Ant-Man Wasp Spotlight: The History of Janet van Dyne


Welcome to's Ant-Man Wasp spotlight!

On July 17, Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man will introduce audiences to a founding member of The Avengers. Scott Rudd leads the cast as Scott Lang, the new Ant-Man; while screen legend Michael Douglas will portray Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man. But as it turns out, Pym’s Ant-Man isn’t the only founding Avenger in the movie.

It was recently confirmed that The Wasp, AKA Janet van Dyne, will appear in Ant-Man in some capacity, likely in a flashback sequence. In the movie, Evangeline Lilly is playing Hope van Dyne, the daughter of Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne. It has also been widely rumored that Lilly’s character will become the modern day Wasp either in this film or in a future Marvel Cinematic Universe installment.

If we had to put money down on it, we’d say that shrinking, tiny little insect wings and bio-electric energy blasts are very likely to be in Hope van Dyne’s future. But there is also a strong chance that we’ll see Janet van Dyne again. Marvel’s Kevin Feige has hinted at his plans for the character.

Non-comic book fans may not realize it, but The Wasp was one of the first superheroines in the Marvel Universe. She is as important as Ant-Man himself, if not more so. While early stories depicted Janet van Dyne as somewhat flighty, her character has changed and evolved over the course of fifty plus years in comics. The Wasp isn’t as widely known as other Avengers heroines like Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel… but that could quickly change after Ant-Man hits theaters.

Before the release of Ant-Man, has a put together a look back at The Wasp’s various roles in the Marvel Universe while charting her place in comic book history as one of the all-time great superheroines.

Ant-Man Wasp Spotlight: Daughter

Janet's early years are covered in our Ant-Man Wasp spotlight!

Janet Van Dyne first appeared in 1963 within the pages of Tales to Astonish #44. As envisioned by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, Janet was a wealthy socialite who was the daughter of Vernon van Dyne; a scientific colleague of Hank Pym. During one of his experiments, Vernon accidentally summoned an alien being to his lab, and he was subsequently murdered by it.

It was Janet who alerted Hank Pym about the danger posed by the alien creature. And she refused to simply stand back and let Ant-Man avenge her father without playing a direct role in taking down the creature.

Ant-Man Wasp Spotlight: Partner

Of course, Janet's early days with Hank are included in our Ant-Man Wasp spotlight.

At Janet’s behest, Hank Pym gave her the ability to shrink to insect size and grow wings on her back. After defeating the alien creature together, Janet decided to remain Hank’s partner as The Wasp.

While fighting numerous supervillains together as a team, Janet and Hank eventually formed a romantic relationship.

Ant-Man Wasp Spotlight: Avenger

The Avengers form in our Ant-Man Wasp spotlight.

As they say in the comics, “there was a day unlike any other, when Earth’s mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat.”

Just like in the movies, you can thank Loki for inadvertently bringing the Avengers together. In the first issue of The Avengers from 1963, the founding members were Ant-Man, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and The Wasp. In fact, it was The Wasp who came up with the team’s name, after they decided to stay together and face the enemies that they couldn’t handle alone.

Most of The Wasp’s character development has taken place in the various Avengers comics, even during the periods when she wasn’t an active member of the team.

Ant-Man Wasp Spotlight: Wife

Janet marries Hank in our Ant-Man Wasp spotlight.

When Hank Pym suffered a lab accident and developed a new persona called Yellowjacket, Janet thought that it was the perfect time to finally set a wedding date with him. Keep in mind, this was one of the earliest examples of Hank’s mental problems, as Yellowjacket had no idea that he was Hank Pym. He even took credit for eliminating himself!

Regardless, they got married, the Circus of Crime attacked, and it was a whole thing. Hank snapped out of his mental fog and remembered who he really was. Hank and Janet decided to stay married and he even kept the Yellowjacket name and costume.

Happily ever after, right?

Ant-Man Wasp Spotlight: Ex-wife

Of course, there are some negative moments in our Ant-Man Wasp spotlight.

Well… that didn’t last.

Hank’s mental stability took a pretty severe tumble and he was on the outs with his fellow Avengers for attacking an enemy after the battle was over. Desperate to regain his standing within the team, Hank came up with a plan to attack the Avengers with a threat that only he could defeat. When Janet tried to stop him from going through with it, he struck her in an instantly iconic comic panel that tarnished his character for decades.

But it didn’t destroy The Wasp. She exposed her husband’s plan to the team and filed for divorce. While Hank Pym’s heroic career was spiralling out of control, Janet van Dyne took control over her own life.

Ant-Man Wasp Spotlight: Fashionista

Where would our Ant-Man Wasp spotlight be without her time spent as a fashionista?

The Wasp has a reputation for constantly changing her costume. There were even a few times that Wasp’s costumes only lasted a single issue before she moved on to the next one! Since these costumes were of her own design, the newly single Janet van Dyne pursued a career in fashion as a designer for both superheroes and supermodels.

Janet van Dyne didn’t follow the fashion trends, she set them.

Ant-Man Wasp Spotlight: Leader

Janet leads the Avengers in our Ant-Man Wasp spotlight.

The most significant milestone of The Wasp’s heroic journey came when she was named the new leader of the Avengers. Janet van Dyne quickly took to the role and she led the team on several occasions.

One of the greatest challenges of The Wasp’s tenure as the leader came when the Masters of Evil stormed Avengers Mansion and incapacitated nearly every active member of the team. In their darkest hour, Janet put together a team of reserve Avengers to save their friends and take back the mansion.

Ant-Man Wasp Spotlight: Martyr

Janet died saving the planet... or did she? Our Ant-Man Wasp spotlight explains!

After the superhero Civil War, The Wasp was a member of Iron Man’s Mighty Avengers team. She also displayed a more impressive version of her size-changing powers, which allowed her to grow to giant size with ease. That power was given to her by an alien Skrull who was disguised as her ex-husband, Hank Pym.

In reality, Janet’s new powers were a biological time bomb that nearly went off during the events of Secret Invasion. To save the life of his fellow heroes, Thor was forced to scatter The Wasp’s atoms and she was seemingly killed. When the real Hank Pym returned to Earth, he rededicated himself to honoring Janet’s legacy by assuming her codename as the new Wasp.

Ant-Man Wasp Spotlight: Benefactor

Janet comes back from the microverse in our Ant-Man Wasp spotlight.

Of course, this is superhero comics. And nobody ever stays dead forever. In Janet’s case, she was revealed to have never actually died at all! Instead, she spent a year in the Microverse while staying one step ahead of a tyrant. She was eventually rescued by Hank Pym, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and Wonder Man.

When she returned to Earth, The Wasp joined the newly-formed Avengers Unity Squad, which was comprised of Avengers and former X-Men to continue striving for peaceful coexistence between mutants and humans. In addition to serving as a member of the team, The Wasp also financed the Unity Squad and allowed them to live at Avengers Mansion.

Ant-Man Wasp Spotlight: Mother?

In a parallel dimension, Janet raised a young girl with Havok. It's all covered in our Ant-Man Wasp spotlight!

The Avengers Unity Squad had a hard time living up to their name. Within the pages of Uncanny Avengers, the team came apart and they failed to stop the Apocalypse Twins from allowing a Celestial to destroy the Earth while shepherding the mutant race to their own homeworld. On Planet X, Janet van Dyne was the last human alive!

While living on Planet X for several years, Janet married her teammate, Alex Summers (AKA Havok) and they had a daughter named Katie. To ensure Alex’s cooperation in a risky plan to reset the timeline, the time-traveling despot, Kang the Conqueror kidnapped Katie. Inevitably, Kang betrayed the heroes and he tried to use Katie’s life as leverage against her parents. When Kang was defeated, he angrily departed and the fate of Katie Summers was left unclear.

Both Janet and Alex still remember their daughter in the restored timeline, even if Havok remains “inverted” after the events of Axis. This is one of the biggest dangling plotlines in the Wasp’s current status quo. Don’t be too shocked if Katie returns someday, fully grown and possibly turned against her parents by Kang.

The Wasp will make her live action debut in Ant-Man, on Friday, July 17!

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