Welcome to VOCIFERY, my attempt to re-watch every piece of media in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – every movie, every television series, every one-shot, every web series, and every tie-in comic book, using the Wikipedia entry on the MCU as a guide, before the release of Avengers 4 in May 2019. Join me as I write my thoughts about what I’m seeing, as I see it!
Also, spoilers follow – if you’re worried about that kind of thing, view before reading.
Marvel’s Ant-Man Prelude tie-in comic (2015)
According to my calendar, we’re still almost two months away from watching Ant-Man, the 2015 film which closed off the second phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and introduced a handful of new characters to the universe, including Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd), Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas).
That last character was the most intriguing from a historical standpoint: comic readers will know that Dr Hank Pym is the Ant-Man – the original who first appeared in 1962, and was a founding member of the Avengers in 1963 alongside his wife Janet, aka The Wasp; by contrast, Scott Lang was introduced in 1979.
Prior to the film’s release, there was a lot of speculation about how Pym would fit in to the movie, especially as he was being played by the aging Douglas. It turned out that the MCU was playing with the timeline a little bit: Lang would take on the mantle of Ant-Man, while Douglas would play the aging Pym and inventor of the Pym Particle, which powers the Ant-Man suit.
The MCU version of Pym, it turned out, had been involved with SHIELD before starting his own company; the opening scene of the film features a de-aged Douglas playing alongside John Slattery’s Howard Stark and Hayley Atwell’s aged-up Peggy Carter as he quits the agency to protect the particle and keep his invention safe.
I mention all this because I can clearly remember the first time I saw the film, and being super-excited to find out that Pym was a bigger part of the universe than his supporting role would imply. It was a seminal moment for the film, one that added a level interest and excitement about the direction of the entire universe. It was, in a word, a highlight.
Now, if I had read the prelude comic book – which is set prior to that scene – ahead of the film, I would not have been surprised in the slightest.
In fact, it is likely that the scene would not have carried the same level of interest and excitement if I had essentially spoiled the film by reading the comic book. And it is here that I wonder if the comics might actually be detrimental to the films.
Reading it now, the comic book was a veritable tale to astonish – a short story set in the past, as Hank uses the Ant-Man suit on his first mission for S.H.I.E.L.D., befriending Peggy Carter in the process, and taking down one a Hydra research lab. The story is set far earlier than the opening scene of the film and establishes how Pym makes the friends that will get him involved in upper echelons of S.H.I.E.L.D.
But if I’d read it before the film, it might have impacted my enjoyment of that cold open with Hank, Peggy and Howard. No, I can say it with certainty, it absolutely would have impacted my enjoyment of the scene.
And so you have to wonder, in addition to questioning their value as a story-telling tool – which I’ve done multiple times – is it possible that, even if the stories are good, they might impact the films directly in a negative way?
It sure looks that way.
Next: Agent Carter: Season 1 Episode 06-08!