Aaron R. Davis
Just before Comic-Con, Evangeline Lilly said to the media that she’s not playing the Wasp in next year’s Ant-Man. She made it sound like she wasn’t even in the movie and had no idea where people were getting these rumors from.
Then she appeared at the Ant-Man panel and it was confirmed she was playing Hope Van Dyne.
And fans, being fans, got all fannish about it.
Yes, every online genre news outlet got about mourning that we will never, ever see the Wasp in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that this ruined everything, and there was no joy to be had anymore, and we might as well crash into the sun because what’s the point of even being alive now.
But my question: do you really think Hope Van Dyne isn’t going to end up being the Wasp?
Look, there’s a pretty simple and obvious process here, and it goes like this:
Step one: Marvel decides to finally make that movie about Ant-Man they’ve been thinking about since even before Iron Man came out. Now, there have been a couple of guys who have been Ant-Man in the comics: Hank Pym and Scott Lang. Hank Pym has been stained by a couple of incidents in the comics, and since Marvel doesn’t want everyone talking about how the MCU’s newest hero is a wife-beater, they make the pretty easy decision to use Scott Lang. Besides, Scott’s a troublemaker and seems more fun, anyway.
Step two: Marvel decides to put Hank Pym, the creator of the Ant-Man’s shrinking abilities (Pym particles, etc.), into the movie as an older man, a mentor figure who can send Scott Lang off to do whatever the Ant-Man is needed to do. (In the movie, Michael Douglas is playing Pym to Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang.)
Step three: What to do about Janet Van Dyne? She was the Wasp, she was Ant-Man’s partner, and Hank and Jan are one of the oldest couples in the Marvel Universe. And besides, Scott Lang needs a love interest, right? Hey, why not that well-worn trope about the scientist who has a beautiful daughter? Why not make her Hank Pym’s daughter, giving Scott another reason to be invested in whatever Hank’s got going on?
Now, here’s where things get either nerd outrage-inducing or bleeding obvious, depending on which kind of fan you are.
Marvel has to make some kind of decision on this female lead, and they’re trapped, because fans are going to shit themselves all over the Internet no matter which choice they make. If they pair Scott Lang with Janet Van Dyne, fans will freak out. So the lead can’t be Jan; that’s too much. So they have to pick another character, and they end up pulling Hope Pym out of one of Marvel Comics’ alternate universes. And hey, in that alternate universe, she’s Hank and Jan’s daughter, so let’s make her Hank’s daughter in the movie. That works out. Fans are going to get the way they do, anyway, but they have to make some kind of decision here, and maybe the inevitable tailspin of operatic nerd sorrow will be somewhat lessened.
Turns out no. I’ve seen a dozen or so little editorials this week about how this ruins everything and we’ll never see the Wasp and all of that stuff. Once again, Marvel seems to have forgotten the fans’ innate ability to see concept art or hear a plot description or even a character’s name and decide that they already know every single thing that will happen in a film and how they feel about it.
But, seriously, you think Hope Van Dyne isn’t going to end up being the Wasp, anyway?
Okay, so apparently in this movie, Janet, Hope’s mother, died in a lab accident. So, I’m guessing she died testing the Pym particles or whatever and that’s why Hank never became Ant-Man and Hope ends up following in her mother’s footsteps at some point in the movie because Scott needs help or something pretty close to that. I mean, jeez, in that alternate universe, Hope was a superhero called Red Queen who was basically a future version of the Wasp.
And does no one remember anymore that that was basically how Jan became the Wasp in the first place? Her father was a scientist that Hank Pym couldn’t help. He accidentally called an interdimensional criminal to Earth, and Jan became the Wasp to fight alongside Ant-Man and avenge her father’s death. Considering the way every other film in the MCU has gone out of its way to specifically pull out elements from the earliest origins of the comics, I wouldn’t be surprised if they call back to that one. Minus the interdimensional criminal, I imagine, but who the hell knows?
Either way, they probably aren’t talking about the Wasp right now because they want it to be a surprise. This is one of the most interesting things to me about the MCU: the way they let the fan speculation run rampant without really catering to anybody. The Marvel films aren’t desperate for the audience to like them; they figure that just making them really fun is enough.
And as far as I’m concerned, they’re right. I don’t care if they cater to continuity or pander to the fanboy in me. I just want to see fun movies. And Ant-Man is coming out on my birthday next year, so I hope they do a really great job on this one.
Stop immolating yourselves in despair with every announcement, nerds. Just have a little patience and see how things turn out. Yet again, you’ve skipped the part where being a fan makes you enthusiastic and gone right to entitled.
Myself, I’ll just be over here actually enjoying things like a fan.
And if you really want to get worked up over women getting sidelined in the Marvel Universe, can someone please ask Keven Feige if they’re ever going to bring back Liv Tyler’s Betty Ross?
Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org