Be warned: Major Ant-Man spoilers lay ahead.
Despite the fact that the year is 2015, the superhero movie genre is still dominated by white male characters – something that is a staggeringly pathetic state of affairs, given the wealth of diversity available in comic book source material. Marvel and DC have both made some progress by planning female-led superhero movies for the future, but the point is – just as with movies led by any characters that are not white men – we are told we must wait. We are told to be patient, because these characters and movies are “tricky,” and “difficult to get right.” We are told to be grateful for the female characters that are granted a small amount of space to support male characters – as if constantly depicting women as facilitators of male power were anything like equality. All this being the case, there is much excitement around the character portrayed by Evangeline Lilly in Ant-Man, and her potential as The Wasp.
The character in question is Hope Van Dyne, daughter of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Janet Van Dyne. Janet Van Dyne, who died while Hope was a young child, is revealed to have been The Wasp – a superhero, courtesy of a similar suit to that of Ant-Man, who teamed up with the shrinking hero back when his creator, Hank Pym, filled the suit. She sacrificed herself to save the world by entering the Quantum Realm with no hope of return, thus ensuring the success of a mission. The plot of Ant-Man, in addition to containing this vital exposition, sees Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) take over the Ant-Man mantle to save the world from Hank Pym’s protégé, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll).
One of the themes running throughout Ant-Man is the conflict between Hope (Lilly), and her father, Hank (Douglas). This conflict is caused by her lack of knowledge surrounding her mother’s superhero identity, and Pym’s over-protectiveness of his daughter, caused by the nature of her mother’s demise. Hope proves herself to be perfectly qualified for the job of Ant-Man – displaying all of the necessary skills, while she helps to train Lang – but her father refuses to allow her to suit up.
In the post-credits scene, Pym is seen unveiling a super suit to Hope, explaining that he and her mother had created it, and that he now realizes they were creating it for her. In a rare display of self-awareness on the part of Marvel, Hope replies, “It’s about time.” This narrative twist sparked fervent speculation among audiences and fans as to whether we would be getting a female superhero other than Black Widow, Scarlet Witch and Gamora – none of whom have ever had their own film title. Evangeline Lilly addressed this speculation during a recent promotional event on social media.
“I was scanned for The Wasp suit, but then I got pregnant. Let’s hope I fit it again!”
There are three points of context to note here. Firstly, while it is widely assumed that a sequel to Ant-Man will happen, it has not been confirmed. However, secondly, given that Lilly was pregnant at the world premiere of the movie, the super suit scan must have been completed during the film, or shortly thereafter. Thirdly, the Marvel production slate up to the year 2020 is a matter of public record, so guess what? The Wasp will almost certainly remain a supporting character for the foreseeable future.