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Who Is Janet Van Dyne? The Wasp, Explained

Oh, who is she?

Janet Van Dyne in Ant-Man and the Wasp

It’s been almost 5 years since the previous Ant-Man movie, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and the debut of Janet Van Dyne in the Marvel Cinematic Universe—the present-day version of her, at least, after a younger version of her appeared briefly in the first Ant-Man movie. But who is Janet Van Dyne?

Janet Van Dyne is the original Wasp, a superhero and wife of the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, mother to Hope Van Dyne, and former SHIELD agent and scientist. Chronologically speaking (in addition to Sif and Valkyrie), she is one of the first female superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as one of the first legacy heroes.

First introduced in the MCU in a flashback to her heroic sacrifice in the original Ant-Man, she was presumed dead after she shrunk to a subatomic level to stop a nuclear missile from hitting the U.S. Her husband spent the next few decades working to bring her back from the Quantum Realm, but only seemed to make progress after Scott Lang’s own foray into the Quantum Realm later in the first movie.

The plot of the sequel entirely revolves around her family bringing her back from the Quantum Realm, which they succeed in, only to be dusted for five years by Thanos snapping half of the universe out of existence. Now played by Michelle Pfeiffer, Janet Van Dyne seems determined to make up for lost time with her family, though her time in Quantum Realm appears to be coming back to haunt her when she, Scott, and his daughter Cassie are all sent subatomic in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

But how is this version of Wasp different from the comics (or other versions)?


Janet Van Dyne of the main Marvel comics timeline is a socialite and fashion designer. She works with Hank Pym to avenge her father after his death and is actually the person who coins the name “The Avengers” as the original first woman on the team.

She was actually one of the most constant members of the Avengers roster, staying on the team even after Hank Pym left. She was also a bit of the social butterfly of the team, being friends with many members, including the Hulk.

Marriage to Hank Pym

Hank Pym in Ant-Man and the Wasp
(Marvel Entertainment/Disney)

While Janet Van Dyne and Hank Pym were married for a time in the comics, their relationship was constantly under the strain of Pym prioritizing his work or creating projects that backfired, like Ultron. This culminated in domestic abuse where Hank Pym punched Janet. Ultimately, the two ended up divorcing.

While the exclusion of the abuse in almost every adaptation is arguably white-washing, the writer of the comic where the incident occurred later stated that the punch resulted from a miscommunication between the writers and artists.


Evangeline Lilly as The Wasp in Ant-Man and The Wasp

Janet Van Dyne has no children in the main Marvel timeline, though Hank’s daughter Nadia Van Dyne became Janet’s stepdaughter. Hope was actually an evil daughter of Hank and Janet in an alternate timeline and had a twin brother, Henry, though there are obviously very few similarities between that Hope and the Hope Van Dyne of the movies—who becomes a new version of the Wasp herself—apart from the name.

The Wasp’s powers

Much like Hank Pym’s Ant-Man, the Wasp has the ability to grow and shrink in size and seems to have augmented strength thanks to it. She also uses bio-synthetic wings, her “wasp sting” bio-electric blasts, and insect communication and control. This is kept consistent in both comics and movies, though the movies add that since her foray into the Quantum Realm, she seems to have the ability to manipulate Quantum energy to a certain degree.

What do you think about the adaptation changes Marvel made to the Wasp?

(featured image: Marvel Entertainment/Disney)

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Kimberly Terasaki is a Creative Writing graduate, fanfiction author, and intersectional feminist. She liked Ahsoka Tano before it was cool, will fight you about Rey being a “Mary Sue,” and is a Kamala Khan stan. She appreciates all constructive criticism and genuine discussion.