What I love about the current direction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that they're slowly taking relatively unknown superheroes (at least, unknown to non-comic book readers) and making them household names. And they're doing it the right way - by treating their characters right. The reason why people fall in love with these characters in the first place is because of who they've been built up to be over the years in thousands of pages of comic books. Marvel Studios takes that and transforms it into something magical for the silver screen. I mean, no comic book reader would've ever imagined that Rocket Raccoon would be as famous as he is now.
Ant-Man's announcement came in as a pleasant surprise for those who knew how awesome Ant-Man's character can be. Comic book fans were all "OH MY GAWD Is it Pym?! Please let it be Pym! Let him join the Avengers in the third movie! OH ULTRON! HE CAN CREATE ULTRON! Oooh! Ooh! I hope Scott Lang makes an appearance!"
Non-readers said "Great new Marvel movie! Wait... who is Ant-Man?"
For the benefit of the non-reader, here's what you have to know about Ant-Man before the movie hits theaters this July, 2015.
Who is Ant-Man?
Ant-Man is a code name that has been used by more than one person. In current Marvel continuity, the Ant-Man persona has been used mainly by three people. You have Henry "Hank" Pym, Scott Lang, and Eric O'Grady.
The one thing that binds those men together, and legitimizes their use of the name Ant-Man, is their ability to shrink down o the size of an ant with the use of Pym Particles.
Hank is the most important Ant-Man to date. Hank was the one who discovered and developed Pym Particles, the subatomic particle that lets him manipulate his size, thus making him the first Ant-Man. He is also a founding member of the Avengers, part of the original 5 who discovered Captain America and thawed him out. He has saved the universe time and time again. But all of those achievements don't make him the best Ant-Man. What makes him the best Ant-Man is that he is also the most flawed.
Hank Pym's super powers are really just a fantastic analogy for Hank Pym the character. As heroic as he is, he has made mistakes time and time again. And on top of all those mistakes, he has a healthy inferiority complex, which complicates everything that much more. Hank Pym has done some deplorable things. While his intentions have always been good (well, more or less), his means may not have always been the most ethical. Regardless of all the times he falls, though, Pym always keeps picking himself up in his never-ending quest to redeem himself.
Hank's been calling many things - Ant-Man, Goliath, Giant-Man, Yellowjacket, and he even adopted the code name of his ex-wife, Wasp. Regardless of what name he goes by, one thing's for sure - Hank Pym will always be Earth's Scientist Supreme.
The second Ant-Man, and the main one in the MCU, is Scott Lang. Just like Hank Pym, Scott Lang is a man of good intentions but burdened with a horrible decision-making process. Scott is smart, too. Just not Pym smart. Scott is a brilliant electrical engineer, but fell on hard times and had to resort to burglary just to support his family. When he was caught, he spent 3 years in jail but got out on good behavior. Tony Stark, realizing Scott's talent, gave him a job. But old habits are hard to break. When his daughter, Cassie, fell ill, Scott broke into Pym's home and stole the Ant-Man suit, along with a few canisters of Pym Particles.
Lang wanted to return the suit after healing Cassie, but Pym knew about Scott Lang's plan all along and offered the suit to Lang as long as he would use it for good. And with that, Scott Lang becomes the second Ant-Man. From what I've seen in the trailers, the movie is likely to follow suit.
In the pages of the Avengers, Scott Lang is killed when a guy named Jack of Hearts blew himself up at the mansion. It is believed that the Jack of Hearts that killed Scott Lang wasn't actually the Jack of Hearts, but rather something Scarlet Witch cooked up. Eventually, Scott comes back to life thanks to the same person who may have murdered him by bringing him and Cassie back to the present after traveling through time. Not everything would be fine and dandy, though, as Cassie would eventually meet her demise.
Eric O'Grady is the one Ant-Man with the loosest moral compass. As one of the titles he starred in says, he is the irredeemable Ant-Man. Eric got the suit by stealing it from SHIELD. He used the suit to peep on ladies (Danvers being one of them) and to gain that superhero cred to mack on some chicks. Eric's actually more of a villain than an anti-hero, but he still does right by the people in his life.
Eric hasn't really done much as Ant-Man. He was part of the Initiative, Osborn's Thunderbolts, and the Secret Avengers. As a Secret Avenger, he was killed and replaced with an LMD, going by the name of Black Ant.
What are Ant-Man's Powers?
Ant-Man, all of them, can decrease in size but keep his strength. Pym could do it at will after being exposed to Pym Particles for so long. Lang and O'Grady needed the suit. The three of them all could increase their size and shape, and gain strength and durability along with the shape change. At 99.9% of original body mass, Ant-Man can enter what is known as the Microverse, a universe within our own, embedded within the subatomic world.
All Ant-Man suits have a way to communicate with ants and other insects, which they've used as great allies.
Pym, along with the size-shifting, is also a genius, able to create the wackiest science things. Lang, while not as smart, has some science smarts under his belt, as well.
Well, that's pretty much all you need to know about who Ant-Man is to have a little context when the movie comes out this July, 2015!