Tuesday, July 14, 2015

How Many other Characters Have Used Pym Particles?

Image Courtesy www.twitter.com/AntMan

Ant-Man is going to introduce us to the concept of size-altering later this week.  Over the course of the movie, we are going to see at least 3 characters (potentially 4 depending on how much involvement the original Wasp has in flashbacks) use Pym Particles to shrink down and fight.  However, Scott Lang, Hank Pym, and Darren Cross are not the only characters in Marvel history to make use of size alteration—actually Darren Cross never did use Pym Particles in the comics... but that’s okay.  There are a lot of characters who have used this ability in the comics, many of whom succeeded to one of Hank Pym’s various hero identities.  However, there are also several who created their own hero identity, some of whom had other powers which could be enhanced by the use of Pym Particles.

Could we see any of these characters enter the Marvel Universe through Ant-Man or one of its sequels?  One has already been in a few movies, and we’re already guaranteed to see another one in Ant-Man!

(Note 1:  Just about everything here comes from either Wikipedia or Marvel Wiki.  Feel free to look it up there.  Or if you don’t want to get sucked into a wormhole and reemerge next month, keep reading here!)

(Note 2:  There will be spoilers for the comics ahead.)


The first hero identity I’m going to discuss is the one that started it all:  Ant-Man.  Ant-Man is a hero with the ability to shrink down to ant size (and smaller on occasion) while retaining his regular strength and speed levels.  He also wears a cybernetic helmet enabling him to communicate with ants.  The first Ant-Man was none other than Hank Pym.  However, a thief named Scott Lang stole his suit and used it to rescue the only doctor who could save his daughter.  When  he saw the noble use to which Lang put the suit, Pym decided to let him keep it as a member of the Avengers, Heroes for Hire (with Danny Rand and Luke Cage), Defenders, and even the Fantastic Four.

However, Lang was presumed killed (uh… spoiler alert?) when fellow Avenger Jack of Hearts exploded.  The Ant-Man suit was recovered and placed into storage on the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, from which the third Ant-Man, Eric O’Grady, stole it.  O’Grady primarily used the suit to spy on women (among others, Carol Danvers) and seduce some of them (among others, not Carol Danvers!).   However, in the end O’Grady managed to redeem himself by giving his life to save a child.  Since his death, Lang has been revealed to still be alive (uh… spoiler alert again?) and has resumed the mantle of Ant-Man.

Image Courtesy en.wikipedia.org

Chronologically, the Wasp is the second hero identity created which makes use of Pym Particles.  The first Wasp, Janet van Dyne (later Pym), had actual wasp wings grafted to her back, enabling her to fly.  In addition, she also had the ability to harness her own bio-electrical energy and release it in the form of her “Bio-Stings.”  Janet also possessed/possesses (comics can be confusing!) the ability to shrink and grow at will due to repeated exposure to Pym Particles.

When Janet was presumed killed for a while, Hank chose to become the new Wasp as a way to cope with her death.  However, because she has been revealed to still be alive, she is currently the Wasp.


I’m going to tackle these two titles together.  Giant-Man or Goliath is a hero with the ability to grow in size and either retain equal or proportional strength compared to their normal size.  Pym first created the Giant-Man identity because he felt inadequate alongside his fellow Avengers.  He eventually changed the name from Giant-Man to Goliath after taking a leave of absence from the Avengers.

During Pym’s leave of absence, his one-time lab assistant, Bill Foster, makes use of the Pym Particle formula to become a hero himself, adopting the name “Black Goliath” and joining the West Coast Avengers.  As Black Goliath, Foster also joins the Champions of Los Angeles and Defenders.  After Pym changes his name to Goliath, Foster takes up the “Giant-Man” mantle, though he eventually returns to the “Black Goliath” title before leaving the hero life altogether.

After Pym gives up the “Goliath” name to adopt a new one, it is not in use for a short time.  Eventually, after his bow breaks, Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, takes up the Goliath title for a while before returning to his original identity.  Before leaving Clint Barton, we should also note that as Hawkeye he made use of Pym Particle-infused arrowheads (thanks @Pym_Particles [www.twitter.com/Pym_Particles]), one example of a character using tools infused with them.

The third Goliath was a villain named Erik Josten, who first went by the name “Power Man”—until Luke Cage defeated him and took his codename.  After losing his original strength, Josten made a bargain to receive the stolen Pym Particle formula, which he used to grow in size, adopting the codename “Goliath” and starting a rampage across Los Angeles which was only stopped when the West Coast Avengers defeated him.  Josten retained the Goliath title for quite a while before being stripped of his Pym Particle enhancement and adopting a new codename as “Atlas.”

Shortly before the Civil War, Bill Foster takes the name of Goliath and returns to the hero life.  However, during one of the first major battles between Captain America’s Secret Avengers and Iron Man’s forces, Foster is killed by a clone of Thor and buried in his giant form.

Following Bill Foster’s death, his nephew Tom recreated the Pym Particle formula and used it to become the fifth Goliath and join Damage Control.


Now on to Pym’s other insect-based superhero identity:  Yellowjacket.  In the comics, this identity was created by Hank Pym while he was going through a mental breakdown.  Yellowjacket is a cocky and brash hero without most of Pym’s trademark intellect.  Pym’s mind is eventually restored, and he joins the West Coast Avengers as a non-costumed technical advisor.  He eventually returns to the “Giant-Man” identity when he goes back to being a hero.

The second Yellowjacket is not Darren Cross (who in the comics is just your regular run-of-the-mill millionaire with minor superhuman abilities).  However, before you get all worked up about someone other than Hank Pym becoming Yellowjacket, keep reading.  There is a second Yellowjacked in the comics, and that second one is a supervillain, at least at first.  Rita DeMara’s story is very similar to Scott Lang’s:  reluctant criminal who steals one of Hank Pym’s costumes (he really needs to invest in a lock, doesn’t he?).  However, DeMara fought with the Wasp (Janet), panicked on shrinking, and was captured.  She later joined the Masters of Evil in attacking the Avengers.  Later on she teamed up with a group of Avengers to defeat the High Evolutionary.  During the Infinity War, DeMara joined the Masters of Evil in attacking the Guardians of the Galaxy (the original team, not the one in the movie), but the two sides were forced to work together, and in the end she joined the Guardians.


Not the best, but what'cha gonna do?
There are also a few other characters who use Pym Particles to either fight or commit crime.  The most well-known of these characters (who is going to make her MCU debut in Ant-Man) is Scott Lang’s daughter, Cassie, who repeatedly exposed herself to Pym Particles growing up, giving her the ability to generate Pym Particles at will.  She adopted the hero identity of “Stature” and fought alongside both the Mighty Avengers and Young Avengers.

The other hero who uses Pym Particles is Humberto Lopez, aka Reptil.  Lopez’s parents are paleontologists who discovered a crystallized bone which he began to wear as a medallion.  The medallion gives him the ability take on the abilities of a dinosaur by thinking of them and transforming parts of his body, and limited empathy to sense dinosaurs and other lizards.  However, over time he develops his ability to the point that he can transform his whole body into that of a dinosaur, an ability which is eventually enhanced by his use of Pym Particles, which allow him to assume the size of the dinosaur as well as its shape.

The other two characters who use Pym Particles are villains, though only one is particularly enduring.

The first is the Scarlet Beetle, an ordinary beetle which gained conscious thought and the ability to control other insects due to exposure to atomic radiation.  The beetle attempts to take over the world and destroy the human race, and it sees Ant-Man as an obstacle.  His insects capture Pym and throw him in a pit, and Scarlet Beetle steals his Pym Particles to grow himself to human size.  However, Pym’s ants rescue him, and Pym defeats the Scarlet Beetle, restores it to normal size, and decontaminates it of the radiation before releasing it into his back yard.  I have to admit, that sounds like the kind of quirky, weird, and out-of-left-field story that would be perfect for Ant-Man 2!

The other villain is a little more than just a once-off:  Katrina van Horn, aka “Man-Killer” (among other aliases, including “Amazon”).  Van Horn is a “militant feminist” (I can just see them working that angle into the MCU!) who suffers serious injuries in a skiing accident.  She is outfitted with an exoskeleton that restores her movement and increases her strength, calls herself the “Man-Killer,” and goes to work for Hydra.  She has also been a member of both the Masters of Evil and several incarnations of the Thunderbolts.  While working with the Thunderbolts, she was given Pym Particles by the Fixer (the same guy who gave them to Erik Josten), which enhanced her already-superhuman strength, stamina, and durability by allowing her to grow in size.

Conclusion (or “Why Did I Write all This?”)

So, how many of the aforementioned characters are going to show up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?  We already know at least a few are going to be showing up in Ant-Man—Hank (and Janet) Pym, and Scott and Cassie Lang.  Additionally, one has already shown up in the MCU—Clint Barton.  But will Barton take up the Goliath mantle?  Something makes me doubt it, but they could always put a nod to that storyline into Captain America: Civil War.

Of the other characters mentioned, there is at least one who could be given supporting roles in Ant-Man to set him up for a costumed supporting role in future movies:  Bill Foster (yeah, introduce the black guy as a friend in the first movie and give him a suit in the second.  We’ve never [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Machine] seen that before…).  I actually think Bill Foster would be a good character to introduce as an older, established hero who worked with Pym later in his (Pym’s) career.

It has been confirmed by Kevin Feige that Janet van Dyne will play a very minor role as the Wasp in Ant-Man in the flashback scene(s) of Hank’s hero career.  However, I think it would be cool for her to show up in later seasons of Agent Carter (or perhaps in her own spinoff TV series?).  Additionally, rumor has it that we could still get a Wasp in the modern-day MCU in the form of—you guessed it!—Hope van Dyne, Pym’s daughter!  In an alternate reality in the comics, Hope becomes a supervillain called the Red Queen, who has bio-Stingers and the ability to fly (but not the ability to alter her size).  In the MCU, it seems pretty clear that they are setting her up to play a major role opposite Scott Lang; could she become the Wasp by the end of the movie?  It sure seems possible.

I don’t really see Eric O’Grady, Tom Foster, Erik, Josten, or Rita DeMara appearing in the MCU at this point in time.  Rita DeMara could follow her comic book progression by stealing the Yellowjacket suit after the events of Ant-Man, becoming the second Yellowjacket, and becoming a hero, but I think it would be far more interesting for Darren Cross to stay around, either remaining a villain or developing into an anti-hero.

However, all of the other characters could appear in the right story.  The Scarlet Beetle is just the kind of silly villain that Scott Lang could find himself fighting off in the (inevitable) sequel.  Man-Killer (“Amazon” might be a preferable name for her to use) could appear as a member of the Thunderbolts if they ever decide to make them into a movie.  Reptil and Stature would both be interesting characters to use if/when Marvel ever decides to start introducing more teenaged heroes to the MCU, though Cassie is too young to really become a superhero at this point; that would have to wait for Phase 4 or so (after the announced movie schedule).  Regardless, like the Terrigen Fish Oil Bomb on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., after Pym Particles are introduced we may see people popping up all over the place who use them!

Which of these characters do you find the most interesting?  Which do you want to see appear in the MCU?  Do you want to see Darren Cross as more than a once-off villain, perhaps even becoming a genuine hero down the line?  Let me know in the comments!

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