Debuting in 1962 in Tales to Astonish issue #27, Ant-Man was never intended to be a fully fleshed-out hero. At the time, the creative team of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Larry Lieber, and Dick Ayers wanted to create a one-shot story called about a man that shrunk himself and gets chased by insects. However, the short story "The Man in the Ant Hill" became more popular than expected.
Lee shared with USA Today that the story “sold so well that I thought making him into a superhero might be fun." However, the quirky tale of the shrinking scientist took quite a dark turn during his time at Marvel Comics. Plagued by untreated mental illness and numerous insecurities, the original character of Dr. Henry "Hank" Pym has made some questionable choices in the comics.
The next Ant-Man, Scott Lang served as a more redeeming version of the problematic character, but his death brought an end to that revitalization. The negative image returned with third Ant-Man, the morally corrupt S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Eric O’Grady.
From kidnapping and domestic violence to robbery and voyeurism, Ant-Man has built a reputation for being a superhero who is, well, not so super, overall. Here are the 15 Worse Things Ant-Man Has Done.
15 Kidnapped the Wasp and Married Her
Original Ant-Man Hank Pym longed to commit to his partner and love interest, Janet van Dyne, but never found the courage to do so. While contemplating his romantic situation, he accidentally spilled some chemicals that caused him to have a schizophrenic episode. The result was the creation of the arrogant persona of Yellow Jacket.
Donning a new confident and aggressive attitude, he sought out the Avengers and demanded to be made a member. He also boasted that he has “taken care of" Hank Pym. As van Dyne was about to confront him, Yellow Jacket knocked her out and kidnapped her. She awoke to find herself his captive, and he pushed himself on her, declaring his affections for her (something Pym could never do). He even asked for her hand in marriage.
After recognizing his voice and his kiss (he forced her to kiss him), she decided to take advantage of his “breakdown” and finally get the marriage she had hoped for. Two-for-one special on worst behaviors by both of these heroes.
14 Burned Half of Mitch Carson's Face, Blinding & Deafening him
Taking over the title of Ant-Man from Pym, Scott Lang came into the role in a desperate attempt to save his daughter. Recognizing the good in his heart, Pym passed on the title to Lang to serve as his permanent replacement. Lang’s portrayal of Ant-Man was so well-received that he served as the primary focus of the 2015 movie Ant-Man.
However, after sacrificing himself, the title was unjustly stolen by low-level S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Eric O’Grady. Premiering in the appropriately titled series The Irredeemable Ant-Man, O’Grady took the suit off the body of his deceased best friend to save his own life (very classy).
After escaping their facility that was under attack, he began to test out his new powers in some pretty despicable ways. However, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Mitch Carson, the chosen Ant-Man replacement, continued to search for the rogue Ant-Man until he finally tracked O’Grady down.
While attempting to escape, O’Grady accidentally burned Carson’s face with his jet pack. Now blind and deaf on one side of his face, Carson set his sights on revenge for O’Grady’s actions.
13 Robbed A Jewelry Thief and Pawned The Loot for Himself
For a real superhero, the discovery his or her powers is an exciting time. You can learn more about your strengths and weaknesses and determine how you can better serve the public. This was not the case for O’Grady, though. In his mind, the Ant-Man suits allowed him to commit more crimes and theft without the concern of being caught.
Though O'Grady did occasional help the public (often begrudgingly), he mainly focused on actions that only benefited himself. During a fight involving the Avengers, Ant-Man took advantage of the distraction to seek some overlooked financial opportunities (aka robbery).
In his pursuit of unprotected valuables, O'Gradu stumbles across Black Fox robbing a jewelry store. He quickly captured him and then took the stolen goods for himself! When Black Fox later confronted him for his jewelry, O’Grady confessed that he had already pawned them. Your new Ant-Man, ladies and gentlemen.
12 Created Multiple Alter Egos Due To Mental Instabilities
Although a brilliant biochemist, Hank Pym has long battled mental illness. His mental breakdowns initially began with the murder of his first wife, Maria Trovaya. Since then, his shattered psyche often created new personas or erratic behaviors to deal with the stress. The stress-induced personas would often act out of character for Pym, compensating for whatever void he was trying to fill.
While under mental distress, he developed the alter ego of Yellow Jacket in The Avengers issue #59. However, even taking on the new persona did not always resolve his issues so he would often abandon the new identity. There was even an instance when he took on his wife’s superhero persona as the Wasp as a means to honor and cope with her (alleged) death.
However, mental illness was not the only reason for his new personas. In a moment of feeling inadequate compared to his stronger Avengers teammates, he stumbled upon the ability to make himself grown to a giant size. Hey, if you can’t beat them, outgrow them!
11 Contemplated Suicide After Being Taunted By A Foe
Over the years, the pressures of being a superhero began to take its toll on Pym. Between his mental instabilities and multiple failed personas, he never felt he could live up to his teammates. Adding to that his jealousy of his wife’s wealth and his inability to be a good husband to her, Pym often reached very low points in his life.
After his latest failure in his last persona as the Yellow Jacket, he decided to work with the West Coast Avengers in an advisory role only. However, a confrontation with his former enemy Whirlwind brought all of his insecurities to the surface. When Whirlwind taunted Pym about his failed attempts at being a hero, Pym took the villain’s words to heart and decided to commit suicide in West Coast Avengers vol. 2 issue #17.
Readers saw Pym prepare for his death by writing letters to his fellow Avengers and saying his goodbyes to the Wasp via video call. Pym was just about to complete his suicide with a gun to his temple when Firebird appeared and sent him on a mission. Readers almost witnessed the end of the Ant-Man.
10 Defamed Scott Lang and Hit Lang's Daughter
When taking over the title of a superhero from the previous owner, there is usually a sense of pride and honor. Again, this is O’Grady we are talking about, so those terms do not exist to him.
He continued his repugnant ways even after he joined the Initiative. However, in an attempt to distinguish himself from his more distinguished predecessor, Scott Lang, O’Grady decided to bring his reputation down a peg or two. When Taskmaster confronted Ant-Man about his actions, he proceeded to share his own tales of mischief but claimed these crimes were committed by Lang instead.
Unfortunately for O’Grady, Lang’s daughter, Cassie, was nearby and heard him besmirching her father’s legacy. She confronted him, and the two began to battle in their giant forms. However, after distracting her, O’Grady got the advantage and clocked her, sending her painfully to the ground. His response after the violent blow: “Who’s your daddy now?” Classy…
9 Helped His Enemy Commit A Robbery For Money
After being kicked out of the Avengers and being divorced by his wife, Pym found himself destitute due to his actions. While he was too prideful to accept alimony from his ex-wife, he was more than willing to receive funding from his enemy Egghead.
In a desperate attempt to save himself, Pym agreed to help Egghead in attaching a new robotic arm on his niece. However, once attached, his niece Patricia seemed to be under his enemy’s control against her will. Egghead threatened Patricia’s life if Pym did not comply with his orders. Pym was blackmailed into robbing the national reserve of adamantium for his enemy.
He was caught while committing the crime and sentenced for treason. Egghead removed all evidence of his involvement with the crime (he was presumed to be dead) and brainwashed his niece into blaming Pym for the offense.
8 Created Ultron
Although the backstory for the origins of Ultron was altered for the 2015 movie Avengers: Age of Ultron, his real creator was none other than Hank Pym. While trying to make breakthroughs in the science of artificial intelligence, Pym inevitably created the first model Ultron, known as Ultron-1. He based his creation’s thought patterns and intelligence on his own mind.
Ultron, however, became a more sentient being and soon turned on his creator. After upgrading his own body several times and finally becoming the self-dubbed Ultron 5, he brainwashed Pym into believing he never created him in the first place. Taking a page from his creator’s obsessive alter ego creation, Ultron-5 developed the Crimson Cowl disguise and reformed a new Masters of Evil team to destroy the Avengers. Although his plan failed, he never gave up on seeking revenge on Pym and his team.
Since his appearance in The Avengers issue #54 in 1968, Ultron has continued to re-emerge throughout the years with his sights set on ruining the Avengers and other heroes in the Marvel Universe.
7 Attacked the Avengers While Brainwashed by Ultron
Ultron’s ultimate goal was to make Pym and the Avengers suffer as much as possible. During a confrontation between the two new enemies, Ultron managed to brainwash Pym again and regressed his mind from that of Yellow Jacket to that of the original Ant-Man persona.
When Pym arrived at Avengers Mansion, he believed himself to be meeting the team for the first time. However, once he caught sight of several members who were unfamiliar to him, he began attacking the team furiously. Believing them to be imposters, he turned his army of ants on his team. They attempted to fight back, but his attacks were too overwhelming.
Later on, Ultron even convinced Pym to transfer the Wasp’s mind into the body of his newly built bride, Jocasta.
6 Used His Superhero Status To Get Laid And Stalk Women
Theft was not the only new vice that O’Grady took advantage of in his new role as Ant-Man. He soon realized that his superhero title could get him laid as well. O’Grady made it a point only to help attractive women and then later boast about his status to impress them. His rescues even lead to going on dates with some of the victims.
However, if he was unable to “close the deal”, he would later follow them home and spy on them. He would shrink down to his small size and creepily watch these woman undress and even bathe. Truly despicable behavior! Civilians were not his only victims, though.
O'Grady once stalked Ms. Marvel, the leader of the Mighty Avengers at the time, to her home by hiding in her purse. Even after discovering she was a member of S.H.I.E.L.D. (and possibly blowing his cover), he still followed her into the bathroom and watched her.
5 Seduced His Dead Best Friend’s Girlfriend And Left Her While She Was Pregnant
O’Grady’s inherent selfishness and greed continued to lead him in pursuit of things that never belonged to him in the first place. Along with his predisposition for theft and voyeurism, he also desired his best friend’s girlfriend. He often took opportunities to bad mouth his friend Chris in front of her in order to end their relationship.
Though these tricks never worked on her, he was able to seduce her at the sleaziest moment ever: his best friend’s funeral. After dying during an attack on the Helicarrier (when O’Grady initially stole the Ant-Man suit), he finally saw his opportunity to have Veronica. He made several attempts to console her during her time of mourning and eventually succeedws.
While the two of them were standing at Chris’s grave, Veronica gave in to temptation and began making out with O’Grady. Though she almost committed the heinous act of having sex on her boyfriend’s grave, Veronica came to her sense and stopped.
However, after eventually having sex with O’Grady, Veronica later found out that she was pregnant. When she approached him with the news, Ant-Man dismissed her stating her would not be a good father and ended their relationship.
4 Killed The Blob By Biting His Head Off
The Ultimate Marvel series took a much darker approach in its portrayal of Ant-Man. Fans were introduced to a very similar Hank Pym living on Earth-1610. Still struggling with mental instability and a troubled marriage, he also faced issues with his team as well.
Although depicted as a cruel and overbearing man, his brutality was truly highlighted in the “Ultimatum” storyline in 2009. After several natural disasters and the deaths of several major characters, the remaining heroes search for survivors. Though a terrible husband, Ant-Man still diligently looked for his missing wife. What he found was the Blob eating her corpse.
Enraged at this sight, he converted to his Giant-Man state and confronted the Blob. In one of the most shockingly violent moments in this series. Ant-Man then bit Blob’s head off and spat it on the ground to the shock of his teammates.
3 Faked A Rescue Mission To Avoid Being Kicked Out Of The Avengers
Ant-Man’s commitment and dedication to the Avengers have always been important to him. Not only was he a frequent member of the team, but he was one of the founding members as well. Although he and the Wasp would take breaks from being involved with the team, they always found their way back.
However, when faced with being court-marshalled by the Avengers, Pym took extreme members to clear his name. After being accused of attacking a captured enemy from behind, Pym began a devious plan to make himself look like the hero.
Suffering from another mental breakdown due to stress, he began building a robot that would be nearly impossible for the Avengers to take down. He, however, knew of its weak point and could easily stop it when he wanted to. The Wasp stumbled upon his plan and, when she tried to stop him, Pym managed to commit yet another atrocious act against his wife.
2 Struck His Wife
Regarded as one of the worst acts committed by Hank Pym, he stopped his wife from interfering with his plan by slapping her. His act of domestic violence did not sit well with the Avengers, and he was subsequently expelled in The Avengers vol 1 issue #213. van Dyne also started the paperwork to divorce him finally.
Interestingly enough, the slap was not meant to be that extreme. Editor Jim Shooter had initially intended for Ant-Man to just accidentally knock his wife down during the course of the argument. As reported on his website Jimshooter.com, he shared that, Bob Hall, who had been taught by John Buscema to always go for the most extreme action, turned that into a right cross!
There was no time to have it redrawn, which, to this day has caused the tragic story of Hank Pym to be known as the "wife-beater’ story.” Despite numerous attempts to redeem himself with the team and his ex-wife in the comics, to this day fans still think of Ant-Man as “the hero that hit his wife”.
1 Tried to Kill the Wasp
While the domestic abuse issue will remain one of the classic Pym’s lowest moments, a newer version of the character had him committing an even more deadly act toward the Wasp.
Returning to the Marvel Ultimate series, the abusive Pym was involved in a very heated argument with his wife over her friendship with Captain America. In Ultimates issue #6, the couple gets into a physical altercation at their home. The Wasp then shrunk down to her smaller size to get away from her husband, but he cornered her and sprayed her with bug spray. She hid under the desk to catch her breath after inhaling the toxic fumes while her husband berated her.
For his next attack, he sent an army of ants after her. It was not until after this final attack that he reflected on what he had done to his wife. Their fight resulted in Janet’s hospitalization and his expulsion from the Ultimates.
Are there any despicable moments in Ant-Man's history that we missed? Let us know in the comments!