Ant Man (Hank Pym) Character Profile

Name: Hank Pym

Superhero Name: Ant Man/Giant Man/Goliath

Created By: Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby

Panel of Hank Pym from Avengers A.I (2013) by André Lima Araújo

Played By: Michael Douglas

Powers: Super-Genius intellect, skilled inventor, skilled combatant and martial artist, the ability to shrink to half an inch in size, and grow to giant sizes with the use of Pym Particles.

Mini Bio: Hank Pym was born and raised in Nebraska by his parents, Brad and Doris. He showed signs of being a prodigy from a young age, inventing fun and fantastical things with the encouragement of his grandmother. But, when she died he lost his will to create the fantastical, focusing more on the serious. This was then compounded by his university professors, who discouraged him from inventing things for fun, and told him that he would never invent anything that had any impact on the world. That didn’t totally discourage Hank though, as he still excelled in class – gaining his doctorate in biochemistry while his classmates were still undergraduates.

After graduating, Hank married a woman called Maria Trovoya, who had fled her native Hungary due to being a political dissent. Hank naively thought that their marriage would keep her safe, and the pair travelled to Hungary, where they were found by the secret police, who proceeded to knock Hank unconscious and kill Maria. The trauma of it all changed Hank’s life, and he was determined to do whatever he could to battle injustice and inhumanity.

This led to Hank discovering a rare group of subatomic particles, which, when applied to magnetic fields, could change the size of people and objects. Hank tested this on himself, finding himself shrinking to the size of an ant. At this size, he got stuck in an ant hill and had to escape from pursuing ants. Originally, he decided to destroy the serum he had created from the particles, stating that they were too dangerous, but he couldn’t stop thinking about them, so started experimenting again in secret.

Hank and the ant’s panel from Tales To Astonish issue 44 (1963) by Jack Kirby

Hank’s time in the ant hill also gave him an idea – the ants had to be communicating in some way, and after months of work, he created his first cybernetic helmet which allowed him to communicate with the ants by recreating the psionic/electrical waves they sent and received through their antenna.

The serum and its shrinking abilities were kept secret until the government hired Hank to create a gas that would give people temporary immunity to radiation. The KGB learned of this and kept Hank and his assistants hostage in the lab, demanding Hank tell them the formula for the gas. Hank refused, so while the KGB agents were searching the lab, Hank managed to put on his Ant Man suit and shrink down, and take command of the ants in an ant hill outside. Between him and the ants, he managed to stop the agents and free his assistants.

Hank went out several times after that as Ant Man, battling villains such as the Time Master and Comrade X, but it wasn’t until his college, Vernon Van Dyne, was killed, that he revealed his identity to someone. That someone was Vernon’s daughter, Janet, who wanted to avenge her father’s death. Hank taught Janet how to use the newly improved Pym Particles to shrink herself down, and gave her the ability to grow insect-like wings when she shrunk. The two became Ant Man And The Wasp, and while fighting crime, they fell in love.

As heroes, they were founding members of the Avengers, and Hank continued to experiment with the particles, finding that he could also use them to grow in size. Originally, he could grow to 12 feet, but eventually managed to reach 100 feet in height, though he discovered he became weaker for every foot he grew further than the original 12 feet. This all came at great cost though, straining Hank’s body to the point where he thought it could be fatal to continue, so he retired from the Avengers, and being a superhero altogether.

Hank started hero work again when Namor kidnapped Janet, donning the suit again and using his growing power to save her, this time using the name Goliath. After the rescue, Hank and Janet realised that they could shrink and grow at will, due to their exposure to the Particles over the years, though this power did not last long.

Possibly one of Hank Pym’s most famous experiments outside of the Pym Particles is Ultron. Hank had been experimenting with robotics, and Ultron was the result, with disastrous effects. The guilt of creating the villain has never left Hank, especially since he used his own brain waves as the basis for Ultron’s mind.

Hank’s mental health continued to deteriorate, especially after a lab experiment created a dissociative identity, who called himself the Yellow Jacket. He claimed to have murdered Hank, and it was only Janet who realised what was going on when he proposed to her – something Hank had always been too repressed to do.

Yellow Jacket panel from Avengers issue 501 (2004) by David Finch

The two married, and Hank briefly recovered, but the guilt over Ultron and losing the excitement of crime fighting took him into a deep depression, which worsened when he realised that Janet was the main breadwinner of their marriage, as she was a millionaire fashion designer. He took out his frustration on her, verbally abusing her and acting out while on missions with the Avengers, which lead to him being caught marshalled by Captain America. Hank tried to build a robot that would interrupt his hearing, forcing the Avengers into a battle only he could win, but Janet tried to stop him. Hank hit Janet, and the robot was too powerful – leaving her to defeat the robot, Hank being kicked out of the Avengers, and Janet filing for divorce.

Since then, Hank has had more mental health problems, has tried to redeem himself, tried to just be a scientist, tried to be a hero, and everything in between, but has struggled with it all. He has saved the world, and the Avengers team, several times, but has never managed to find a good balance.

In his most recent comic appearance, Hank was merged with Ultron against his will and died in the process. It’s unclear as to whether he will come back to life, but seeing as this is the Marvel Universe, the likelihood is that he will return when the time is right.

Interesting trivia: Hank and Janet were part of the team that found Captain America when he was still frozen in the ice. Hank has also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

First Comic Appearance: Tales To Astonish issue 27 (1962)

Most Common Team Ups: Avengers, Defenders, Illuminati

Comic Recommendations: Ant Man/Giant Man Epic Collection (2015) by Stan Lee and others, Avengers A.I. (2013) by Sam Humphries, Ant Man (2022) by Al Ewing


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