Having first appeared in January 1962 in the pages of Tales to Astonish #27, Doctor Hank Pym is a good year older than the Avengers.
Teaming up with his partner, Janet van Dyne a.k.a. The Wasp, and Iron Man, Thor and, the Hulk, Hank Pym formed the Avengers. It would only be in The Avengers #4 that Captain America is discovered by the team and invited to join them, receiving the title of ‘founding member’ in lieu of the now-missing Hulk.
Hank Pym Has Some Identity Crisis Issues
You would think that one secret identity alias would be enough. Two, perhaps, if you were a sidekick finding your identity as a man out of your mentor’s shadow like Kid Flash, or maybe three if you’ve been selected to fulfil the role of your mentor like Nightwing and Arsenal. But more than three? That’s a little overkill.
Having first appeared as Ant-Man in Tales to Astonish #35, Hank quickly changed his mind due to size-insecurity issues and called himself Giant-Man starting from Tales to Astonish #49. This came to an end when hyphens kinda went outta fashion (unless you’re Spider-Man) and he was then known as Goliath as of The Avengers #28, only to once again submit to brand confusion and call himself Yellowjacket in The Avengers #59.
The madness, unfortunately, doesn’t end there. Shortly after the supposed death of his ex-wife Janet van Dyne, Hank took the name Wasp in memory of her. While Hank eventually does go back to using his older monikers, he’s currently been merged with Ultron as last seen in Rage of Ultron.
Ultron is Actually His Fault
With Avengers: Age of Ultron having once again turned people’s attention to comics, the current impression is that Tony Stark did actually create Ultron.
Except he didn’t.
Created by Hank Pym, Ultron first appeared in The Avengers #54 as the Crimson Cowl before revealing his true name and origins. It seems like taking on multiple names is something that Ultron may have inherited from daddy Pym.
More interestingly, the first appearance of adamantium, the metal best associated with the X-Man Wolverine, was introduced by Ultron as the material for his body as Ultimate Ultron. This, was of course, changed to being vibranium in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
It’s an Army of Ant-Men!
Like any good superhero identity, the Ant-Man name has been used by more than one superhero in the years since its inception.
First inherited by way of theft by Scott Lang, the thief used the Ant-Man technology to save the life of his daughter Cassie. He later reforms and joins the Avengers full-time, with his daughter following his footsteps and taking on the identity of Stature in the Young Avengers. Although Scott is the Ant-Man in focus that we see in the movie, his origins and relationship with Hank Pym take a significant turn. Also, don’t expect to see Cassie suiting up as Stature anytime soon.
The third man to fill the normal/tiny-sized boots of Ant-Man was Eric O’Grady. Unlike Scott and Hank, Eric’s interests in being a superhero were somewhat less noble and was driven by his desire to be the centre of attention. Despite being a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent prior to becoming Ant-Man, Eric had little in the way of morals and ethics. Nevertheless, with great legacy there must come great responsibility, and Eric O’Grady died sacrificing himself in battle.
He is Still An Early Hero in the MCU
While the movie’s trailers have all pointed at Scott Lang being the Ant-Man using technology developed by Hank Pym, rumours indicate that Hank’s history with costumed heroism goes back a fair bit.
With Hayley Atwell and John Slattery confirmed to be resuming their roles as Agent Peggy Carter from Captain America and Agent Carter and Howard Stark from Iron Man 2 respectively, it can be assumed that a younger Hank Pym may have had some relations with S.H.I.E.L.D. in its early days.
With Pym having a prior relationship with Howard Stark (who seemed to have been a rather unlikable person in his later years) it’ll be interesting to see what he thinks of Tony Stark and the S.H.I.E.L.D.-monitored Avengers Initiative.
If these rumours prove right, it would also explain the absence of Janet van Dyne’s Wasp as the loss of his superhero wife would be just cause for retirement and subsequent estrangement from his daughter (who is credited as Hope van Dyne instead of Hope Pym).