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The other Wasp? Everything you need to know about Ant-Man's mysterious Janet van Dyne


Evangeline Lilly's Hope van Dyne will be kicking butt alongside Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) in this summer's Marvel superhero sequel Ant-Man and The Wasp.

This follow-up to 2015 hit Ant-Man leads into the events of Avengers: Infinity War, and sees Hope don The Wasp costume to help Lang battle a deadly new threat. The movie will also delve into the history of the suit's previous incumbent, a mysterious character who may hold more answers to Infinity War than you might think…

Janet van Dyne is the original Wasp

Hope van Dyne may be 'The Wasp' of the title, but she isn't the first person to take on this mantle. As the first Ant-Man movie revealed, Hope's mother Janet seemingly met an untimely end when she shrank to sub-atomic size and ended up in the Quantum Realm. (More on that in a moment.)

Leaving behind a grieving family – daughter Hope and suit creator husband Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) – The Wasp in her glory days was a baddie-beating, kick-ass hero. She even fought alongside the original Ant-Man, Hank himself.

Her death had a huge impact on Hope and Hank's relationship as he cut himself off and was (understandably) very reluctant to let his daughter use the same technology that led to his wife's fate.

As the post-credits sequence to Ant-Man revealed, Hank eventually softened and built a suit especially for his daughter, and in Ant-Man and The Wasp, Hope is now fully established as 'The New Wasp', carrying on her mother's legacy.

She was an important character in the comic books

As with all of the characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Janet van Dyne's origins are established in the comic books, her first appearance dating back to 1963.

One of the major storylines in the comics focused on Janet's part in saving Captain America (played in the movies by Chris Evans), after he crash-landed and became entombed in a ice during World War II. (These events were dramatised, sans the involvement of The Wasp, in 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger.) In the comics, it was in fact The Wasp, alongside Thor and Iron Man, who found Cap and thawed him out. We'll come back to this in a second...

She's played by an actor with comic book movie credentials

Bringing Janet van Dyne to life on the big screen is Hollywood legend Michelle Pfeiffer. No stranger to superhero movies, Pfeiffer also played Catwoman/Selina Kyle in Tim Burton's Batman Returns (1992), and gave what is widely considered to be the definitive portrayal of the character in all her back-flipping, leather-clad glory.

Pfeiffer is one of the most acclaimed performers in Hollywood, having garnered four Oscar nominations (including one for Martin Scorsese's acclaimed Edith Wharton adaptation The Age of Innocence), and has had a recent resurgence with appearances in Darren Aronofsky's disturbing film Mother! and the 2017 adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express. If anyone can bring gravitas and complexity to the role of enigmatic Janet, Pfeiffer is that person.

So is Janet still alive?

Well, given Pfeiffer's casting and the air of anticipation generated by the first movie, we know that Janet will be playing a significant part in the sequel's storyline. 'Alive' may be a relative term, however.

We know she's been trapped in the Quantum Realm, a place where time and space have no meaning, and that Hope and Ant-Man want to mount a daring rescue operation to see if they can find her. But if they do, will the version of Janet that comes out be the same as the one who went in?

In Ant-Man, her husband Hank is especially interested by the fact that Scott/Ant-Man was able to return unscathed from a venture into the Quantum Realm, which reignites his hope that his wife is still alive and can be rescued.

She might hold some answers to Infinity War…

Still reeling from the end of Avengers: Infinity War? Us too. But never fear, Ant-Man and The Wasp might just have more answers than you might think. Specifically, the Quantum Realm, "where all concepts of time and space become irrelevant" (according to Hank), might introduce us to the concept of Quantum time travel. And with the pressing need to undo the shocking climax of Infinity War at the forefront of our minds, we expect this mysterious realm, and therefore possibly also Janet, to give us some much-needed answers.

Returning to the moment when Janet saved Captain America's life in the comics, a clue of sorts may have been revealed. Given that Chris Evans has been snapped on the set of next year's Avengers 4 wearing his original WWII Captain America costume, may we surmise that the entire timeline of the entire MCU has somehow been altered by a journey into the Quantum Realm? And can we further deduce that, in this seemingly revised timeline, Janet is now responsible for saving the Captain's life? Watch this space...

Ant-Man and The Wasp is released in the UK on 3rd August, so tweet us your Janet van Dyne theories @Cineworld.

Sarah Buddery is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.