Hank Pym is one of Marvel Comics‘ most famous, or perhaps infamous, characters. He debuted in the Silver Age of comic books and became one of the founding members of the Avengers. Mainstream audiences might know him mainly thanks to Michael Douglas’ portrayal in the MCU, but there’s much more to him than that. Indeed, his comic book history is rich and far too complicated.
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The character has gone through peaks and valleys over the years, and his reputation has suffered considerably. Still, he remains one of Marvel’s most fascinating and complex creations and one of the most influential figures in the Marvel universe.
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Hank Pym’s First Wife Was Murdered
Born in Nebraska, Henry “Hank” Pym exhibited his intelligence from a young age. He showed a penchant for inventing things, eventually becoming a leading authority in the fields of entomology, biochemistry, robotics, engineering, and physics, eventually becoming one of the most intelligent figures in the Marvel universe.
Hank met his first wife, Maria Trovaya, a Hungarian political dissident, shortly after college. The two traveled to her native Hungary, believing her new American citizenship would protect her. However, brutal police officers killed her shortly after their arrival, inspiring him to find a way to fight injustice.
Hank Pym Created Ultron
Mainstream audiences recognize Ultron as the primary antagonist from the second Avengers movie, appropriately titled Age of Ultron. In the movie, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner create Ultron using Stark’s AI, JARVIS, and the Mind Stone, but the robot comes to life courtesy of Hank Pym in the comics.
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Hank creates Ultron during a volatile period in his life, becoming vulnerable to the robot’s manipulations once it gains sentience. Ultron eventually becomes one of the Avengers’ greatest foes, and Pym carries considerable guilt throughout the rest of his life, especially considering he used his own brain patterns as the basis for Ultron’s mind.
Hank Pym Was The First Yellowjacket
Shortly after Ultron’s creations, plagued by guilt and suffering from severe mental issues and anxiety stemming from his unconfessed love for Janet Van Dyne, Hank accidentally breaks several chemical vials. Exposure to the chemicals triggers a change in his psyche, leading him to adopt the identity of Yellowjacket.
As Yellowjacket, he claims to have killed the real Henry Pym, kidnaps Van Dyne, and proposes to her. Realizing the truth, she plays along, and the two get married in Avengers Mansion, to the shock of their teammates. Ringmaster and the Circus of Crime attack the wedding and almost kill Janet, snapping Hank back to normalcy. After their victory, Hank and Janet decided to stay married.
Hank Pym Struggled With Mental Illness
Hank and Janet are one of the best relationships in Avengers comics. At their prime, the two acted as the team’s emotional center, completing each other almost perfectly. Still, Hank struggled with mental illness for much of his life, constantly dealing with periods of depression, anxiety, self-doubt, and hysteria exacerbated by his use of the Pym Particles.
Although Janet helped him stay focused and calm for years, Hanks’s issues always found a way to return. Eventually, his marriage to Janet begins to crumble after Hank enters a period of deep depression following several incidents, including the creation of Ultron and his failure to make another scientific discovery as meaningful as the Pym Particles. His fragile state of mind gets the best of him, and following a particularly jarring incident, Janet divorces him.
Hank Pym Retired From Superhero Life
Following his separation from Janet, Hank enters a particularly dark period of his life. He gets manipulated into stealing adamantium and learns that Janet has begun a relationship with another genius superhero, Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man.
After a harrowing trial for the adamantium theft, Hank decides he no longer wants to lead a hero’s life and returns to his scientific research. Still wanting to help the Avengers somehow, he offers to become manager of the Avengers Compound while acting as an advisor to the West Coast Avengers. During this time, he becomes known as Dr. Pym, the Scientific Adventurer.
Hank Pym Adopted Multiple Identities
As previously mentioned, Hank adopts many identities during his comic book history. His initial alter-ego is Ant-Man but goes by Giant-Man whenever he grows in size. Once he becomes able to grow and shrink at will because of prolonged exposure to the Pym Particles, he adopts the Goliath identity, donning a new costume. Hank then becomes Yellowjacket briefly, before adopting the Scientific Adventurer moniker. Finally, he adopts the Wasp name after Janet’s death as a way to honor her.
Hank’s many identities usually come with a new costume and a distinctive change in attitude. Interestingly, while he’s most often associated with the Ant-Man persona, he spends considerable time in each new identity, even Yellowjacket.
Hank Pym Was Part Of Multiple Avengers Teams
As one of the first members of the Avengers, Hank holds a place of honor in the team’s history. He stays with them for a considerable time before his expulsion following the domestic abuse incident (more on that later).
After his redemption, Hank returns to the Avengers while serving as an advisor to the West Coast branch. Following the Secret Invasion, Hank, now going by Wasp, forms and eventually leads the Mighty Avengers. Hank also forms the Avengers Academy to house and potentially cure the young superhumans experimented on by Norman Osborn.
Hank Pym Supported The Superhuman Registration Act
The Civil War was one of the most important events in the Marvel timeline. It effectively broke the Avengers up, bringing out old rivalries and glaring flaws that had been thus far ignored. The storyline explored themes of authority and abuse of power, taking the Marvel universe into darker territory.
During the event, Hank supported the Superhuman Registration Act, claiming the law would be the best thing for everyone in the long run. In reality, Hank’s actions were part of a complex conspiracy years in the making, which would eventually culminate during another of Marvel’s crucial events, the Secret Invasion.
Hank Pym Physically Abused His Wife
As one of the founding members of the Avengers, Hank occupied a privileged place in the overall Marvel universe for years. His reputation suffered a bit after the Ultron incident, but he remained one of the most intelligent and respected figures nonetheless.
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However, things changed during the 1980s, when he suffered a mental breakdown and concocted a plot to attack the Avengers. Janet discovered him and begged him to stop, but he refused and struck her. The moment forever changed the way readers saw Hank. Consequences were swift within the Marvel universe, with Janet divorcing him and the Avengers expelling him. Writers would work hard to rehabilitate Hank’s reputation following the incident, but they never quite succeeded.
Hank Pym Was A Skrull During The Secret Invasion
The Secret Invasion was one of the most pivotal moments in the Marvel Universe. Heroes didn’t know who to trust, making for an incredibly compelling storyline that redefined the Marvel era of the 2000s. During this troubled time, Hank Pym was revealed to be a Skrull who replaced the real Pym at some point before the Civil War.
The superhero Crusader subdues the Skrull Hank, effectively taking him out of the equation. The Avengers later find the real Hank inside a Skrull ship, along with the other supplanted heroes. It’s unclear how big a part Hank will play in the upcoming Secret Invasion Disney+ show, but the character had a memorable albeit brief participation in the comic book.
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About The Author David Caballero (802 Articles Published)
David is a twenty-eight-year-old Mexican writer and reader. Having studied Marketing in school, he spent three years working a nine-to-five desk job before deciding to pursue a writing career. He now works as a Senior Writer in ScreenRant and does some more freelancing job, talking about the entertainment business he so loves. Currently, he’s also writing his second novel while actively working to get his first one published.