The Marvel Cinematic Universe is expanding in a big way thanks to Ant-Man and the Wasp. Not only does the film finally put Evangeline Lilly’s Hope Van Dyne in costume and introduce her long-lost mother, Janet (played by Michelle Pfeiffer), but we also meet Dr. Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne), a brilliant scientist and future heir to the mantle of Giant-Man (in the comics anyway). As we learned in the trailers for the film, Foster worked with Hank Pym at one time on “the Goliath program”… though he never got quite as big as Ant-Man did!
Whether you call him Giant-Man, Goliath or Black Goliath, Bill Foster isn’t a character many causal Marvel fans may be aware of. With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about this new addition to the MCU.
Bill Foster is one of Marvel’s first major African American heroes, though he was a brilliant scientist long before donning a costume and harnessing the power of Pym Particles. Foster began his comic book career as a lab assistant to Hank Pym and has worked everywhere from the CDC to Project Pegasus.
Eventually, Foster struck out on his own, developed his own version of the Pym Particle formula and became the hero Black Goliath. He’s fought alongside Luke Cage, the Champions, the Thing and the Avengers, proving to be a valuable asset in battle right up until his tragic death in the events of Civil War.
Powers and Abilities
Using his own version of the Pym Particle formula, Foster gained the ability to increase his mass and grow to a height of up to 25 feet. His strength increases proportionately with his size, allowing him to lift several tons with ease. The only downside to this power is that size-changing leaves Foster exhausted the more he uses it.
Foster is also a brilliant scientist and biochemist and an intellectual equal to Hank Pym himself.
Origin and Background
Bill Foster was originally created by writer Stan Lee and artist Don Heck in the pages of 1966’s The Avengers #32, though it would be some time yet before he gained powers and adopted a costumed identity. At the time, he was portrayed as Hank Pym’s faithful lab assistant, tasked with helping Pym restore his own body to normal after becoming trapped in his oversized Giant-Man form.
It wasn’t until 1975 that writer Tony Isabella and artist George Tuska revamped the Bill Foster character in the pages of Power Man #24, where he made his debut as the size-changing hero Black Goliath (this being an unfortunate time in superhero comics where most African and African American heroes had the word “black” in their codenames). Black Goliath then spun out into his own short-lived solo series before becoming a recurring character in books like The Champions, Marvel Two-In-One and The Avengers.
During a team-up with The Thing, Foster was convinced to change his superhero name to Giant-Man, cementing his status as the heir to Hank Pym. He’d later revert to Black Goliath and finally just Goliath.
Foster played a major role in the 1988 crossover “The Evolutionary War.” At the time he made the questionable career move to work in the High Evolutionary’s Savage Land laboratory, though at least that enabled him to alert the West Coast Avengers to the villain’s plan to detonate a devastating “genetic bomb.” In the fallout of this story, Foster found himself suffering from cancer, forcing him to remain trapped in giant form until a cure could be found. This began a period in Foster’s career where he dealt with a waxing and waning of his growth abilities.
Bill Foster’s final appearance came in 2006’s Civil War, as he sided with Captain America’s underground, anti-registration faction of Avengers. Foster became the first major casualty of that war when he was killed by the cybernetic Thor clone Ragnarok. Unfortunately, he’s also proven to be one of the few superhero characters to die and actually stay dead. The good news is that his nephew, Tom Foster, has since taken up the Goliath mantle and carried on his uncle’s legacy.
Beyond the Comics
Bill Foster hasn’t enjoyed a great deal of attention outside of Marvel’s comics, though we suspect that’ll change after Ant-Man 2. The closest he’s gotten to a TV appearance so far is a role in a comic book tie-in to the animated series Avengers: United They Stand.
He has appeared in several Marvel video games in recent years, however. Goliath appears as a boss character in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 (voiced by Emerson Brooks), which was heavily inspired by the events of the Civil War comic. He’s also appeared as a playable character in Marvel Super Hero Squad Online and LEGO Marvel’s Avengers (voiced by James C. Mathis III).
You’ll have to go see Ant-Man and the Wasp to find out what form Laurence Fishburne’s Bill Foster will take — not to mention what size — but it seems a good bet that he’ll be a recurring presence in the MCU from here on out.