[WARNING: This post contains SPOILERS for Ant-Man]
Though Ant-Man is primarily concerned with introducing audiences to Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) – set up to become the littlest Avenger – it’s also tasked with laying down a foundation for things to come in Marvel’s shared movie universe. The gears of the machine are always turning, and everyone wants to know what’s next. It’s for that reason that Marvel Studios has turned to mid/post credits scenes to tease their future plans.
Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man is no different, as its closing buttons provide plenty of groundwork for the shape of the MCU going forward [read our Ant-Man End Credits and Captain America 3 Explained post]. By the end of the film, Scott is promised a partner in heroics, soon to be joined in costume by Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), who is all but set to take up the mantle of the Wasp and follow her mother’s footsteps.
The scene in question will excite longtime comics readers, but may leave casual audiences confused. Read on for our explanation of Wasp’s past and future in the MCU.
The Movie Wasp
In Ant-Man, it’s established that Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his wife Janet were once agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., operating in the field as Ant-Man and Wasp. The duo’s suits were powered by Hank’s revolutionary “Pym particles,” which allowed them to shift in size in order to complete their missions. In an effort to stop a Russian ICBM, Janet sacrificed herself, falling into the quantum realm after she overrode her suit’s safety features and shrunk to subatomic size. As a result, Hank was left a broken man and shelved all of his Pym particle research, before it was uncovered by Darren Cross (Corey Stoll).
During the mid-credits scene, Hank reveals to Hope that he and Janet had been developing a new Wasp suit prototype, saying with a smile that he realizes they were making it for their daughter. Just as “Ant-Man” is a title to be passed on, the time has come for there to be a new Wasp fighting with Earth’s Mightiest. And since Hope always displayed an eagerness to don the Ant-Man costume and perform Scott’s heist herself, she’s clearly willing to accept her father’s offer and become a superheroine. Given that Lilly has signed the standard Marvel multi-picture contract, she’s sure to factor into upcoming projects on the slate.
So now that there’s officially another soon-to-be Avenger to keep track of, newcomers are probably wondering what sets Wasp apart. Going off of the source material, the character has a number of skills and abilities that would be beneficial in a fight against whatever evil forces come Earth’s way. Like Ant-Man, she can shrink via the Pym particles and communicate telepathically with insects to even the odds. She can also grow to giant size, but that’s something she only uses in the case of an emergency. Wasp does have other powers to make her more than just a Scott Lang copycat.
The comic version of Wasp can fly once she shrinks to miniature size, thanks to a pair of translucent wings – a result of genetic modification. She is also able to harness her body’s bio-electric energy and shoot “stinger blasts” from her hands. Initially, she required the use of wrist devices to release these (think Spider-Man’s web shooters), but her repeated exposure to Pym particles allowed her to shrink and produce the “wasp’s stings” naturally without aid.
Based on the film, we expect the MCU Wasp to maintain a good deal of these powers, but not be a direct translation from page to screen. It’s true that certain elements will be featured in the movies, namely Wasp’s ability to fly: Janet is shown using the same wings when trying to take down the missile. It’s also plausible that the wasp stingers will be showcased in some capacity, but without knowing the full breakdown of the costume, it’s hard to guess. But the wings seen as part of the suit imply the films won’t be adopting their alternate origin.
NEXT PAGE: Wasp’s Future in the MCU
Comic Book Differences
Like most comic book adaptations, Ant-Man takes a few artistic liberties with its source material. In the case of Wasp, there are a couple of very noticeable alterations, most prominently where Hope is concerned. In the comics, Hope Pym is the daughter of Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne (as she is in the movie), but never part of the regular Marvel ‘616’ universe – only the alternate timeline of Marvel Comics 2 (Earth-982). Hope’s alter ego is the Red Queen, a supervillain who co-founds “The Revengers,” flying via implanted bio wings and wielding bio-electric blasters and extendable claws.
Obviously, Lilly’s portrayal of Hope is a radical departure from the comic book counterpart. In the film, Hope is simply the estranged daughter of Hank, who has spent years grieving the loss of her mother. She took part in martial arts training at a young age, and as an adult works as an executive alongside Darren Cross.
From Hope’s first appearance in the MCU, it seems the intention is for Hope to simply act as the new Wasp; a tough and kind-hearted hero worthy of the Pym particles’ power. That’s not to say she couldn’t change sides down the line, but with all roads currently leading to Thanos, there doesn’t seem to be room for something like the Red Queen right now.
Janet, on the other hand, is more of a mystery. In the comics, Janet was a founding member of The Avengers (even coming up with the team name), while the MCU sees her disappear long before Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are even in play. Yet her connection with S.H.I.E.L.D. hints that she and Hank may have been part of a similar task force established beforehand. Ant-Man suggests a rich history for both Hank and Janet, and it will be interesting to see if Marvel decides to explore that in another movie or through a TV series.
Marvel boss Kevin Feige has clarified that , although a departure from the comics, Wasp will play a part in an upcoming Phase 3 movie. Longtime comic readers may be hoping for an appearance by Hope in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, but with the film already in production (without any mention of a Lilly cameo), it’s unwise to get one’s hopes up. Lilly herself isn’t even sure when she’ll return to the MCU.
Still, Rudd is officially part of the Civil War cast, so there will most likely be some sort of connection to Ant-Man. In the comics, both Janet and Hank were part of Tony Stark’s Pro-Registration movement, with Janet even hosting a pro-registration reality show called America’s Newest Superhero. Even if we don’t see the MCU’s Hope and Hank in the film, it’s possible they will be mentioned… but their loyalties are hard to predict. Throughout Ant-Man, Hank seemed very concerned about preventing the Pym particles from falling into the wrong hands, so he may want anyone with super powers out in the open for the world to see.
After the comic version of “Civil War,” Iron Man and Ms. Marvel recruited Janet to be a part of the “Mighty Avengers,” leaving a possible door open for the films to do the same. As the threat of Thanos gets closer and closer to becoming a reality, The Avengers are going to need all the help they can get. Scott Lang already made an impression on Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie), and will further network with the team in Civil War. When he becomes an official member of the team, he could vouch for his new ally and try to get her a spot in the group.
In regards to Janet, her fate in the MCU is still up in the air. Scott’s return from the quantum realm indicates that it is possible for Janet to return. Time will tell if Janet shall make any future appearances, but it’s a distinct possibility, even as the roster of characters continues to grow and grow with each film. Marvel’s willingness to dive headfirst into the weirdness of the quantum realm suggests that it isn’t merely a throwaway plot device, and may – may – have far greater implications as we make our way toward the Infinity War. It seems like too large a thread to just never address again.
That’s our breakdown of the MCU Wasp and how she relates to her comic book iteration. If Marvel Comics history is anything to go by, there are a number of routes the filmmakers can go with Hope van Dyne, so fans will be watching with a careful eye to see what becomes of her in the next batch of films. Hopefully, she can emerge as a fan-favorite character a la Black Widow and prove her worth alongside the likes of the Hulk and Captain America.
Ant-Man is now playing in theaters.
Captain America: Civil War – May 6, 2016; Doctor Strange– November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man reboot – July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Black Panther– July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – November 2, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019.