Even before the movie opened to big numbers, we knew that Laurence Fishburne was playing Dr. Bill Foster, AKA Goliath (AKA Black Goliath, AKA Giant-Man). But who is this character and what is his story in the comics and how does it compare to the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Come with me, now, and let’s find out together in this wiki-esk article, with slightly more context, but less group-thought (and a lot more snarky comments in parenthesis).
In The Comics:
Dr. Foster is an African American biochemist and superhero with the power to grow to 15 feet and while lifting around ten tons. Later he raised the bar (ah!), and was able to grow to 25 feet. Throughout his career he has died, come back, lost his powers, got them back, got cancer, then lost it, given up his Superhero identity, and taken his mantle back, changed his name to something cooler, then went back to his old name cause it was the cooler name after all- All this and many more standard fare superhero tropes and adventures. He has been apart of the Avengers, The Defenders, and The Champions, he had his own short lived series in the mid-70’s, but has mainly appeared in various team books, crossover arcs, and Marvel specials.
His first appeared in 1966 for Avengers #32 as one of Marvel’s rare California bred characters, Dr. Foster is from Watts, Los Angeles. He worked for Tony Stark for a bit (who didn’t?!), then when Henry Pym got stuck at 10ft he was brought in to help fix him, and fix him he did. Even though Foster’s credentials stood on his own (DSc, PhD), he was technically Pym’s Lab assistant… this was the 60’s and 70’s after all.
Almost a decade later, Marvel decided to make him a hero. In Power Man #24 (1975)Dr. Foster moves back to Cali and uses a modified formula to give himself the ability to grow to 15 ft with super-strength. Taking the name “Black Goliath”, he got his own comic the following year for a whopping 5 issues.
He frequently battled along side The Thing, who suggested he take the name “Giant-Man”. And he does, than after literally outgrowing cancer, he gave up the name “Giant-Man” so Pym can have it back and takes the less racially profiling moniker of “Goliath”. Then in the most unexplained, unexplainable moment in his history, he loses his powers and gets them back. How? He fights the West Coast Avengers (yeah, yeah, yeah) and during the battle he allows the Kosmosians, aliens from another dimension, to attack Earth. In defeating the ridiculous Kosmosians he renders Pym particles inert to everyone by Henry Pym (of course). Ok, so that was kinda explainable, but how he got his powers back is literally unexplainable cause Marvel never thought to explain it.
He just did and returns as the racially charged, “Black Goliath” again. Foster changes his costume and goes back to just “Goliath” just in time to die (yeah, right) during the Civil War series by a clone of Thor, for Tony Stark’s pro-registration team. Stark pays for 38 burial plots as Dr.Foster is buried in his giant form.
Does that sound weird?! Cause it only gets weirder from here! Tom Foster, Bill Foster’s nephew and Black Panther work together to re-create the formula and tom becomes the new Goliath. Bill Foster’s bones make a quick appearance in the Dark Reign storyline, but it quickly discarded, literally. Then its discovered that Henry Pym stuck Bill’s consciousness in an VR world so they could chat and whatnot.
Not really spoilers… but maybe?! Nothing Story related at least, just character stuff.
In Ant-Man and the Wasp, Bill Foster is played by Laurence Fishburne. The set-up seems to similar, Pym and Foster worked together, but had a bad falling out, now their relationship is barley professional, rather strained, argumentative, and aggressive, unlike their friendship in the comics. In the film, Foster is still a brilliant scientist and professor, who tells Scott he reached 21ft, but it is never revealed if he used his powers outside of scientific endeavors or was a hero.