Ant-agonist Now: Casting Villains for Marvel's "Ant-Man"

Tue, February 25th, 2014 at 11:58am PST

TV/Film
Marc Buxton, Contributing Writer

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Now that casting for Marvel Studios' "Ant-Man" seems to be almost complete, it's time for fans to turn their attention to the possible villains Paul Rudd's diminutive hero Scott Lang will have to face in his 2015 film debut. Ant-Man doesnt exactly have a rogues gallery on the level of Avengers heavy-hitters like Iron Man or Captain America, but there are some memorable monsters and evil-doers that could make for fantastic cinematic adversaries when the hero makes his way to the big screen.

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While some of the villains listed below may seem a bit dated by modern dramatic standards, fans would do well to remember "Ant-Man" will be directed by Edgar Wright, a filmmaker with the right sensibilities and deft touch to make any threat entertaining. In Wright's hands, it's quite possible that not only would any of these villains work, but also prove to be one of the most formidable menaces Marvel has brought to the screen thus far. Without further ado, CBR invites you to take a peek back into the annals of Marvel history and find some Ant-Man villains for Wright and his cast to play with.

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Pilai the Kosmonian
Created by Stan Lee and H.E. Huntley
First appearance: "Tales to Astonish" #44 (1963)

The most "Doctor Who"-esque of any of Ant-Man's rogues, Pilai the Kosmonian may look like a corpulent baby in the midst of a reaction to eating bad shell fish, but he was the first villain the Wasp ever faced and is also a monstrous threat that Wright could absolutely nail. In fact, it was Pilai that murdered Wasp's father, compelling her to undergo the procedure that would allow her to shrink and grow wings. Assuming the Wasp is in the film, tying her origin to Pilai would be historically appropriate. As fans who watched "The World's End," fans know that Wright could pull off a tongue-in-cheek alien invasion pastiche with the best of them. If Groot can work in "Guardians of the Galaxy," why not Pilai, the blob responsible for Janet Van Dyne's heroic beginnings?

Scarlet Beetle
Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby
First appearance: "Tales to Astonish" #39 (1963)

I know what you're thinking. A giant red beetle dedicated to complete world domination is stretching it a bit, even for Edgar Wright. Based on his work in "World's End" and "Scott Pilgrim," Wright's quirky genius could manage the proper tone to transform a character like the Scarlet Beetle from oddball comic villain to big screen menace. This titanic terror was once an ordinary beetle exposed to a vast amount of radiation which caused it to mutate and gain conscious thought along with the ability to command insects. In other words, the Scarlet Beetle has pretty much the same abilities as Ant-Man, including the ability to manipulate his size and command over insects, the only difference being the villain is a giant red beetle. In fact, it was Ant-Man's own technology the Beetle stole to become a giant monster worthy of the Toho Hall of Fame. The Scarlet Beetle is also a powerful telepath -- imagine him as a mash-up of Ant-Man and Professor Xavier and you can begin to see why he would work on film. With Wright's unique perspective even a villain as silly as the Scarlet Beetle could not only work, but also be positively terrifying.

Madame Macabre
Created by Stan Lee and Bob Powell
First appearance: "Tales to Astonish" #66 (1965)
Real Name: Unknown

She might be a bit esoteric, but Madame Macabre's origin could make her a perfect addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Ant-Man's first foe. As a little girl, the good Madame was saved from being run over by a rickshaw by a mysterious stranger. The stranger saw that the girl was extremely intelligent for her age and supported her education, making her a loyal follower. That stranger was none other than the Mandarin -- a name readers and filmgoers alike will recognize thanks to his appearance in "Iron Man 3." By connecting her to another established villain, Madame Macabre could instantly resonate with fans dying to see the next chapter in the Mandarin saga. Macabre also has the ability to shrink inanimate objects which would be a nice counterpoint to Scott Lang's abilities. Possessing beauty, brains and a comics-based connection to a great villain, Madame Macabre would instantly shift from from unfamiliar to compelling.

The Voice
Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Don Heck
First appearance: "Tales to Astonish" #42 (1963)
Real Name: Jason Cragg

Another little known baddie, Jason Cragg was a radio DJ who used his voice to control his legions of listeners. Come to think of it, that can work better now in the world of 24 hour media and constant talk radio than it did back in the Silver Age. Wright can totally play up a blowhard political host or shock jock to be a great villain for Lang. The commentary about modern media would be appropriate and thematically strong as the Voice used his powers to control all those around Lang. In some of his later appearances in the Silver Age, the Voice was a minion of the Red Skull. That would certainly fit into the Marvel film tapestry, a radio host who is secretly trying to spread the message of the Skull? It would give the legacy of the Skull a further significance past his appearance in "Captain America: the First Avenger," and serve as some nice connective tissue between "Ant-Man" and other Marvel films.

The Porcupine
Created by Stan Lee and Don Heck
Real Name: Alexander Gentry

While The Porcupine does have a certain ring to it, the name doesn't exactly strike fear into the hearts of men the way, say, Loki, Magneto, the Red Skull or the Abomination does. In the hands of a storyteller like Wright, however, the ridiculous can become the sublime and a villain as odd as the Porcupine can be used to make "Ant-Man" a superhero film like no other. Something about an evil dude wreaking havoc in a suit of armor that can shoot porcupine quills screams awesome. Actually, the Porcupine has some pretty powerful tech with quills that can shoot poison gas, acid, and other nefarious materials. Even if he isn't the movie's main villain, perhaps the Porcupine can function as a high level soldier for the movie's real big bad, or possibly played for laughs in the no doubt comedic take on superhero tropes Wright seems to be constructing. In either case, the Porcupine could pack a prick to be reckoned with.

The Black Knight
Created by Stan Lee and Don Heck
First appearance: "Tales to Astonish" #52 (1964)
Real Name: Nathan Garrett

Many of Ant-Man's bad guys don't translate well to today's villainous standards, but the original Black Knight can step into any era and still make for an interesting antagonist. From his iconic name to his awesome medieval gadgets, the original Knight can be a worthy foe to Scott Lang in the film just as he was for Hank Pym in the comics. A shrinking man fighting a man in armor astride a flying horse would certainly be an attention getter. Plus, the inclusion of the evil Black Knight could lead to the introduction of Dane Whitman, the heroic Black Knight, who later joins the Avengers.

Egghead
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
First appearance "Tales to Astonish" #38 (1962)
Real name: Elihas Starr

One of Hank Pym's first recurring villains, Egghead can be the cinematic menace that plagues Rudd's Scott Lang. In the comics, Egghead manipulated Pym, whom Michael Douglas will portray in the film, to commit crimes which led to him falling out of favor with his teammates. This, in turn, led to the slap heard 'round the world, as Pym struck Janet, a moment that has become indelibly linked to Pym's legacy. If Pym does somehow experience a fall from grace in the film, wouldn't the manipulative genius, Egghead, be a perfect catalyst for that fall? Wright could bring Egghead to life, turning the once cheesy villain into the cause of the potential tragedy surrounding the film version of Pym. Many assume that Pym will take some kind of antagonistic role to Lang, and although this has not been confirmed, there is an established comic history of Egghead darkening the spirit of Hank Pym.

Whirlwind
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
First appearance: "Tales to Astonish" #50 (1963)
Real Name: David Cannon

David Cannon began his criminal career as the Human Top but soon realized that doing so was about as threatening as calling himself Cheese Snack and changed his moniker to the more dangerous sounding Whirlwind. At first, Whirlwind was a typical villain out for profit, using his power to spin at incredible speed to make himself rich, but in later years Cannon became a more insidious type of villain as he became obsessed with Janet Van Dyne. Cannon once posed as Van Dyne's chauffeur to get closer to her, and when the time was right, he tried to murder his obsession and her husband, Hank Pym. While Wasp's inclusion in the film has yet to be confirmed -- and Evangeline Lilly, who is reportedly up for a role, seems like a perfect fit -- Whirlwind could provide a dramatic impetus to get Ant-Man and the Wasp together. Whirlwind would also possess a stellar visual design with his attention-grabbing helmet and wrist-mounted buzzsaws. As a villain, Whirlwind poses a threat to both members of the insect-based heroic duo and his slimy motivations could make him the kind of compelling villain modern audiences can wrap their heads around.

Eric O'Grady
Created by Robert Kirkman and Phil Hester
First appearance: "Civil War: Choosing Sides" #1 (2006)

A low level S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who steals some of Pym's tech, the "Irredeemable Ant-Man" sounds right up frequent Wright collaborator Simon Pegg's alley. Perhaps Lang and O'Grady could start out as partners in crime and each follow a different path using Pym's stolen gear. In recent issues of "Secret Avengers," O'Grady was killed and replaced with an LMD who became the evil Black Ant, a nifty alias that could be recycled for the film -- or maybe Wright can have O'Grady become the Black Ant from the get go. Whatever the case, the character created by "The Walking Dead" mastermind Robert Kirkman would be a perfect cinematic foil for Rudd's Lang. O'Grady is a selfish, oafish, jerk who finds the most immoral way to use his powers. Add Pym to the mix and you have potential for many different conflicts between the leads. Having the three men who each wore the mantle of Ant-Man play off each other would be a fitting testament to Marvel history and serve to contrast eachother's quirks and assets.

Hank Pym
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
First appearance: Tales to Astonish #27 (1962)

Many believe Hank Pym will be the villain in "Ant-Man." This might be nothing more than clever subterfuge by Marvel Studios, and perhaps Pym will take on the mentor role to Scott Lang, just as he did in the comics. Maybe Pym will be the retired hero, or maybe Lang will start the film off as a thief and steal Pym's technology to become the new Ant-Man and have to prove himself worthy in Pym's eyes to take up the heroic mantle Pym originated. Another option is to follow the dark path of Pym's story, one paved with spousal abuse, narcissism and mental illness. To some, it may seem unfair that one of Marvel's original heroes would become a villain in the eyes of the general public, but maybe, just maybe, Pym's villainous film debut could be a riveting tale of redemption for one of Marvel's first Avengers. Lang's heroic journey could culminate in saving Hank Pym's legacy. This may seem like a great deal of speculation, but in the early stages of the film and with very little confirmed, there is a great deal to process in trying to dissect a movie that has noted actors portraying both Lang and Pym. In both the regular and Ultimate Marvel Universes -- particularly in the latter, which has provided plenty of material for Marvel Studios to mine -- Pym has had some very dark moments. A film focusing on these moments could lead Hank Pym to become one of Marvel Studios' greatest villains.

Stay tuned to CBR News for more on Marvel Studios' "Ant-Man" as it develops.

TAGS:  marvel comics, marvel studios, ant-man, edgar wright, paul rudd, michael douglas

 
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