News recently hit that actor Michael Douglas will be joining the cast of Marvel’s latest addition to their Movie Universe, Ant-Man. Douglas will be playing Hank Pym, arguably the best known character to don the title, and he joins Paul Rudd, who is playing Scott Lang, a lesser-known, but equally adored, Ant-Man. Although the choice for the second Ant-Man character in the Ant-Man movie may come as a bit of a surprise, it’s been fairly certain that Marvel’s newest addition to its Movie-verse would include, at least, two different Ant-Mans (Ant-Men?) and maybe a third in the mix. Now, I have no problem with them using Scott Lang and Hank Pym, instead of the OTHER Ant-Man, and my personal favorite character to don the name, Eric O’Grady, who was famously known as the Irredeemable Ant-Man in a short lived run in the comic of the same name. The movie is going to be good or bad regardless of which Ant-Man/Men are in the thing, but I have some serious concerns about where this new, and sure to be popular, Ant-Man movie will leave my favorite Ant-Man, with my worry being that he’ll be reduced to D-List oblivion.
I have no idea what the plot of the Ant-Man movie will be, but we can do some guessing. A lot of the appeal of Ant-Man, in all his many facets, comes from his being less than heroic in some form or another. Hank Pym had some great moments exampling this, including some very terrible and memorable domestic violence, while Scott Lang was originally a thief. Surely the movie is going to take advantage of this aspect of Ant-Mans’ lives in some form or another, most likely, using Hank Pym as the purely scientist character, with Scott Lang stealing the Ant-Man suit at some point, finally flipping the script as Pym’s character is shown to be shady, while Lang finds his redemption, and a little of himself, inside the prototype shrinking suit. But, hey, what the hell do I know? All I do know is that Eric O’Grady isn’t getting a bit of attention at all, and it’s a travesty.
Hank Pym and Scott Lang have had some pretty storied careers as Marvel characters. Both have been important members of The Avengers, with Pym being a founding member of the team, and Lang’s death being a large part of a major turning point for not only the premiere Marvel team but Marvel comics as a whole. And no one, or no one single movie, can change any of that storied history…or can it? There has been a certain degree of changing the comic book universe to better sync with the movie universe – Agent Fury’s entry to the comic books, and subtle yet noticeable changes to Ironman over the past few years are only a couple of examples of this trend – and it’s bound to happen to a character like Ant-Man who, while highly popular during different periods over the years, never quite reached the level of his fellow Avengers teammates. Because of his importance to Marvel comics, coupled with the varying popularity of the character overall, and with the dual portrayal that will come along with the Ant-Man movie, it’s very likely that the movie will do a lot to solidify both Hank Pym and Scott Lang as characters within the pages of the comics. Furthermore, because of the nature of the Ant-Man movie using two characters that will, by necessity, have to be very distinct from one another, going by my assumed characterizations of Hank Pym and Scott Lang from the movie, there’s no room for two former douchebags, and Eric isn’t in the picture.
Irredeemable Ant-Man ran for 12 issue in 2007, was written by The Walking Dead scribe Robert Kirkman, penciled by Phil Hester, and followed the story of slacker S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Eric O’Grady as he finds, steals, and eventually “grows up” in one of Hank Pym’s Ant-Man suits. There was nothing like it seen in Marvel Comics before, since, and likely will never be anything like it from Marvel again. It straddled the border between hopelessly helpless and uniquely heroic, with a lead character that takes tragically sad to all new lows who you can’t help but root for. Just look at those pages. It was something completely different and entertaining in its own way.
So, that’s it. My favorite Ant-Man is truly dead and lost forever. Actually, he WAS killed within the pages of Secret Avengers, with that turning out to be staged and the character’s name getting changed to Black Ant (Yeah I don’t know what that is all about, either), so everything makes sense, but it’s still sad. Before Eric I always found Ant-Man to be kind of boring. And who knows? Maybe they’ll find room for a third Ant-Man in that movie…(sigh) but probably not. The success of the movie will push the Irredeemable Ant-Man into obscurity, leaving everyone to wonder what might have been. Okay, I’ll be the only one wondering, but it’s still a fantastic comic! Give it a read before the movie sends it further into comic shelf limbo and I promise, you too will mourn the loss of Eric O’Grady in the Ant-Man movie.