Against all odds – after a troubled pre-production process – 2015’s Ant-Man became a giant success upon its release. Having been so warmly embraced by fans, it came as no surprise when a sequel was quickly announced, but what was astonishing, was the fact that with the sequel – titled Ant-Man And The Wasp – Marvel would evidently be giving more space to female characters. This is a marked improvement upon the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and this progress was further enhanced with the announcement that Michelle Pfeiffer would join the cast, in the role of Janet van Dyne.
The Golden Globe winner is a bona fide icon of cinema, with three Academy Award nominations to her name. But, she’s also, very specifically, an icon of comic book movies. Back in 1992, she delivered a pitch-perfect performance as Selina Kyle/Catwoman in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns – which remains one of the most significant female roles performed in a comic book movie to this day. Now, she returns to the sub-genre in a role that’s equally weighty, in terms of its place in the firmament of the source material.
In the Marvel comic books, Janet van Dyne is the original Wasp and partner of Hank Pym. She’s also a founding member of the Avengers (and even came up with the name) and has led that team, repeatedly, for a number of years. She’s a very powerful superhero and has had a long and auspicious career inside the pages of many comic book series. For those that are fans of the comic books themselves, her absence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe had been notable – and was explained in Ant-Man as being the result of her being trapped in the Quantum Realm for 30 years, after a mission went wrong. The plot of that movie has Scott Lang enter the Quantum Realm and return safely, though – so speculation immediately began as to whether he might yet be able to retrieve the lost Janet.
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With the casting of Michelle Pfeiffer, it’s certainly hopeful that this could be the case – since it would be a great boost to the franchise to have her dig in to a significant, perhaps recurring role. The nature and size of her part in Ant-Man And The Wasp is predictably being kept under wraps, of course, but Pfeiffer did share with Variety recently that she was drawn to the project by the script, which builds upon the tone established by the first film.
“It had this great sense of humor about it and just this unusual tone,” she says. “This new script has the same thing. It’s nicely written.”
This will be reassuring to audiences – particularly as the writing team has drastically changed. Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Paul Rudd, and Adam McKay were ultimately credited with writing Ant-Man, but Ant-Man And The Wasp sees Rudd joined by Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari, instead.
The question remains, though – does the title, Ant-Man And The Wasp, refer to Scott Lang and Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), or Scott Lang and Janet van Dyne? Are we about to see the birth of a new Wasp – as suggested by the credits sequence of Ant-Man – or the retrieval of an established Wasp? All will be revealed on June 29th, 2018.