Ant-Man & the Wasp introduced viewers to Bill Foster, better known to comic book readers as Goliath. Unfortunately, the film absolutely wasted Foster's potential with his Giant-Man alter-ego kept in stories of the past. This should be corrected in Ant-Man 3.
Bill Foster was originally created by Stan Lee and Don Heck in 1966, introduced as an employee of Stark Industries who was assigned to work as Hank Pym's lab assistant; he soon proved to be a genius, even saving Pym's life when he became stuck in Giant-Man size. Finally, in 1975, Tony Isabella and George Tuska penned a story in which Foster became a hero in his own right, originally called "Black Goliath." Although Goliath has never exactly been an A-list superhero, he's a classic character who even inherited the mantle of Giant-Man for a time. Foster was sadly killed in the 2006-2007 Civil War miniseries; unusually for comics, he's yet to be resurrected.
When it was announced Laurence Fishburne had been cast for the part of Bill Foster in Ant-Man & the Wasp, this was obviously a very exciting proposition. In a franchise full of throwbacks to the past, it promised a perfectly chosen character - and raised hopes of seeing Goliath on the big screen.
Ant-Man & the Wasp Wasted Bill Foster
On the face of it, Ant-Man & the Wasp got the basics of Bill Foster right. He was introduced as an old lab assistant of Hank Pym's, a former member of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Sci-Tech division who'd worked on the Pym Particles back in the '80s and '90s. The big twist was that he was the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent assigned to investigate Ava Starr's tragic fate, which nevertheless makes sense; after Pym quit S.H.I.E.L.D., Foster would be the agency's foremost expert on the Quantum Realm. Clearly feeling a sense of responsibility due to his part in developing the technology that affected Ava, Foster dedicated himself to stabilizing her condition. He even continued this work after the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D.. This is definitely a fair portrayal of Bill Foster; a skilled scientist, albeit one step below Hank Pym in terms of genius, but frankly a much more reasonable and compassionate man. The comic book version of Bill Foster was never able to ignore a cry for help either.
For all these positives, though, the film still misses the mark for one simple reason; Bill Foster is not just a scientist, he's also a superhero. Ant-Man & the Wasp confined Foster's Goliath days to the past, only really used for a size-comparing joke with Scott Lang. In fact, it's heavily implied that Foster's only experiments with size-changing were done under laboratory conditions and that he never used Pym Particles in the field at all. Making matter worse, Foster shows no tactical skill in the film either; there are two scenes in which Foster is rounded up by giant ants, but he hasn't thought of any counter at all.
Basically, anything on the Goliath side of Foster is absent from the finished film. He could definitely have worked in the story - with Scott Lang's size regulator malfunctioning, Goliath would have been a true challenge - and concept art reveals Marvel toyed with the idea of having not one but two Giant-Men in play during the finale. This may suggest at one point Goliath could have appeared, although does nothing to help the released Ant-Man & the Wasp.
What's Next for Bill Foster?
Ant-Man & the Wasp's box office performance has been fairly disappointing, so it's quite possible we won't get a third film in the franchise. But that doesn't mean that major characters like Bill Foster and Ghost have to be written out of the MCU for good. The two are perfectly suited to become supporting cast for the wider shared universe, not least because the Quantum Realm appears to be important to the future direction. As one of the world's foremost experts in the Quantum Realm, and possibly a survivor of the "snap," Foster could play a key role in helping the Avengers unlock this mysterious dimension's true potential.
But it's important that Marvel Studios stop treating Foster as a second-rate Hank Pym, and instead give him a moment to shine for himself - including as Goliath. The post-credits scene for Avengers: Infinity War revealed that an inheritor to S.H.I.E.L.D. is operating in the MCU right now. Once the "snap" plot is resolved, it would be sensible to see Bill Foster become a field agent for this mysterious organization. This time, though, he should be one of their "enhanced" assets, a superhuman scientist who uses his size-changing powers to make a difference in the world.
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019