As I continue the task of assembling the Avengers in a quixotic quest to identify the first Avenger, having covered Hulk and Thor, next up for bat are Ant-Man and Wasp. A case could be made based on the last page of The Avengers #1 that Ant-Man and Wasp should actually be co-credited as the first Avengers (with Iron Man, Thor, and Hulk taking the next three slots). It was their idea to found the team, and they also selected the team name, as the last four panels clearly show:
[Ant-Man:] Wait, before we separate, the Wasp and I have something to say! Each of us has a different power! If we combined forces, we could be almost unbeatable!
[Iron Man:] Work as a team? Why not? I’m for it!
[Thor:] There is much good we might do!
[Hulk:] I’m sick of bein’ hunted and hounded! I’d rather be with you than against you! So, whether you like it or not, I’m joinin’ the. . .the. . .hey! What are you callin’ yourselves?
[Uncredited off-panel word balloon:] That’s right! We need a name!
[Wasp:] It should be something colorful and dramatic, like. . .the Avengers, or. . .
[Ant-Man:] “Or” nothing! That’s it! The Avengers!
[Iron Man:] We’ll fight together! Or separately if need be!
[Hulk, in his best Mr. T voice:] I pity the guy who tries to beat us!
[Thor:] We’ll never be beaten! For we are. . .the Avengers!
Given Ant-Man and Wasp’s key role in founding the team, like many fans, I have been disappointed by indications that they don’t appear to be part of the Avengers movie. I’ve been trying to find a definitive statement about this for a while, and the best information I’ve been able to find comes from an April 15 Toronto Sun interview with Marvel Studios president of production Kevin Feige. Feige indicates that the decision to exclude Ant-Man and Wasp stemmed partly from the fact the Ant-Man movie is still in development (which I’m glad to hear) and partly from a conclusion that it wasn’t possible to introduce more characters into the movie.
One of the original Avengers in the 1960s comic books was Ant-Man, a character given to Edgar Wright (Shaun Of The Dead) to develop. . .
“Edgar’s still working on that project, and it’s closer than ever,” says Feige. “But it’s been eight years we’ve been working with him, and we finally decided we couldn’t keep putting more people in. If Ant-Man had come out four years ago, it would certainly have been part of the puzzle.”
Ant-Man and his girlfriend the Wasp remain on the drawing board as future Avengers characters.
That’s a fairly reasonable explanation, although the latter reason raises the question of why introducing Hawkeye and Black Widow was deemed a higher priority. I liked the way Ant-Man and Giant-Man were developed in the Ultimate Avengers animated movies and the recent cartoon The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, which handled the character in two very different ways. Either of those treatments would have made for a good movie, in my opinion.