Marvel Confirms Michael Douglas is Hank Pym; Where Does This Leave the Wasp?

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Marvel Entertainment has announced what many people suspected: Paul Rudd, while he will be playing the protagonist of a movie called Ant-Man, will not be playing the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym. Rudd will be playing Scott Lang, the second character to fill the superhero identity of Ant-Man. Michael Douglas has been cast as an older Hank Pym, and that leaves one significant question: what does the movie plan to do with Pym’s long time partner in crimefighting, Janet van Dyne, the Wasp?

I already felt safe in assuming that, since no female lead actress had been announced for the movie and no one in a position to know had ever even hinted at the Wasp appearing in the movie, Janet would probably appear as a secondary character without superpowers but in a position to ascend to secondary lead status in a second movie. Just like War Machine, Rescue, Black Widow, Winter Soldier, Carol Ferris… I could go on. (Whether all, if any, of those characters have actually achieved “secondary lead status” is a matter of argument, but you get what I’m saying.) But with Douglas as an older (retired?) Ant-Man and Paul Rudd as the movie’s titular character, the odds of seeing Janet appear as a superhero seem to have taken a big dip.

Like, Aquaman, Ant-Man is a superhero who is easy to make light of if you’re not inside Marvel fandom (and even if you are), but the fact remains that he and Wasp made up 40% of the founding members of the Avengers: they are very established characters with a lot of history behind them. If I may continue the references to the DC/Marvel divide, Warner Bros. is getting a lot of flack these days for not pushing a Wonder Woman movie hard enough, as they should. But we should also remember that since setting off down its road to a Marvel-Entertainment-like multi-franchise continuity, Warner Bros. has made/announced two movies without a female lead. Marvel Entertainment, while they have an increasingly large cast of great secondary female characters, has, in more than ten movies released and announced to be a part of their continuity not greenlit a single one with any female character in the lead (or a superhero of color, it should be noted).

With Ant-Man, the company is solidly into Phase Three of a continuity that’s going on five years old and is currently planned more than a year and a half in advance. They are a part of Disney, for heaven’s sake. There is no company that’s making superhero stories that is in a better position, both financially or in the goodwill of fans and the wider public, to force a reluctant Hollywood to make the first superhero movie with a female lead in ten years.

There’s very little we know Ant-Man, overall. Scott Lang, older Hank Pym, Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas. Taking a legacy character (someone who’s inherited a superhero title) and making them the star of the first film about that superhero is already going to be lighting up fan forums around the web (which is not to say that it’s a bad idea: DC really could have benefited from making a John Stewart Green Lantern movie rather than a Hal Jordan one, for example). Maybe Janet’s origin will receive a similar upheaval. That’s what I hope. I really hope Marvel’s not erasing the founding female member of the Avengers when they bring her male partner to a wider audience. I hope they’re ready to bring a real superhero partnership between a male and female superhero to the screen.

I really still hope the Wasp is in Ant-Man.

(via Comic Book Resources)

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Susana Polo
Susana Polo thought she'd get her Creative Writing degree from Oberlin, work a crap job, and fake it until she made it into comics. Instead she stumbled into a great job: founding and running this very website (she's Editor at Large now, very fancy). She's spoken at events like Geek Girl Con, New York Comic Con, and Comic Book City Con, wants to get a Batwoman tattoo and write a graphic novel, and one of her canine teeth is in backwards.