Not including Nick Fury or Agent Coulson, there were six core heroes that made up The Avengers roster, four with superpowers and two without. The only woman of the team (Black Widow) was one of the non-powered heroes, but that wasn't always the plan for the epic team-up movie.
Before Joss Whedon and Scarlett Johansson were involved, earlier drafts of The Avengers script included the Wasp, one of the founding team members from Marvel Comics who, like Ant-Man, is still waiting for that big screen introduction. According to the latest rumors, Iron Man 3 might be where that happens.
Through casting, set photos, Comic-Con footage and most recently, the first official Iron Man 3 trailer, Marvel Studios has been steadily revealing what we can simply describe as a lot. We've seen new armor designs for Tony Stark and James "Rhodey" Rhodes' War Machine suit, met the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) and heard rumors about the film's final battle.
These revelations beg the question of what surprises director Shane Black and co-writer Drew Pearce still have hidden away. One of those surprises coming attached to this first chapter of Phase Two of the Marvel cinematic universe could be an introduction of a character who may have a major role come time for The Avengers 2.
This rumor stems back to July, just before San Diego Comic-Con when it was quietly announced that Stephanie Szostak (Dinner for Schmucks, R.I.P.D.) had been cast into an unspecified role for Iron Man 3, news that's never been followed up with details on who she's playing until a tweet this week from the mysterious account of Roger Wardell.
Inside News: When Stephanie Szostak's role is for Iron Man 3 is announced, fans will go crazy.
— Roger Wardell (@RogerWardell) November 12, 2012
When combined with ComicBook.com's sketchy "tipster" claiming Stephanie Szostak is playing Janet van Dyne aka Wasp, it's not a stretch to assume that's who Wardell is teasing as well.
Both claims (and much of Wardell's other recent tweets) are entirely unsubstantiated but in the case of Wardell, his previous sparse tweets have not been proven wrong either. It's worth discussing since Wardell shared info on the Falcon showing up in Captain America: The Winter Soldier before that news broke. I'd also like to point out that at least two Screen Rant readers (1, 2) suggested Szostak for the role of van Dyne two full years ago, long before she was ever (officially) signed by Marvel Studios.
Szostak was one of the top-billed cast members from the official Iron Man 3 synopsis which leads us to believe she may have a larger role than we first thought and she even appears briefly in the trailer for a split second, throwing Stark up against a wall (image above).
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale with Jon Favreau and Ben Kingsley, “Iron Man 3″ is directed by Shane Black from a screenplay by Drew Pearce and Shane Black and is based on Marvel’s iconic Super Hero Iron Man, who first appeared on the pages of “Tales of Suspense” (#39) in 1963 and had his solo comic book debut with “The Invincible Iron Man” (#1) in May of 1968.
Another Stan Lee-Jack Kirby creation of the '60s, Janet van Dyne (Wasp) has always been connected to Hank Pym (Ant-Man), first as partners, later as lovers. Wasp acquired the ability to shrink in size, fly and fire energy blasts through Pym's research. Although if van Dyne is to be introduced in Iron Man 3, we don't expect the origin of her abilities to appear until later in Phase Two.
It's no surprise that a lot of foundation will be laid in this movie for the upcoming slate of films, including A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) which we've seen in set photos and at Comic-Con, worn on the Iron Man 3 shirts of Marvel employees. I mention that specifically since Wardell mentioned last month that A.I.M. is going to factor into Ant-Man so that may serve as the connecting thread.
Such an introduction may coincide with earlier rumors that Ant-Man may show up in the post-credits sequence. On that note, Wardell previously tweeted that like The Avengers, Iron Man 3 may hit theaters with both a mid-credits scene and a post-credits one.
Much of what we hear is rumor or speculation and the character Szostak is playing could be someone else entirely. Another theory is that she could play some incarnation of Whitney Frost (Madame Masque) from the comics who was at one point Stark's secretary (see the running gag potential?) with a secret identity. She has ties to Stark Industries, S.H.I.E.L.D. and was a one-time love interest of Stark.
Is Stephanie Szostak a good pick for Wasp?
Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015 and Ant-Man on November 6, 2015.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.