Why Ant-Man? That was a question that kept coming up in discussions about Marvel's line-up of films. Of all the people in the Marvel universe to introduce in films in the current plan, why Hank Pym?
Don't know who he is? He's the many-times rebranded superhero who can shrink himself down to the size of an ant, or grow himself to a hundred feet tall. Changes in mass accompany such size changes. He received his powers from messing with particles he later dubbed Pym-particles. He's a scientist. He's a genius. And he's a wife-beater. Let's see them explain that in a kid-friendly way in his big-screen appearance.
So, it's kind of handy having someone who historically has shown to be able to literally squash the enemy. Except, it seems like the only good thing he ever did was set up the Avengers. Yes, him. He was one of the founding members, and one of the ones who really made them work as a team, if I understand his role correctly.
But his significance goes beyond that. Let's look at it like this:
He created Ultron. That nasty piece of work is a self-improving, constantly growing mastermind Artificial Intelligence, as smart as Pym, as blind-sided as Pym, and with none of the conscience you would expect a hero to have. (Except, you know, wife-beater. Poor Janet.) But, aside from the big-bad that he created (and that he's always been necessary to stop), how important has he been?
Think Planet Hulk. Think the prison in Civil War. Think the interdimensional dome that appeared in what I believe was Messiah War. Every time they've needed scientists, he's been there. He's been a douche about it, but he's been there, he's helped, he's been important.
What about Ultron? Well, Ultron made Vision. Vision, another cyborg/android/biological-robot thing, had children. Actual children. With the Scarlett Witch. They died. Twice. The first time, House of M happened. That led to No More Mutants, which led to Avengers Vs. X-Men, which led to what we have with Marvel now. Including Xavier being dead...
But those kids of Vision's came back. Twice. The second time as actual people, and not just weird demon things (as it was explained to me). They were important parts of the Young Avengers, along with (wait for it) Hank Pym's daughter. She also found Pym particles.
So, Pym has been kind of important. One of the big-but-young teams in Marvel have him to thank for their existence. Many mutants lost their powers because of him. He's locked people up, thrown them into space, and created one of the most dangerous beings in the universe. Big deal, right? But what if he never existed?
They've started to explore this in Age of Ultron. Issue 7 shows a world in which Hank Pym had been killed before he created Ultron. The Secret Invasion went a little differently, but people seem to be okay by-and-large. Unless they've been killed and we just don't know yet. Also, Iron Man seems to be Vision. But still Tony. And he's in charge of the whole planet.
Things got weird, I'll admit.
Was Hank Pym so important that without him the Avengers form in a different way? They're not even the Avengers in issue 7. They're the Defenders. Rubbish, right? That doesn't sound so heroic. And they're not the same heroes, either. Captain America is there, yeah. But missing an eye for some reason. Wolverine is there. The Hulk is there. Janet - the Wasp, Pym's wife - is there. Doctor Strange is there. But then, Cyclops is also there. It's as if the X-Men don't need him anymore, and he can he join the Avengers. He probably hasn't killed Xavier.
I have to say, if I had to choose a world with Pym, or a world without Pym... I'd probably go for the former. But then we have to try reconcile the fact that Ultron has kind of broken the whole planet...
All in all... I can't explain why they're bothering to bring Ant-Man into the movies. All I know its, Hank Pym is important. One of the most important men in Marvel history. He just also happens to be useless to Marvel right now unless they can also get Reed Richards. Which they won't. (Reed is part of the fun Brain Squad of the Avengers - him, Pym, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner like saving the world as a mastermind group of super scientists.)
Marvel fans, what do you think? Is Hank Pym important? Should they be bothering with him in the films? Did I miss out on another really big event in his life that has a massive impact on the way we should look at him?