Ant-Man, set to release in India this Friday, is in many ways in the same position that Guardians of the Galaxy (GotG) was in last year. It's the film on which the Marvel Cinematic Universe could stumble as it tries to build a world of heroes that goes beyond Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor. Aside from GotG, the MCU released its last original movie in 2011. Since then, with one exception, we've seen nothing but sequels - the Avengers film was essentially a sequel to the existing films - and much like GotG, Ant-Man is, well, weird.
For those not familiar with the character, his main power is to shrink himself down to ant size, where for some technobabble reasons, he becomes proportionately much stronger. He can also talk to ants and other insects. These sound like pretty stupid powers compared to the super powered soldier of Captain America or the literal God that is Thor. But the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, along with his wife Janet Van Dyne (the Wasp), were two of the founding Avengers and it's the Wasp who named the team.
The new Ant-Man movie however features the second Ant-Man, Scott Lang, which is probably a good thing really. Why's that, you ask? Simply put, because Hank Pym was pretty much one of the worst comic book heroes out there.
In the comics, it's Hank Pym who creates Ultron, but that's fairly minor compared to the other stuff he pulled. After all, creating Ultron was pretty much an accident, much like Iron Man's mistakes in Age of Ultron. But later in the comics, Pym inhales chemicals that drive him crazy and took on the identity of Yellowjacket, a villain that would repeatedly fight the Avengers.
On the weird front, the comics also explore how Pym uses his powers to pleasure his wife, but there are also multiple examples of him hitting the Wasp, and spousal abuse has become pretty much a defining trait of the character in the eyes of the public.
From the trailers, it becomes clear that the Ant-Man movie will focus more on the second Ant-Man, Scott Lang, played here by Paul Rudd. Michael Douglas plays Hank Pym, and he gives the Ant-Man suit to Scott Lang, and teaches him how to use it.
Also in the movie is his daughter, Hope Van Dyne. We know that she gets to play the Wasp in next year's Civil War movie, so it would appear that Janet Van Dyne's part has been dropped altogether. Lang, who's an electronics expert in the comics, turns to a life of crime when his daughter Cassie falls sick, and this is something that the movie seems to feature as well.
In the comics, Lang steals the Ant-Man suit from Hank Pym, and uses it to rescue the doctor who can save his daughter's life. When he returns to Pym to give the suit back, he's told to keep it and take up the mantle. This is actually pretty big because it will also be the first time we see the transition from one version of a superhero to the next, in the MCU. In a way, this could set the precedent for a new Iron Man, and a new Captain America, which makes sense because the actors aren't exactly getting younger.
Ant-Man's powers remain more or less the same between different versions - he can shrink himself and nearby objects to the size of an ant, and then return to normal. He also wears a special helmet that allows limited communication with ants and other insects, and the helmet also allows him to talk to normal sized humans when he's shrunk down.
Also, we get to see the Yellowjacket in the upcoming movie as well - that's pretty clear from the trailers - but it's not Hank Pym any more, but instead Darren Cross, a regular Ant-Man foe from the Scott Lang era.
Over the course of the comic books, Lang would fight alongside the Avengers, and both his electronics skills and his superpowers were often used to save the team. Eventually, he becomes a member of the Avengers.
After Scott Lang died, Eric O'Grady, an agent of SHIELD is the next person to become the Ant-Man. The super-suit had been stored in SHIELD headquarters, and O'Grady decided that he could take it for himself, though he was a short lived Ant-Man as he died in a Secret Avengers comic.
All in all, the Ant-Man character has had a weird and varied history, but it's often been a fun title to follow. In the very first Ant-Man comic, Hank Pym was already using rubber bands to turn himself into a (tiny) human cannonball. Scott Lang has dived headfirst into the Iron Man suit, to free Tony Stark from within. He's able to sneak in and out past all kinds of security, and command swarms of stinging, biting insects.
From the trailer, the Ant-Man movie looks like it's going to be fun, and Paul Rudd looks like he fits right into the MCU in terms of tone. It's going to be interesting to see what parts Marvel decides to keep and what it chooses to drop about the character, and how all this will connect to the rest of the MCU but what we know so far is all positive.