The Surprising Tokusatsu Influences of Ant-Man
Marvel's bug themed hero suit referenced two important Tokusatsu heroes... and they aren't the ones you expect.
The Marvel heroes are kind of one step away from being Power Rangers like heroes, right? They have costumes and a few more or less have transformation sequences (look at Iron Man, he may as well shout, ‘it’s iron time!’). For years fans of Power Rangers and by extension Tokusatsu (Japense special effects series that include the originator of Power Rangers, Super Sentai) have tried to draw connections between the two.
When the design for the MCU’s Ant-Man was first revealed many Tokusatsu fans instantly saw something they recongized. A bug like superhero? They’d be forgiven for thinking the seminal bug themed Kamen Rider series had some influence on the Ant-Man costume. Obviously the Ant-Man character has been around for awhile but especially the MCU movie design was reminiscent of more recent Kamen Rider series.
This was something bandied around for years but was often brushed off by hardcore MCU fans (and even fellow Toku fans). There’s no way any Toku series could have had any influence on Ant-Man. It was just coincidence… right?
In a twitter Fandango Q/A with Ant-Man director Peyton Reed, it was revealed that while Kamen Rider wasn’t an inspiration for Ant-Man, two other Toku franchises were!
According to Reed, “we referenced both Ultraman and Infra-Man” when discussing Ant-Man’s suit. Most geeks know that Ultraman is another Japense superhero series, debuting in 1966. It features a hero who can grow to giant size and fight off various monsters. Inframan however is a bit more of a deep cut. Released in 1975, the Inframan film is basically a Hong Kong take on Tokusatsu heroes. Basically, think Kamen Rider and Ultraman with way more intense and zany action.
further reading: The Complete History of Ultraman
To know that any Tokusatsu had a small impact on an MCU movie is beyond delightful for Toku fans. It’s also great to know that Ant-Man drew influences from such a large part of the superhero genre outside of America. And come on, when Ant-Man grew giant in Ant-Man and the Wasp? We all should have spotted the Ultraman influence there.
Shamus Kelley is a pop culture/television writer and official Power Rangers expert. Follow him on Twitter! Read more articles by him here!