Five years ago today, Ant-Man was released in theaters to become the underdog movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (if you can call grossing over half a billion dollars an underdog movie). Just like his movie, Ant-Man is one of the more underappreciated Avengers – maybe the most underappreciated. But our plucky dude deserves more credit than he gets. Let’s remedy that, shall we? In honor of Ant-Man‘s 5th anniversary, here are five reasons Ant-Man is the most underrated Avenger.
1. Every Team Needs A Member Who Brings Levity To The Group
One of the long-running criticisms of Marvel movies from certain corners of the internet is that they’re “too funny” and have too much humor (superheroing is supposed to be a grim slog, you see). But as the stakes have gotten direr, the movies have gotten more serious. Both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame are tough. Endgame, in particular, finds our heroes spending most of the movie grappling with grief, depression, and unimaginable loss.
That’s what makes Scott Lang so important to the team. He’s an innate optimist and his can-do attitude is an important buoy when some of the team’s strongest members and co-leaders, Natasha Romanoff and Steve Rogers, are struggling to lead the others in the midst of their grief. Thor is absolutely spiraling. Tony Stark is bitter and off the grid. Hawkeye is off being a psychopath. Scott is reeling from the one-two punch of coming back from being stuck in the Quantum Realm and suddenly having to process that half the world is gone. But being thrown right back into the action means he doesn’t have much time to dwell on the loss or get entrenched in his depression the way the others have. His optimism is a vital piece of what reenergizes the team and keeps them from going too dark in their heads.
2. He Doesn’t Take Being A Superhero For Granted
Being a superhero is, well, a job. And not an easy one. While the Avengers all view their roles as superheroes as a duty and a responsibility, for many of them, it’s become a duty tainted with more than a bit of cynicism and the jadedness that comes with having the weight of the world on their shoulders for so long. But Scott Lang is relatively new to the superhero game. It’s still amazing to him that he has superpowers, that he has a cool costume, that he actually gets to team up with Captain freaking America. He doesn’t quite feel he’s earned his place on the team yet and it keeps him humble. He’s similar to Spider-Man in his enthusiasm for being a superhero, but his gratitude comes from a different place. That’s because…
3. He’s Proof People Can Be Redeemed
Scott Lang is – or rather, was – a screw-up for most of his life. A clever mind and all the potential in the world and he threw it away by taking the easy way out. Rather than using his brains to become an engineer or to start his own business and become a dependable father, he used them to become a cat burglar and criminal. Inevitably, he was caught and did a few years of jail time. When he’s released, he has no place to call his own, no job, no prospects, and his relationship with his ex-wife and daughter are more damaged than ever.
But Scott is proof that sometimes, people just need to have someone hold them accountable and to believe in them. To show them they’re worth being held to a higher standard. When Hank Pym gives him that opportunity, Scott rises to the challenge. He becomes the new Ant-Man with all it entails. Scott doesn’t just complete the single mission of Ant-Man, he embraces being a superhero as a lifestyle, stepping in to help the Avengers when he’s needed and becoming a hero not just to his daughter, but to the entire world. His story is that of a good man who had had a few bad breaks. He just needed to be given a chance to show he was more than an ex-con.
4. He’s Got The Quantum Realm On Lock
Let’s be real: Literally none of the Avengers’ wins in Endgame would have been possible without Scott Lang. Without his knowledge of the Quantum Realm, they’d not have figured out to go back in time. They’d not have been able to gather up the Infinity Stones. They’d not have been able to bring the other heroes back to stop Thanos and return the missing half of the population into existence. They’d not have been able to accidentally spring pre-redemption, 2012 Loki free and in possession of the Tesseract to wreak untold chaos in – well, okay. That last one is technically not an ideal outcome, but that’s a problem for the future Avengers.
Sure, everyone always looks to Tony Stark and Bruce Banner as being the big brains of the group, but Scott Lang isn’t a dummy. No one knows more about how the Quantum Realm works than Scott Lang, and his outside-the-box thinking and penchant for risk-taking has saved the day more than once. The Quantum Realm will arguably be one of the most important elements in the MCU moving forward, providing ample opportunities to introduce new characters and multiple worlds it up. While Hank Pym discovered it, it’s all thanks to Ant-Man that the modern-day Avengers figured out how to crack its code.
5. He’s Secure In His Masculinity
Ask Scott Lang who’s the better, smarter half in his partnership with Hope Van Dyne, a.k.a. The Wasp, and he’ll likely point at Hope and say, “She is.” From the very beginning, Scott has been aware of and has acknowledged that Hope is his superior in almost every way. She’s the one who taught him how to control ants with his mind. She’s the one who taught him how to shrink and grow on a dime. She’s the one who taught him how to throw a proper punch and engage in hand-to-hand combat. At one point in Ant-Man, he flat-out says Hope is the one who should be wearing the Ant-Man suit and completing the heist because her abilities run circles around his.
But where we might expect his male ego to surface, especially as Hope is not just his superhero partner, but also his romantic partner, it never does. Scott is completely aware of what he brings to the table and what he doesn’t. Rather than stealing the spotlight, he’s content to let Hope lead the way much of the time. Yet, he’s also worked harder to step up his game because of Hope, to get on her level. He’s driven not by insecurity, but by recognizing that she is way out of his league in multiple areas and it inspires him to unlock his potential to stand at her side as her partner in life and in crime-fighting. It’s a true partnership of equals in every way and it’s a refreshing one to see.
What’s your favorite Ant-Man moment?