Where's Janet? Marvel's 'Ant-Man' Omission Provokes Online Outcry

The revelation that Evangeline Lilly won't be playing long-lived comic character Janet Van Dyne in Marvel's troubled "Ant-Man" has led to the creation of a social media campaign against the decision.
Jack Kirby/Marvel Entertainment

Dammit, Janet.

The announcement this weekend that Evangeline Lilly would be playing a character called Hope Van Dyne in Marvel’s troubled Ant-Man came as a surprise to many comic book fans that had been expecting her character to be called Janet Van Dyne—better known to most as the Wasp, founding member of the Avengers (indeed, the character who named the team), former wife to Ant-Man and Marvel Entertainment’s second female hero, behind the Fantastic Four’s Invisible Woman.

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By contrast, Hope Van Dyne—or Hope Pym, as the character is known in the comics—is the daughter of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas in the movie) and Janet, and a super villain in her own right, known as the Red Queen. But where if her daughter exists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, does that mean that Janet does, as well? Apparently not.

In a recent interview, Douglas explained that the backstory of the movie includes “a tragic personal accident [that] happened with my wife.” Janet, it seems, is no more.

Oddly enough, this is the second time that the Wasp has missed out on an appearance in a Marvel movie; the character was also in early drafts of Joss Whedon’s Avengers screenplay, only to be removed later to focus on the already-established characters.

In response to this latest perceived slight to the character, fans have launched a social media campaign directed against Marvel Studios, based around the pun-ny hashtag #JanetVanCrime.

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There’s a lot to unpack here, not least of which the actual status of a cinematic Wasp. Given that we already know that the Ant-Man movie isn’t following the comic book history of Ant-Man with a great deal of fidelity—to the point where Yellowjacket, a costumed identity in the comics that belonged to Hank Pym himself, is actually an entirely different character played by Corey Stoll—there’s actually no reason to assume that the movie Hope Van Dyne won’t end up becoming the Wasp instead of the Red Queen, and end up taking the place of the comic book Janet in many respects.

Of course, she can’t help form the movie Avengers—that ship sailed two years ago—but the Wasp (or, at least, a Wasp) may yet fly in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, even if she isn’t called Janet. If that turns out to be the case, can we at least hope for the #JanetVanCrime crusade to become a more hopeful #NomDePym?