Ant-Man is the shrinking, growing, colorful dude who calls his ant companions by different names and is best friend with a lady named The Wasp. He's the closest to a cartoon character comics get, and that's saying a lot.
But here's the thing: There have been about fifteen dozen different Ant-Men, and and the whole, most of them have been terrible human beings. Each dude who has donned the helmet has been about as helpful as a spoon in a snowstorm. There was the Ant-Man who infamously slapped his wife, the Ant-Man who almost killed a man, another Ant-Man who did kill people -- all are darker than the comedy-inspired action flick would lead you to believe. But there are some things Ant-Man has done, some things that the people under the hood have gone through, that are so messed up that... well, see for yourself
Fans know that the last Wolverine movie, Logan, was based on a very different comic. Old Man Logan is also set on a post-apocalyptic world, but thanks to licensing rights and budgeting concerns, the movie version of Apocalypsmerica just a tad watered down compared to the Venom T-Rex-laden hellscape of the comic. The original story takes place in a future where all the baddies banded together to collectively punch the superheroes in their face. Almost every hero on the face of the Earth was wiped out, leaving the likes of Magneto and Doctor Doom to carve out their own sections of America. A country run by supervillains is so unbelievable, I know, but stick with me here.
Ant-Man is of course counted among the fallen. But we don't learn this during an elegiac scene with Wolverine paying his respects at a high-tech Avengers cemetery or anything. When Ant-Man died to a horde of Mole Men, he was in Giant-Man mode, dozens of feet tall. And there was no one left alive to shrink him back down.
His decaying, bone-bleached corpse is just one of the fun places we get to visit in Old Man Logan. It's roughly the size of a city, but way, way smellier. Oh, and by the size of a city, we mean an entire city sprang up around his old, decaying corpse, one that calls itself Pym Falls. Get it? Because that's where Hank Pym fell. And died. And rots. And now there's a city inside him. Guess he knows how Knowhere feels! Or would, if he weren't all, ya know, corpsulencent.
The Ultimate Comic franchise is... grim, to say the last. This is where you can find an Ant-Man who gassed the Wasp, a Captain America who hates the French and a Red Skull who somehow manages to be even worse. Things went pretty poorly for Hank Pym in the Ultimate Universe, as you might be unable to un-remember The Blob eating Wasp (and Ant-Man eating The Blob) And yet, there are still yet more horrifying things Ant-Man does in this messed up universe.
For instance, in this reality, all the superheroes are more or less government property, or at least come from federally-funded research. Because, spoilers, all governments want is to have enough power to destroy their enemies whenever they want. Unfortunately for them (and the world), most of the Ultimates' powers are not super reliable. This version of Hulk is just a giant mean cannibal, Tony Stark needs a super brain to run his outfit, and Thor is well, a god.
The government sees that the most valuable part of Ant-Man is his formula, and they use those special particles to turn ordinary soldiers into Giant Men. These gargantuan squads are sent into foreign countries takes his formula and starts turning ordinary soldiers into Giant Men, before sending them into foreign countries. Imagine the War on Terror, but fought with large Paul Rudds.
It's more than a little unsettling to see what the powers-that-be would really do, should they have access to superpowers. It's probably not a stretch to call these giant soldiers Massive Weapons of Mass Destruction, because superhero comics have never once felt the need to be subtle. Remember that time Doctor Doom cried at 9/11? This is like that.
Oh, but it gets better. See, later it turns out that vampires are real. And then almost all of the Ultimates get fanged out.
What's more terrifying than a (cloned) Hulk with vampire AND gamma-irradiated blood running through his veins? How about, say, gigantic super soldier vampires?
In the comic, Blade establishes that the only thing that can truly kill a vampire is a stake through the heart. But a stake the size of a double-decker bus is hard to come by, so one of the remaining human giant soldiers made do with a jet.
You know, comics say that Parker has the worst luck but honestly, seems like if you even look at a Pym, you're fucked.
Hank Pym has a secret. No, not that he's the worst Avenger. We all know that. No, it's that he had a secret child. Oh, but better yet? He never visited this child, never once saw her (before merging with Ultron and flying off into outer space, because he's also the world's worst dad). This daughter he never once talked to? Her name was Nadia Pym. And she's a super genius.
Oh, also, she was placed in The Red Room -- the thing that made Black Widow and Winter Soldier super assassins -- for her entire life, and Ant-Man never once tried to find her.
Although, in his defense, he did think she was dead.
See, Hank Pym was on a honeymoon with his wife when she was abducted and murdered, but the child she was carrying was saved. Nadia grew up, trained to be an assassin, but escaped, only to be blackmailed by her friend (who was carrying a bomb in her neck -- long story).
Don't worry, Nadia's a super genius, so she had it covered. Afterwards, she formed a super science group -- consisting only of genius girls -- with the help of her surrogate mother, Janet Van Dyne (AKA The original Wasp) who is basically always cleaning up after Hank Pym's messes.
Eventually Hank Pym found out he had a daughter and came back and apologized and ha -- just messing with you. He's still in space trying to blow up the universe. Great job, dad.
(Hey folks, this entry deals with themes of depression and suicide. If that's too heavy for you right now, feel free to skip on down to #5, where evil robot clones await you.)
Hank Pym has had a hard life. He's been drugged, gone insane, made mistakes, made some more mistakes, continuously made the same mistakes, and then also wore just the most unfortunate outfits. It's easy to see how he might feel overwhelmed to the point of breaking.
Pym took steps to end his suffering in West Coast Avengers, a comic book approximately fourteen people ever read. That's likely because the team's founding member and leader was Hawkeye. While the rest of the ragtag squad was off on an exciting mission, Pym hung back and started writing suicide notes to all the people he cared about.
Now, let's pause for a second. Hank Pym doesn't die here, don't worry. But just think for a second that one of the first Avengers spin-offs ever, featuring Ant-Man, Hawkeye, Iron Man, and the Vision, all living it up on the sunny seaside of California, had a story about how one of the oldest Marvel characters, a founder of the Avengers, was going to kill himself. Not even in a fantastical comic booky way, either. He just pulled out a pistol and pointed it to his head.
He's stopped by El Spirita (aka Firebird from Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends), who is there with a message from God. The comic is remarkable not only for its frank depiction of deep depression, but also because of how freely it uses its schlocky Marvel universe to skirt around something as horrible as a superhero committing suicide.
In real life, there aren't any magical entities that will show up in the nick of time. If you're having trouble getting through the day, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273- 8255 (list of international hotlines here). If you don't like talking on the phone, you can always try an online chat.
There's no easy way to transition here, so let's just get to the evil robot clones.
He's yet to appear in a Marvel movie, but Eric O'Grady is the Ant-Man you might not know about. That might be for the best, since he's just a gigantic jerk. And that's canonically speaking, too -- for a while, his title was literally The Iredeemable Ant-Man. But, like Lang, O'Grady eventually becomes a hero. Before dying.
Oh, but that's not the end of it. It's comics, when has death ever been the end?
See, after being just a huge clod, O'Grady became a full-on hero , eventually even joining The Avengers (but their secret branch, because Avengers has more franchises than McDonalds). O'Grady died fighting this dude named The Father, who is less of a Handmaid's Tale villain and more of an evil scientist who builds giant robots. The third Ant-Man managed to hold off the bad guys, at the cost of his own life.
Later, O'Grady came back and rejoined the team, and there were cheers all around. Except for the fact that it wasn't really Eric O'Grady. The man who returned to the Secret Avengers was actually a clone robot, otherwise known as a Life Model Decoy. This LMD had all of O'Grady's powers, but instead of just being a jerk, he was straight-up evil. Yes, the Un-O'Grady managed to save his team members in a tight spot, but that was just to ingratiate himself into the group. When Black Widow found out he wasn't the real O'Grady the others just shrugged and ignored her.
Soon after, Un-O'Grady changed his name to Black Ant, went on full out attack mode on his fellow teammates like Venom.
And then Eric O'Grady died. Again. Before coming back. Again! Eventually Black Ant would join Hydra Cap before switching sides for what seems like the ninth time and freeing heroes, hoping they'd vouch for him. At this point, it is just as likely that comic writers have forgotten he ever died. Which is fair, since we're going to forget about him as soon as we finish this sentence.