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I Have a Weird Theory About Ant-Man and The Wasp

Janet Van Dyne in Ant-Man and the Wasp


Okay, hear me out.

This weekend I saw Ant-Man and The Wasp for a second time so that I could see if an impression that struck me the first time held up. I also told my friends, who had not yet seen the movie, to kindly watch whenever Michelle Pfeiffer was onscreen so that we could have a conversation about my strange theory thereafter.

Ant-Man and The Wasp was, to my delight, even better the second time through. Somehow the wacky B-plot full of car chases didn’t seem to drag as much knowing how it would end, and I was able to relax and enjoy the many comedic set-ups and deliveries. But the overall light tone of Ant-Man and The Wasp only served to shore up my hypothesis. Here’s the part I can’t stop thinking about:

Towards the end of the movie, Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym lands his vessel in the Quantum Realm in a desperate bid to find his lost wife, Janet Van Dyne (Pfeiffer). In a colorfully melting quantum landscape composed like a mashup of Kirby and Ditko’s cosmic trips, Pym wanders directionless, searching for Janet.

All of a sudden, he appears to be back in the family’s old Victorian house. The ticking of a clock is loud in our ears. Hank is spoken to by visions of his daughter Hope Van Dyne, nu-Ant-Man Scott Lang, and old science frenemy Bill Foster in a disorienting sequence that feels uneasy.

You get the sense, while watching, that something really bad is about to happen to Hank. Then he is facing a truly scary vision: a masked, menacing person with a jaggedly threatening weapon slung across their back. It’s an appearance more Mad Max than Marvel. The first time I saw this, I honestly thought we were about to see the last of Hank.

Then the masked figure takes off their mask and it’s … the lovely, silver-haired Janet. That freaky weapon across her back appears to be a repurposed piece of her original Wasp’s wing (this is awesome). She and her husband, who have not seen each other in thirty years, share a heartwarming embrace. Hank admits that he thought he was done for, but with Janet’s assistance they make it back to the craft and are determined to reunite with their daughter Hope.

Yet Janet is also quick to tell Hank that she’s not the same person that she was before. “This place, it changes you,” she says of the Quantum Realm, and goes on to say that she had to adapt to survive but also evolve. It’s as unsettling a statement right after her first unsettling appearance. Then, when Janet is back in the normal world, she quickly helps turn the Ava/Ghost situation around, revealing that she has considerable, and unknown, Quantum-based powers. “Did you know she could do that?” Scott asks an amazed Hank.

My theory is that Janet Van Dyne is being set up as a future villain in the Ant-Man/Wasp ‘verse. 

But Kaila, you say, aren’t you reading into this a bit much? Perhaps. But the combination of Janet’s jarring introduction, which felt like some kind of warning, then her statement about evolving, coupled with her now potentially limitless power, seems to suggest that we don’t get this Janet back simply so that she can retire with Hank happily to a secluded beach where that they can live out their golden years. (After they get undusted.)

Since she was introduced in Marvel comics as one of the founding members of the Avengers (she named the team!), Janet has led a long and storied life. She often emerges as a team leader, her powers grow over time and with the help of Pym particles, and after comics Janet’s own trips to the Microverse/Quantum Realm, she does gain new abilities. Don’t get me wrong—I think that the MCU’s brilliant Janet Van Dyne is inclined to be a hero. But I wonder just how much she was changed in the Realm.

It’s also much more interesting to think that the Ant-Man/Wasp team might have to face an internal and personal threat in the form of Janet. As much as I enjoy this ‘verse, villains have not been their strong suit, and throwing Janet into the baddie mix would make for a compelling story.

Adding fuel to my weird theory fire, in a story that came out today in The Hollywood Reporter, it’s noted that Janet has “evolved in ways not yet apparent,” and director Peyton Reid indicates that he went into this movie with the idea that the Quantum Realm is vast and includes all sorts of beings and even civilizations. Reid told THR:

“We knew going into this that there’s a lot of opportunity to be mined. We know enough about Janet Van Dyne to know she not only survived down there, but it’s safe to assume she thrived in various ways down there,” says Reed. “As we say in the movie, she’s also evolved. We wanted to get enough to just sort of pique audience’s curiosity about it and hopefully at some point we will be able to show the audiences some of the things we’ve been talking about and ruminating about.”

Pointing out that Janet “thrived” in the untamed Realm, and that there’s a lot of opportunities to continue to explore what may have happened out there—and perhaps what happened to so drastically change her?  Hmm. Hmmmmm.

It’s worth mentioning that Michelle Pfeiffer also played one of the most iconic and complicated female supervillains to date in the form of Batman Returns‘ Catwoman. Whether Janet goes bad or not, it would feel like a waste of Pfeiffer’s abilities to leave her buzzing around in the background.

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Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.