Bug Blog

What A Professional Entomologist Thinks About The “Science” In The Ant-Man Movie

Movies are not known for depicting scientifically accurate events. Of course, there are numerous science fiction films that do not even try to depict scientifically plausible situations, but there also exists a few films that are concerned with scientific accuracy, such as the film called Gravity. This film attempted to depict with scientific accuracy how a human would get along within the vastness of space. While the film’s producers hired several scientific advisors in the field of astronomy in an effort to realistically depict space-flight, the movie still managed to attract criticism from professional astronomers concerning several scientifically questionable scenes. However, when it comes to movies, accurately depicting the physics that exist in space is one thing, but accurately depicting the nature of insects is quite another. While a scientifically accurate movie about space-travel could be entertaining, nobody wants to see spiders or insects in a movie unless they are of enormous size or are predatory killers of humans. However, according to Robert Conrow, a Drexel PhD student and teaching assistant, the recent Ant-Man movie starring Paul Rudd did manage to get a few things right about ants, wasps and other insects.

First of all, Conrow was pleased that the character of the wasp superhero was female, as the founder of all wasp colonies are queens that produce mostly female worker offspring. However, Conrow was disappointed to learn that the wasp character did not command a colony of her own wasp troops, as wasp queens dictate the behavior of their worker offspring. Similar to real life, the movie portrays the wasp as one of the most physically overpowering characters. For example, there is a scene in the film where the wasp knocks Ant-man unconscious with only a slight movement of her stinger, but later on, Ant-man regains consciousness to find himself unharmed. While wasps have no problem overpowering their prey, in real life, Ant-man would have woken up in a permanent mental stupor before eventually dying brutally in response to a wasp larva exploding out of his body. This would have been excessively violent and would have ruined the film, but if a wasp paralyzes or pacifies another insect, that insect may wake up, but not without a wasp larva growing progressively larger within its body. After emerging from the body of its prey, a developing wasp larval species proceeds to consume the remains of its prey as its first nutritious meal in life.

Have you ever seen a movie that you believe took care to portray insect or spider behaviors accurately?