I'm referring to this at 1:25:

As you see he is ant size and yet his punch is strong enough to knock the guy out.

It doesn't make sense that something so small can deliver so much force, how does the suit work to do that? I get that he should be stronger like an ant, but an ant still can't hurt a person with a punch because they are so small. They are just "relatively" strong. Like they can lift 6 times their own weight or something whereas a human can only do less.

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    From what I understand, he keeps his normal human strength while in ant form. Even a normal humans strength is considered superhuman when youre 1/8th the size of a fingernail. As for "how" this works? shrugs
    – Ryan Perry
    Jun 20, 2015 at 23:06
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    The same way ants are so strong when they are small? If an ant was scaled up to human size, it would be able to lift a house over its head. By ant standards, Ant Man is a wimp.
    – Wad Cheber
    Jun 21, 2015 at 0:02
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    Pym Particles!!! Jun 22, 2015 at 10:41
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    @WadCheber in reality an ant scaled up to the size of a human would be crushed under it's own weight and die because of the square/cube law.
    – KutuluMike
    Jul 23, 2015 at 12:43
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    And that's why this "ants scaled up" comparison is so deeply flawed. It's essentially meaningless. Jul 24, 2015 at 10:29

5 Answers 5


Pym Particles in the Marvel Universe decrease the space between atoms, but allow the user to keep the same density. This in turns allows the user to keep his same human strength at smaller size. The super strength comes from a smaller point of contact with the same strength, preventing the force from being spread out over a higher area (like a bullet hitting weak skin, vs a bullet hitting a flak jacket ceramic tile spreading the force over the body, or sitting on a bed of nails vs stepping on a lego block).

As such, Ant-Man keeps his strength without the mass behind it. Of course this is comic logic. It also has nothing to do with him being ANT man, that's a coincidence.

  • Of course, this hasn't been explained in the MCU yet. Pym Particles weren't even known until the Ant-man movie and related material (like the Ant-Man prelude comic) started coming out. This answer subjected to change once the movie hits.
    – user16696
    Jun 21, 2015 at 0:28
  • I thought it would be something about being the same mass but more dense; shifting the mass into another dimension sounds like it's more or less the same thing.
    – Aequitas
    Jun 21, 2015 at 6:46
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    Wouldn't a punch to the face from an object as small as Ant Mans fist be more like a bullet wound than a punch if your reasoning here is true? Jun 22, 2015 at 11:01
  • @drrdrizzle yes, that's literally how they figuratively explain it in the trailer at 1:20
    – user16696
    Jun 22, 2015 at 12:04
  • @cde So the name of 'ant' man is just a coincidence? I kinda feel terrible.
    – SoundStage
    Jun 22, 2015 at 12:10

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe Ant-man becomes superhumanly strong because of creative license, creative necessity and a liberal dose of handwavium. In the original Ant-man comics, Dr. Henry Pym created a serum infused with his patented "Pym Particles." These particles would shunt his mass into an extra-dimensional space allowing him to grow to the size of an insect.

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Hank Pym was created by Stan Lee, co-created and drawn by Jack Kirby, and scripted by Larry Lieber. He first appeared in "The Man In The Ant Hill!" in Tales To Astonish #27 (Jan. 1962).

In the canon Marvel Universe (Earth-616)

  • Contrary to most wiki entries, Dr. Henry Pym did not originally get superhuman strength of any kind. This lack of superhuman muscle plays strongly into his later development of a growth serum which would create his other superhuman persona, Giant-Man. His lack of physical capacity among the heavy hitters of the Avengers will underlie many of his creations and failures over the decades.
  • From the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: When active as Ant-Man or Yellowjacket, Pym "had the strength of a man of his age, height, and build who engages in intensive regular exercise". When shrank to insect size he still had the same strength.

  • As Giant Man or Goliath his strength varied depending on his height. When 10 feet tall Pym can lift about 0.5 ton. Greater heights give him enormous mass and strain his movement but can be used to give him boosts of strength. When 100 feet tall, Pym can lift almost 100+ tons. This is considered his maximum size and strength level.

As one of the original science heroes of the Silver Age of Comics:

  • Ant-man would have the power to reduce himself down to the size of an ant. He established this first with a serum infused with his patented "Pym Particles." Later he could change at will due to his constant infusion of the particles.

  • Creating his cybernetic helmet he would be able to communicate intelligently with ants thus giving himself an army of tiny helpers or tiny informants depending on his needs.

  • He would eventually genetically engineer his future wife Janet Van Dyne giving her the power to change her size and develop insect-like wings when she shrank. He also bio-engineered an energy blast capacity she called her "Wasp's Sting". Pym would also use a small electrical gun with a limited number of similar charges for a time but would abandon it shortly after.

  • Before he could fly, he would use a catapult to launch himself into the air before landing on a pillow of ants... He would later decide to figure out how to ride on the back of a winged ant named Korr for increased mobility, especially important once his wife started flying off to battle. The two of them would fight crime together until they got the call to find the Hulk. The two of them would help found the Avengers.

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In the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Earth-199999)

A superhuman without some degree of superhuman physical prowess is not something the Marvel Cinematic Universe wants to present. Using some strategically placed handwavium borrowed from the DC Universe, the Ant-Man exoskeleton will allow him to have the mass of a normal human in a body the size of an ant.

enter image description here

  • In the MCU, Ant-Man cannot only shrink to the size of an ant, because if he did, his powers would become only viable through the insects he manipulates, creating an interesting but ultimately feeble character otherwise. Not to mention the special effects budgets for creating ant swarms...

  • Marvel's solution is to borrow an idea from DC Comics character, the Atom, who also shrinks down to a smaller size but can control how much or how little mass he retains. This allows him to exert what appears to be incredible strength even in tiny size.

enter image description here

  • What the Atom does, using his belt and glove size-weight controls, he manipulates all of his normal mass and direct it into his fist. When he strikes someone, they get the equivalent of his 200 pounds in his tiny fist. It also retains his implied human size (the handwavium) so he can put his back into a blow as if he were a normal-sized man.

  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe Ant-Man uses a powered exoskeleton, which may be added to the handwavium as an explanation for him retaining superhuman ability despite his minute size.

  • Considering how many minor manipulations the Marvel Cinematic Universe makes in its transition of the canon comic universe, this is one of their relatively minor ones. This is an unfortunate perspective seeing how the comic version of the character in recent arcs has accepted this unarmed and lack of superpowers in stride, using creativity (and ants) as an acceptable way of presenting the character.

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  • I think the problem is the definition of superhuman strength. Him keeping his normal strength at ant size isn't super human per say.
    – user16696
    Jun 21, 2015 at 3:34
  • He never has superhuman strength in his tiny forms. He just keeps his normal strength. But it is difficult to explain this to people and no one goes to the movies to see superheroes who aren't super. Size-changing heroes are a difficult sell. Only because VFX have improved so much does the movie even have a chance to be remotely interesting. And the character would have never stood a chance being included in the ranks of the MCU Avengers. Jun 21, 2015 at 3:43
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    I always found it confusing how getting smaller didn't reduce his strength but getting bigger increased it. So if I understood this answer, basically, it's not the same stuff "used in reverse" to grow/shrink.
    – Clockwork
    Feb 26, 2021 at 0:45

It's because density can't change. He didn't just shrink his mass; they mentioned in the film that he only decreased the space between the molecules which means he's roughly the same density, which in other terms he's also as strong as he is in normal size, but since this strength is over a small area to exert itself, since his fist is about 1/100th of an inch, this means he's somewhat stronger then usual which means he's normal strength with what looks like "super strength."


I do not know how it is explained inside the universe, but I suppose it is handwavium as almost all superhero stories which do not make any sense in reality.

You are right, it does not work. Even if Ant-Man is extremely strong, he is almost completely harmless for a human because he could move his extremities only in the millimeter range which is fully in the range of human skin elasticity. If I stomp on him, he will be able to stop it and I recognize that something stopped my foot, but if he throws the foot up, the foot will be accelerated only a few millimeters which does not make any effect. He can crawl on me; if he punches, the skin gives way, so the best he can accomplish is a small bruise; he is not even able to get to the bones. Remember, too, that he needs a pivot: If he punches, he is accelerating himself, so he would also only propel himself away from the human. He may try to tear on the skin, but the skin is elastic enough to be stretched a few mm without harm. He may be able to pull hair out, but this is only painful, not incapaciting. The only real damage he could do would be inside the body (eardrum !).

It is also a wrong contention that ants are very strong. It is the good old Square-Cube Law in action: A human who shrinks loses weight much faster than strength, so an ant sized man would be in fact able to jump higher than a flea and kill any ant without problem.


I assumed it was like a black hole the smaller end of the black hole has less space between atoms making it denser the problem is when he turns to giant man he should still have the strength of his normal size cause his mass isn't changing just the space between atoms

  • Hi, I'm sorry but a legitimate answer requires supporting evidence from official sources and literature. Headcanon is not counted as a valid answer. This answer should be more appropriately posted as a comment. If you can't post comments, then you need to increase your rep by other means first. Thanks! May 8, 2016 at 10:13

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