Now that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is out, Marvel fans are looking forward to the next MCU film. That would be the third Ant-Man film, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Ant-Man isn’t the most famous Marvel Comics character, but Paul Rudd’s portrayal of Scott Lang, a petty criminal looking for redemption, has won over audiences over the course of his story arc. We’re about to take a deep dive into his appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
First, a bit of comic book history: the original Ant-Man was Hank Pym, played by Michael Douglas in the films. Co-created by Stan Lee, legendary artist Jack Kirby and writer Larry Lieber, Pym debuted in Tales To Astonish #27 in January of 1962, in what was supposed to be a one-off story. In that story, he didn’t have a super-hero name or costume; he only had the power to shrink to the size of an insect. Later that year, he returned in Tales To Astonish #35 as the Ant-Man. His future wife, Janet Van Dyne (played by Michelle Pfeiffer in the films) became the Wasp. She was able to shrink, grow wings (so she could fly) and shoot energy blasts (or “stings”) from her hands. She was co-created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and writer Ernie Hart, and debuted in Tales To Astonish #44 in June of 1963. Hank and Janet were founding members of the Avengers debuting in Avengers #1 in September of 1963.
Hank eventually altered his powers, gaining the ability to grow to be 12 feet tall and getting super strength; he changed his name to Goliath and Giant-Man. Later, he adopted a new identity as Yellowjacket. Pym also struggled with mental health issues (and this was well before comic books were comfortable with addressing that sort of topic); Janet divorced him and he ended up incarcerated. Janet, meanwhile, had an easier time as a hero, and balanced her life with a career as a fashion designer (appropriately, she often changed her costume design).
Scott Lang made his first appearance in Avengers #181 in 1978, and first appeared as Ant-Man in Marvel Premiere #47, later in 1978. Lang was a burglar who broke into Hank Pym’s house to steal his Ant-Man suit and shrinking gas for a heist and — similarly to the film — he ends up becoming Ant-Man. In the comic books, Hope Van Dyne (played by Evangeline Lilly in the films) inherits the mantle of the Wasp.
In case you aren’t a Marvel fanatic, here’s a guide to the movies and shows you need to see before Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania hits theaters on February 17, 2023.