What the heck is 'Ant-Man'?

Unless you're a comic fan, the character may sound like a joke and not an upcoming film from the people who made 'The Avengers' and 'Iron Man.' And they shouldn't be ashamed to feel that way. Ant-Man is one of the weirdest superheroes in the Marvel superhero universe and the fact that Disney and Marvel Studios are devoting an entire movie to him is just plain insane ... and just plain awesome. Because while Ant-Man may be unknown to many audiences, everything we've heard about this film so far tickles our geek fancies something fierce.

If you're not excited yet (or just want a reminder of why you're excited), here's everything we know about 'Ant-Man' so far, represented in the form of nine very important questions.

  • Who is This Ant-Man Guy, Anyway?

    One of the Marvel universe's oldest heroes, Ant-Man was created in 'Tales to Astonish #27' in 1962, but he didn't become a costumed superhero until issue #35. In his original incarnation, Ant-Man was Hank Pym, a scientist who develops technology that allows him to manipulate his size, allowing him to shrink and grow as he sees necessary (he could also communicate with ants, but that's been pretty much dropped in this day and age). Although Pym has been a mainstay in the Marvel comics for over 50 years, he is best known for creating the villainous robot Ultron and an infamous storyline where his marriage to Janet van Dyne (AKA, the Wasp) falls apart. Currently, Pym has taken on a new identity as Giant Man and Scott Lang wears the Ant-Man outfit.

    Despite his history, Ant-Man is as open to cinematic reinterpretation as any Marvel hero so far.

  • There Are Two Ant-Men?!

    If you want to get technical, there have been three Ant-Men, with Ed O'Grady putting on the costume after Hank Pym and Scott Lang. However, we know that the film will feature Pym and Lang, with the former being an old, retired hero and the latter taking up the mantle. And by "taking up the mantle," we assume that the cinematic Lang will follow the basic storyline of his comic book counterpart and steal Pym's shrinking technology to pull off a heist to save his dying daughter (only to find himself thrust into action heroics, of course). The idea of a young hero taking on the name and powers of an older hero is not a new concept in the world of comics, but it is definitely new in the Marvel cinematic universe and should make for some interesting drama.

  • Who is Starring in 'Ant-Man'?

    After countless denials, Paul Rudd was officially announced to be playing the lead role in 'Ant-Man' a few weeks ago. At the time, we didn't know which version of the character he would be playing, but we now know that he'll be taking on Scott Lang. We know this because the legendary Michael Douglas will be lending his gravitas to Hank Pym, instantly making this one of the most creatively cast superhero movies in a long while. Douglas is a living legend and Rudd is a talented comedic actor who's been on the verge of superstardom for some time -- this could be what makes him into a true leading man.

    UPDATE: We also know that Evangeline Lilly of 'The Hobbit' and 'LOST' fame will portray Hope van Dyne/Wasp and Corey Stoll of 'The Strain' and 'House of Cards' will play Darren Cross/Yellowjacket. In addition, Bobby Cannavale (‘Annie,’ ‘Boardwalk Empire‘), Michael Peña (‘End of Watch‘), Abby Ryder Fortson (‘Togetherness’), Judy Greer (‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,’ ‘Archer‘), David Dastmalchian (‘Prisoners’), Wood Harris (‘The Wire’), John Slattery (‘Mad Men‘), Gregg Turkington (‘The Comedy,’ ‘On Cinema’) and rapper T.I. (also known for roles in ‘American Gangster’ and ‘Takers’) have all been added in supporting roles.

  • What is 'Ant-Man' About?

    UPDATE: Marvel revealed the following plot synopsis to accompany the announcement of production:

    "Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world."

    Edgar Wright was attached to the 'Ant-Man' movie for a long, long time before he eventually dropped out (since before the Marvel movie universe was even a thing!) and in a 2006 interview, he mentioned that his script was essentially a heist movie that dealt with several generations of Ant-Men. This take seems to still be in play, confirmed by the casting of the older Douglas and the young Rudd. Exact details are still hush-hush, but a quickly changed Variety headline described Douglas as the "villain" of the movie, which is either mistake or a huge, massive spoiler ... and believe us, it wouldn't take much to make the conflicted, damaged Hank Pym into a bad guy.

    In other news, Wright tweeted a still from the animated 'Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes' episode "To Steal an Ant-Man' with the caption "homework," which implies that yes, the film will definitely deal with Lang's original comic origin and that yes, it is still very much a heist movie.

  • Why Are People Already So Excited For the Movie?

    The answer to the question posed above can be answered with one name: Edgar Wright. Ant-Man may not be a well known, marketable or even particularly beloved superhero (to be fair, Iron Man wasn't any of those a decade ago), but Wright is one of the most respected filmmakers working today, with films like 'Shaun of the Dead,' 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World' and 'The World's End' under his belt. Mainstream audiences will still have to be sold on this utterly bizarre superhero, but every cinephile in the world pre-bought a ticket when Wright's involvement as director and co-writer became 100% official.

  • Peyton Reed Has Stepped in to Direct

    In news that rocked the internet and left Marvel and movie fans questioning everything they love and cherish, Edgar Wright suddenly departed 'Ant-Man' after changes were made to his screenplay.

    The search a replacement was ugly and public and no one came out looking good, but at least they've found an interesting choice in Peyton Reed. Although he has his fair share of stinkers under his belt ('Yes Man,' anyone?) Reed is actually a fairly inspired choice. His past work has showcased a pop sensibility that would work wonders with a character like Ant-Man. With films like 'Bring It On,' 'The Break-Up' and 'Down With Love,' Reed has showcased a range and command of tone that most hired hand directors don't. With 'Anchorman' maestro Adam McKay rewriting the screenplay, there is some silver lining to Wright's departure.

    Trivia time! Reed was a longtime frontrunner for a 'Fantastic Four' movie and his pitch involved setting it in the '60s. We like this guy.

    Getty Images/Marvel
  • And the Bad Guys Are...

    UPDATE: While Patrick Wilson was originally cast in 'Ant-Man' in a villainous role, he dropped out amid script changes, and now Corey Stoll's Darren Cross will be the main antagonist. You don't cast an actor that good without getting something great in return.

    Darren Cross is the head of Cross Technological Enterprises and a longtime foe of Ant-Man in the Marvel comic book world. Although depicted as a massive, Hulk-like baddie on the page, this version of Cross will wear a suit similar to our hero, have similar powers, and eventually become the villain known as Yellowjacket, which was actually an alternate identity of Ant-Man himself in the comics.

  • But What Would an Ant-Man Action Scene Look Like?

    Although 'Ant-Man' hasn't even started filming, Wright shot some test footage film a few years ago and premiered the minute-long sequence to an enthusiastic crowd at Comic-Con in 2012. Ant-Man's powers have always been a little nebulous and odd, but the scene (which still isn't available in an official capacity but can be found everywhere) showcases Wright's vision of him as an action hero. As you can see for yourself in the video, Ant-Man uses his constant size manipulation to outsmart and out-fight his opponents in some odd and surprising ways. If this is just a quick test, we can't wait to see what the final fight scenes will look like.

  • Is Ant-Man One of the Avengers?

    He may not be a headlining comic book superstar these days, but Ant-Man will always have one thing going for him: he was among the original line-up of the Avengers. In fact, he was directly responsible for the creation of Ultron, one of the team's greatest foes! Although Ant-Man isn't behind the creation of that particular villain in the movie universe (where he'll be played by James Spader in 'The Avengers: Age of Ultron'), he is kickstarting Marvel Studios' "Phase 3," which will ultimately lead to a third 'Avengers' movie in 2018. This may be base speculation, but we bet that Paul Rudd's Ant-Man will join that superhero line-up when the time comes.

  • When and Where is it Filming?

    The original plan was for 'Ant-Man' to film in England at the legendary Pinewood Studios (home to several previous Marvel film shoots), but those plans fell apart when the production couldn't secure space in time. Instead, 'Ant-Man' will be the first film to shoot at the new Pinewood Studios in Atlanta, Georgia.

    The film is knee-deep in pre-production and gearing up for an April, 2014 shoot.

    Edgar Wright, Twitter
  • When Does 'Ant-Man' Hit Theaters?

    Originally scheduled for November 6, 2015, the film's release date was officially pushed up to July 31, 2015, putting it smack-dab in the middle of one of the biggest summers in movie history. 'Ant-Man' has the potential to get lost a month as jam-packed as that one, but it has one major ally in the fight: 'The Avengers: Age of Ultron,' which opens a few months earlier and will surely give millions of moviegoers a proper tease of what's to come.