Warning! SPOILERS for Ant-Man and The Wasp ahead!
In Ant-Man and The Wasp, audiences finally got to meet Michelle Pfeiffer's Janet van Dyne - the original Wasp, Hank Pym's wife, and Hope's mother, but after the build up in the first Ant-Man, she's totally wasted.
Much like the casting of Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, the news that Pfeiffer was joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe was met with great excitement. Here was another acclaimed actor taking on an iconic comic book character, bringing their talent as well as star power to the role. Director Peyton Reed even personally sought Pfeiffer for the role of Janet, having had her in mind for the part since the first film. However, Reed's dream choice for the role of Janet van Dyne almost spelled disaster when the actress shared with him that she's developed something of a habit of leaving movies at the last minute. It then fell to Reed to woo Pfeiffer on the job, convincing her to stick around by involving her in every decision made for Janet's character.
Janet is integral to the plot of Ant-Man and The Wasp, but she functions more like a McGuffin than a true character. The whole premise of the film is built around Hank and Hope's search for Janet - building the quantum tunnel, acquiring the stabilizer from Sonny Burch, kidnapping Scott, reaching out to Bill Foster (which, in turn, alerts Ghost to their plans) are all in service of rescuing Janet. But when it comes to her having an active role in the story, Janet is relegated to a flashback and a last-minute deus ex machina. The most memorable scene involving Janet doesn't even feature Pfeiffer, but instead has Paul Rudd's Scott channeling her via their mental link. The scene is rightly hilarious, but it only draws more attention to how little Pfeiffer is actually in the movie.
To be fair, the few scenes in which Pfeiffer's Janet does appear make the most of the actresses' talents. Janet's reunions with her husband and daughter are especially poignant, and Pfeiffer believably embodies a woman who's survived thirty years in an otherworldly and dangerous realm with only her wits. Still, with how hard Reed worked to keep Pfeiffer engaged with the film and her role in it, it's a shame that her part is so minor. Had Janet been rescued earlier on in Ant-Man and The Wasp, her experiences in the Quantum Realm could have furthered their understanding of the strange place, possibly even revealing a more permanent solution to Ghost's dilemma (among other crises currently plaguing the MCU).
The limited screen time that Pfeiffer's Janet has in Ant-Man and The Wasp is disappointing, but it's unlikely this is the last chance audiences will get to see her. Though the mid-credit scene is meant to imply otherwise, Pfeiffer is - along with Rudd, Lilly, and Douglas - expected to return for Avengers 4. Ant-Man, Pym's research, and the Quantum Realm itself are all thought to have a big part to play in that film, so it stands to reason that Janet's unique connection to quantum energy will have just as important a part to play. From there, it's likely Janet will continue to advise Scott and Hope, working alongside Hank to guide the next generation of shrinking heroes in either future Ant-Man movies or other films in the MCU. Assuming, of course, they all make it out of Avengers 4 alive.
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019