Marvel is failing its first female lead in ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,’ but that’s a good thing

Ant-Man and the Wasp Poster
Image via Marvel Studios

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania looks to be achieving a very impressive feat. Thanks to the inclusion of Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror and the more serious tone, the upcoming threequel is getting the once overlooked Ant-Man franchises mentioned in the same breaths as MCU classics like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Spider-Man: No Way Home. It appears set to get a lot of things right, then, although it also looks guaranteed to fail one of Marvel’s most historic heroes.

For the second time running, Evangeline Lilly’s Hope Van Dyne might have her name right there in the title alongside Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang, but she’s been perpetually sidelined throughout the marketing for Quantumania. In the most recent trailer, for instance, Hope never even utters a single line of dialogue. Sure, Scott and Hope got to deliver their own version of the iconic MCU forehead-touch, but it still seems like the movie is going to be all Scott, Cassie, and Kang all the way.

On the one hand, this is an awful waste, considering that Hope deserves her dues as the franchise’s very first female lead — it’s true, before Captain Marvel and Black Widow, Wasp was the original heroine to get her name in the title of a Marvel Studios production. On the other, however, this might just be the best thing for the film and the MCU as a whole, for a multitude of reasons that concern both what’s going on off-screen and on.

For starters, it’s no secret that Evangeline Lilly has transformed herself into a controversial figure since the pandemic began with her anti-vaxx views — with even her Ant-Man co-star David Dastmalchian calling her out on them. Letitia Wright might’ve managed to successfully sidestep her own divisive online opinions in the wake of her amazing performance in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but it’s unlikely that lightning can strike twice.

So perhaps it’s smart for Marvel to keep Hope’s role as minimum as possible in the, uh, hopes of containing any blowback that might occur from her involvement (although, if that is the studio’s intention, they probably should’ve avoided casting Bill Murray). In fact, given the trailers’ ominous tones, it’s possible there is a big death coming, except it’s not Scott who’ll be killed by Kang but Hope instead. Not that anyone would want to see more superheroines being fridged in 2023.

In terms of how sidelining Hope could help the movie itself, remember that Quantumania is only a handful of minutes longer than the first two Ant-Mans so there’s only so much time to go around (despite Kang’s temporal powers). Something’s gotta give, then, and we’ll take less Hope if it means that Kang, Kathryn Newton’s Cassie — who could prove key moving forward, thanks to the formation of the Young Avengers — and Janet Van Dyne — Michelle Pfeiffer’s super-mom was criminally wasted in Ant-Man and the Wasp — could receive more space instead.

Marvel highlighting its middle-aged white male heroes over its heroines yet again (even if that hero does happen to be Paul Rudd) is never a good look, but in this case Wasp being swatted to the side might be to everyone’s benefit. We’ll find out when Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania hits theaters on Feb. 17.