At one point during the fight in Captain America: Civil War Ant-Man increases his size instead of decreases.

I know that Ant-Man keeps his strength when he shrinks, hence relatively he becomes stronger. With the same logic, if he keeps his strength when he grows, he therefore becomes relatively weaker.

In Why is Ant Man so strong when he's small? for instance it is explained why he gets relatively stronger as he shrinks.

The question is, why he did't become relatively weaker as he grows?


2 Answers 2


This is a hold over from the comics:

It will likely be pseudo-science and/or hand-waved explained in the sequel "Ant-Man and the Wasp".

The comic logic is that Pym Particles allow you to change your size. When growing, they pull extra mass from another dimension. Pym, or in this case Scott, gains mass when growing, hence he has increased strength proportional to his size.

How this works in the movies is hard to say, as the movie shrinking is done by closing the distance between atoms without losing any mass. The opposite wouldn't exactly work as you explain it. If they simply increased the distance between atoms, Pym or Lang would atomize into a cloud of separate atoms. Bye bye Ant-Man. It would require increasing the distance AND changing the physics of the basic atomic forces that hold atoms together, making Giant-Man a god in that he would control the basic force of creation. So there must be a separate explanation beyond what has been explained before.

Maybe they will tie it into the Infinity War super-plot, and explain that Pym Particles come from studying an Infinity Stone, which would explain their physics changing power.


The Physics Consultant for Ant-Man, the highly credited Dr. Spiros Michalakis of Cal-Tech's Institute for Quantum Information and Matter, provides a somewhat real life explanation for both the shrinking and growing, by way of neutrino radiation to change the property of the atoms. For Shrinking, bombard the electrons of an atom, changing them into muons, a heavier version with the same chemical properties, the electron rings shrink 200 times in size, effectively lowering the size of the atom, and thus the size between atoms, without any change in mass. For growing, the radiation is used to change protons into neutrons and adding more protons to compensate.

The only mechanism I can think of right now, using the same Pym particles, would be to use neutrinos again, but of a longer wavelength that would make them transparent to electrons. The neutrinos could then travel all the way to the nucleus, colliding with protons to create neutrons plus positrons. The neutrons, lacking charge, would not be able to hold the electrons as close, thus increasing the size of the object. The positrons would fly out of the nucleus and collide with hydrogen atoms (which the suit would supply), thus producing protons (positron plus electron equals gamma rays which go out to space), which can be incorporated back into the enlarged atoms to provide the correct number of protons in the nucleus (since a bunch of them already transformed into neutrons). This process would continue until each atom in his body was converted into a stable heavy isotope of the original (same number of protons and electrons but a bunch more neutrons). Size (due to neutron shielding of electrons from protons) and mass (due to the fact that neutrons and protons are responsible for our mass) would go up. Voila."

Boom, increased size AND mass, hence Giant-Man's gianty-ness and strength. Some comic-physics properties of the Pym Particles would compensate for all the dangerous to Scott part (Radiation, energy requirements, etc).

Not that Pym Particles are completely safe, big or small:

In the first movie, "Ant-Man", Hank can no longer use the suit because of continuous damage to his mind over the years. It's also the reason he needs the full suit, to protect him from the Particles' side effects. Which Cross didn't compensate for in his fever to create the YellowJacket, and the Cross Particles (A poor Pym Particle rip-off) seem to have affected him, turning him into the super-hammy, irrational villain we see at the end. In "Civil War" Scott immediately prefaces his transformation, saying:

Ant-Man: I got something kind of big, but I can't hold it very long.

Ant-Man: On my signal, run like hell.

Ant-Man: And if I tear myself in half, don't come back for me.

Team-Cap Member: He's tearing himself in half?
Other Team-Cap Member: You're sure about this guy?

Ant-Man: I do it all the time.
I mean once...

... in a lab.

And I passed out.

  • 2
    That "somewhat real life explanation" is absolute baloney. The resultant structure would be unstable and radioactive beyond belief. Ant-Man no longer atomizes into a cloud of separate atoms: he turns into a miniature nuclear disaster, destroying himself and anyone unfortunate enough to be standing nearby! Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 2:52
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    Same could be said of Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wanda, Vision, Hulk, etc. Radiation based powers are common. We are talking about reverse engineering real solutions from comic ideas. That said, the consultant has a PhD @ApproachingDarknessFish. Have you read the interview with the actual explanation not my butchered one?
    – cde
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 4:07
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    Scott also did think he may die or get torn apart when he did it, so the in-universe safety issue was present.
    – cde
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 4:08
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    Wait ... if you replace electrons with "heavier" muons for shrinking, than the mass doesn't stay the same. - The process of enlarging also doesn't work: first you turn protons into neutrons, thus reducing the positive charge of the nucleus, which allows the electrons to move further away; but then you have put protons back into the nucleus to create a stable isotope, which would increase the positive charge of the nucleus to its original level, and therefore pulling the electrons closer again.
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 20:17
  • @oliver the Muons have a negligible mass difference compared to the protons and Neutrons. The shrinking mass may increase but not significantly. As to growing, take it up with the physicist.
    – cde
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 0:39

The truth is Marvel simply over looked the science.

The reason ant man is so strong while tiny is because the Pym particle can change the amount of space between atoms but not mass. This causes ant man to be extremely dense when he is small thus making him basically a bullet. But when he becomes big he would have extremely low density making him very weak. So, Marvel just overlooked this.

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