Why It Took 53 Years for an Ant-Man Movie: "Those are Weird Powers"

Courtesy of Disney

The tiny hero has been around since 1962 but needed a story that would translate to film. Cue Michael Douglas as "a mentor passing the torch."

This story first appeared in the July 3 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Ant-Man never enjoyed the stature of a Spider-Man or even an Iron Man in the world of Marvel Comics, but he became a resilient character who has endured and even undergone several transformations.

The diminutive alter ego of scientist Hank Pym, created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers, he first flexed his tiny muscles in a 1962 issue of Tales to Astonish. While Pym would go on to join the Avengers and also adopt other super-identities like Giant-Man, in 1979, Scott Lang entered the picture as a thief who tries to steal the Ant-Man suit but instead joins forces with Pym to become a force for good. The character underwent yet another rewrite in 2006, when Eric O'Grady, a low-level SHIELD agent, stole the suit for his own nefarious purposes.

"He's never been able to sustain a long-term solo series but makes an interesting -- pardon the pun -- short-run character," says former Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Roy Thomas of Ant-Man's comics career. "He's always fascinated artists and writers who are looking to handle something different from the usual superhero."

The Ant-Man filmmakers chose to focus on the Scott Lang incarnation of the character, with Pym (Michael Douglas) serving as his mentor. "The notion of a mentor passing the torch always seemed exciting to us," says Marvel's Kevin Feige. "We'd never done that before."

Adds director Peyton Reed, "Ant-Man is certainly a lesser-known character to the general public, but I personally liked that he's lesser-known. People may know that he can shrink down to the size of an ant, but those are really weird powers. How are they going to come in handy?"