MCU Villain Speculation: Who's Looking to Step on ANT-MAN?
CREDIT: Marvel Comics
With the announcement of Michael Douglas being cast as Hank Pym in the eagerly anticipated Marvel Cinematic Universe adaption of Ant-Man written and directed by Edgar Wright (The World’s End), another key detail has fallen into place: the film's lead, Paul Rudd (Anchorman) will portray the 'second' Ant-Man, Scott Lang. Now it's only eighteen months until the film hits theaters, but with these roles in place it's not too late to start speculating as to who (or what) is going to play perhaps the most important part in Ant-Man, the villain.
This won't be as simple as it seems. The mortal lock for first choice at a villain for an Ant-Man is Ultron, a robot created by Hank Pym as a lab assistant but became sentient and dedicated its existence away from cleaning test tubes and toward destroying all of humanity. However, Ultron has been set aside by the Powers That Be at Marvel Studios for the role of the heavy in Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, leaving Hank/Scott in the lurch for something to punch with their tiny yet powerful fists. While the character of Ant-Man has been around for almost fifty years, he doesn't have a very deep bench of rogues. But with the combination of the winning streak that the Marvel Cinematic Universe creative hive-mind is on plus the genre savviness of director Edgar Wright, we'd like to think one of the following tiny ideas might find themselves crawling into their ears while they sleep.
Classically, Ant-Man’s primary powers: shrinking and insect communication, are the products of Hank Pym's own inventions: the discovery and harnessing of a particle that can shift mass into another dimension to allow for radical size change (humbly dubbed the Pym Particle) and a helmet that can control the minds of bugs. This makes Ant-Man a technology-based hero more akin to Iron Man than the biologically-enhanced ones like The Hulk or Captain America. This makes him/them a perfect rival for a villainous technophile like The Tinkerer.
Phineas Mason appears to be nothing more than a harmless old man obsessed with his eponymous hobby, but it turns out that he's the Marvel Universe's premier creator and supplier of weapons and gadgets for villains. Among his creations were Mysterio's famous bubble-headed suit, the Constrictor's whips and the armored suit worn by frequent Ant-Man foe Whirlwind.
A team-up of the latter villain as the muscle and The Tinkerer as the brains could be a nice counterpart to an alliance of Ant-Men; a stronger, youthful Lang and the scientist Pym.
Michael Douglas is 69 years old, and while that might be a detriment when it comes to his ability to perform choreographed action sequences, it would allow, with some makeup and clever storytelling, for the MCU Hank Pym character to bridge the gap between the WWII/Captain America: The First Avenger era and the modern day. Namely, using his experience to flesh out the span of time when the Strategic Scientific Reserve became S.H.I.E.L.D. under the leadership of Howard Stark and Agent Carter, and show the aftermath of the secret war they fought against Hydra.
It would be hard to believe that the (apparent) death of The Red Skull would spell the permanent end of Hydra, a fact that could easily be gleaned by recent news of Thomas Kretschmann casting as Baron Wolfgang von Strucker in the upcoming Avengers sequel. Depending on where Ant-Man takes place in the timeline, Kretschmann could make an appearance in this film as well.
So when Scott Lang crosses paths with Hank Pym, the former's attempt at petty thievery could embroil him in a decades old vendetta between two powerful organizations, forcing Lang to battle the modern incarnation of the Red Skull's forces, maybe even the cyborg version of Arnim Zola.
Hank Pym ultimately strikes a tragic figure in the Marvel Universe; his heroism and scientific achievement is consistently overshadowed by the effects of his struggle with mental illness. Whether induced by his accidental release of a mind altering chemicals, the psionic intrusion of one his creations, absorbing the blame for that same creation’s legacy of murder and destruction or some dark place deep within himself, Pym has never been able to shake the stigma that he’s unstable and potentially dangerous.
This is especially true when a particularly severe break in Pym’s personality manifested itself as a completely different persona: the borderline anti-hero Yellowjacket. Believing himself to be a completely different person from Hank Pym, Yellowjacket was reckless and aggressive, both physically and socially, in every way that Pym wasn’t, baffling his friends and allies.
Whatever situation brings Scott Lang into Hank’s orbit, the latter’s mental state could have dire consequences for the ‘new’ Ant-Man in the film, especially if (in a twist more worthy of David Fincher than M. Night Shyamalan and a test of Michael Douglas' talent) his apparently meek/brainy/nerdy new ally turns out to be one and the same as the heavy.
In what is the most likely outline for the Ant-Man film, Scott Lang becomes Ant-Man though a series of events that leads his civilian electronics engineer character to turn to thievery in order to gather what he needs to save the life of his daughter Cassandra "Cassie" Lang (herself eventually becoming a size-changer and member of the Young Avengers), who is dying of a rare congenital heart defect. Caught trying to steal size changing technology from Hank Pym, Lang instead finds Pym receptive to his situation and the pair team up to save young Cassie.
Following the original storyline would bring them into conflict with a Stark Industries-like technology corporation who’s founder has gone to murderous extremes to try and save himself from a condition similar to Cassie’s, which could ultimately lead to a climax that mixes traditional superheroic action with family drama and a Fantastic Voyage-like adventure. Should be no problem for the director of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.