But Ant-Man’s current series is quite good. Marvel recently had a team-up they need to bring to the movies, so there’s plenty of tiny goodness out there.

Oh, and, of course, watch your step. Unless it’s Hank Pym. That guy you can step on.