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Goliath - A Brief History of Ant-Man and the Wasp's (Potential) New Marvel Hero

The brand-new trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp debuted today and it featured the first appearance of Laurence Fishburne as Bill Foster. We don't know exactly how he will connect to the main story of the film, however, due to the fact that Bill is clearly an old colleague of Michael Douglas' Hank Pym and that they specifically name-checked a "Goliath" project, it seems inevitable. Fishburne's character even mentioned that he grew to 21 feet at one point, so the odds are Bill Foster will become Goliath at some point in the film.

In the comic books, Bill Foster was introduced as Hank Pym's scientist colleague, before becoming a superhero in his own right. First as Black Goliath, then as Giant-Man and finally once again as Goliath, before his superhero career had a tragic conclusion.

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It may seem practically prosaic now, but in 1966, when Stan Lee and Don Heck introduced Bill Foster as a new assistant for Hank Pym in Avengers #32, it was a rather big deal. At the time, Marvel had so few African-American characters that when people would write in to Stan Lee to complain about the lack of African-American characters, Marvel would reply by pointing out one-off supporting characters, like the black phsyicist, Al Harper, who sacrificed his life in Silver Surfer #5. That's how few African-American characters that Marvel had -- and that was in 1968! When Bill Foster made his debut, there had been less than five African-American characters regularly appearing in Marvel Comics.

Of course, Bill's introduction was mostly an excuse to introduce the Sons of the Serpent, Marvel's most notable racist organization (the Marvel equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan). They ended up attacking Bill in the issue, leading to the Avengers taking the group on...

Bill then settled into the comics as Hank's assistant, and appeared a few more times throughout the 1960s in that capacity...

However, his connection to Hank meant that when Hank and Jan were written out of the Avengers in early 1970, that meant that Bill went into comic book limbo, as well...

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In the early 1970s, Marvel wanted to expand their African-American superheroes in an era when "blaxsploitation" films were popular at the box office. Their most famous hero created during this period was, of course, Luke Cage, but a few years later, in 1976, they dusted Bill Foster off and introduced him as the star of his own series, Black Goliath, where he now used Hank Pym's Pym Particles (not yet actually called that, of course) to become a superhero in his own right...

Tony Isabella (co-reator of DC's Black Lightning) was the original writer, but Chris Claremont was writing the book at the end of its run. His series came out at a bad time, as paper shortages made it difficult for Marvel to keep their lower-selling books going too long, so Black Goliath only lasted five issues.

Since the set-up for the series was that Bill Foster moved to Los Angeles to represent Tony Stark there (and become a new hero on the West Coast), it made sense for him to meet up with the other West Coast heroes of the era, the Champions, which he did in Champions #11 (by Bill Mantlo and John Byrne)...

He became their resident technological expert. That series, though, was not long for the world, either.

He later ended up at Project: Pegasus, the secret scientific research lab where the Thing worked for them, doing security work...

The next issue, he revealed his secret identity to the Thing and the Thing told him he should just call himself Giant-Man and the name stuck for a number of years...

After being Giant-Man for most of the 1980s (and into the 1990s), Bill eventually retired and Hank Pym took the name back. Bill then lost his size-changing abilities for a few years before getting them back somehow and now going by the name Goliath (with no "Black" intro).

During Civil War, Bill was one of the heroes who decided to defy the government and side with Captain America and become sort of Secret Avengers. Goliath was one of the key members of Cap's team, but tragically, in a fight against a clone of Thor that Reed Richards, Tony Stark and Hank Pym had created, the Thor clone killed Goliath!

In the years since, Bill's nephew has taken up the Goliath name as part of Damage Control. Bill has a strong superhero legacy, so it will be interesting to see if he suits up in Ant-Man and the Wasp.

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