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Over the weekend, Josh Nizzi released some pretty incredible concept art from Marvel's Ant-Man. In addition to revealing an unexpected role for Arnim Zola, the art also gives us a glimpse of another key element that was dropped: Ant-Man's ant army!
The Ant Army We Almost Saw
Where the final film saw the ants working under Scott Lang's control, concept art shows that they were originally used in a far more creative way. No doubt using his shrinking tech, Hank Pym had purchased military-grade equipment, tailored it to ants, and then shrunk it down to size. As a result, the early concept art teases a remarkable ant army!
It's actually not an unreasonable idea. We know that, when you shrink due to Pym Particles, you lose your weight. That's why Hank Pym could carry this.
In 2014, researchers from the Ohio State University demonstrated that the neck joint of a common American field ant can withstand pressures up to 5,000 times greater than its own body weight. So it would actually be a pretty smart idea to equip Hank Pym's ant army with military technology.
In this fascinating image, the ant has been equipped with flamethrowers! Now, this is a little risky as an idea since you'd need to fire with a great deal of precision, otherwise you'd basically wipe out all your ant friends. While some ants can survive the hottest natural temperatures on Earth — the Sahara desert ant can endure short periods in temperatures up to 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Centigrade) — I'm pretty sure few would survive a flamethrower.
Ant-Man featured Scott Lang taking a few rides on a flying ant, but this concept art shows that the ride could be much more exciting. Painted a sleek hot red red, this metal unit basically gives the rider a perch to sit on. It could also serve as an extra layer of protective armor, cushioning the ant from minor impacts.
That said, riders should be very careful about what species of ant they're flying on, and what time of year it is. Some flying ants actually mate while airborne! In the UK, black garden flying ants typically mate in the summer in what's sometimes called Flying Ant Day. The urge to mate drives all the black garden ants into the air, where the virgin queens mate with the males in order to produce offspring. Given how powerful that reproductive urge seems to be, I'd recommend not being on the back of your flying ant at the time (especially if you're unfortunate enough to be seated on a queen).
Of course, given the #MCU is really a superhero sci-fi universe (albeit now with more than a dash of magic added), it's no surprise that this piece of concept art pictures an ant with a laser weapon on its back!
Even in the real world, espionage agencies are fascinated by the idea of putting recording equipment on animals. As one New Scientist article observed:
"The next time a moth lands on your window sill, watch what you say.
"It may look like an innocent visitor, irresistibly drawn to the light in your room, but it could actually be a spy - one of a new generation of cyborg insects with implants wired into their nerves to allow remote control of their movement.
"Be warned, flesh-and-blood bugs may soon live up to their name."
Of course, Hank Pym doesn't need to experiment with cybernetics. He can just shrink a full-sized spy system down, and attach it to an ant!
Probably a cheaper option is just to modify a microphone unit and attach it to the back of an ant. There's no hiding from Hank Pym!
Could we ever see Ant-Man's ant army?
It's no wonder S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra have both been fascinated by the Pym Particles, but they're missing a trick: Combine Pym Particles with the ability to control ants, and you can create a formidable army that can strike without warning. Even more incredibly, you could easily build the ultimate espionage tool, with ants slipping effortlessly into enemy buildings and recording everything they see and hear.
Personally, I think this concept art is absolutely gorgeous. I'm truly hoping that #Marvel will run with these ideas, giving us a glimpse of Ant-Man's ant army in 2018's Ant-Man and the Wasp.