That might not seem like a major achievement, but given that it’s the 20th film in the MCU franchise it’s definitely a long-awaited step towards better representation for women. Evangeline Lilly, who plays the Wasp (AKA Hope van Dyne), was happily surprised to find that her character would be getting double billing with Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang (AKA Ant-Man).
“I actually didn’t know it was going to be called Ant-Man and the Wasp until about two months before we started shooting,” she tells Yahoo Movies UK. “I knew that my character would be more prominent in the film and I knew it would be somewhat of an origins film for the Wasp, where we would introduce her for the first time, but I didn’t know it would be the first Marvel film with a female hero in the title.”
Both films in the Ant-Man franchise have felt as much about Hope as they do about Scott, which is understandable considering that her father Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) is the original shrinking superhero and her mother Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfieffer), is the original Wasp.
READ MORE: Michael Douglas teases Hank Pym’s future
In the sequel, we certainly learn more about the Pym-van Dyne family and since Hank gave Hope her super-suit she’s been doing far more of the heavy lifting and fighting than Scott, who’s been on house arrest ever since the events of Captain America: Civil War.
Considering how much legwork Lilly’s character puts into this film one could argue that its title should’ve simply been “The Wasp,” but apparently there was “never any talk of it being called” that. However, it doesn’t mean that that couldn’t be an option in the future.
What works well about Ant-Man and the Wasp is that though they work together, and are romantically involved, Scott and Hope do function as autonomous heroes too. When Falcon called up Ant-Man to help Team Cap in Civil War, Scott went off on his own and has since been living the last few years without Hope and getting on with his life. Hope, in turn, put her feelings for Scott to one side in order to get what she and her father needed to find her mother in the Quantum Realm.
“There is this budding romance that’s just not centre stage for my character,” Lilly says. “She’s hellbent on accomplishing her mission, which is essentially saving the world from tyranny and that’s really cool to me. That a woman can have love in her life but it doesn’t have to dominate her mind, her heart and her time.
“It’s the same in the second one. She’s hellbent on finding her mother and nothing will deter her from that aim, from that goal,” Lilly continues. “In the end, when that love gets in the way of that goal, she actually dismisses it.
“I’m not saying everything has to be more important than love but I do think that it is refreshing to see a woman who is singularly focused, who’s very autonomous but can also be loving, be romantic and kiss a boy.”
Hope has always wanted to be the person in the suit; she has the combat training and also the smarts to get things done. She’s a born and bred hero. Scott, on the other hand, has always come across as an accidental one, whose success often feels more like a fluke than self-determination on his part. Even Paul Rudd admits that Scott may rather not be a superhero.
“It seemed as if in the first [film] he was making decisions for himself and it didn’t pan out so well,” Rudd explains. “I think Scott is learning as he goes and I’m not even sure if he wants to be this superhero at all, he wants to be a dad. Where that leads I really don’t have much of an idea.”
It could potentially lead to the Wasp taking over the franchise and becoming part of the Avengers team herself. Disney CEO Bob Iger said back in May that there could be more Avengers films after Avengers 4, and with Kevin Feige confirming that Captain Marvel will be the face of Marvel’s Phase Four, we could see a new team led by the intergalactic hero with Hope joining as a new member.
Both the Wasp and Captain Marvel have a strong comic book standing as part of the Avengers, and given Disney’s progressive steps to make the MCU more representative, it could certainly use some more female faces in the line-up. Although, Hope’s Wasp isn’t the only one we should be thinking about in relation to Marvel’s future.
Ant-Man and the Wasp introduces Janet van Dyne, the original Wasp, and it seems likely that she’ll play a bigger role in future films because of her connection to the Quantum Realm.
“There are so many questions still to be answered about Janet van Dyne and her 30 years down there,” director Peyton Reed explains. “She says in the movie that she’s evolved and that her environment somehow has sped up or affected her evolution as a being. What that means we’re not quite sure but we definitely plant the seeds to it.
“And also, for eagle-eyed viewers,” he adds, “there is a shot in Ant-Man and the Wasp, as Hank and Janet are leaving the Quantum Realm, you can see a little section that may suggest that there is something else down there to be seen. I will leave it as that.”
Clearly, there is a lot to be said about Ant-Man and the Wasp’s influence on Marvel’s cinematic future, and though audiences will, hopefully, continue to see Scott Lang in a third franchise film, it wouldn’t be too bad to see him take a backseat so Hope could really spread her hero’s wings.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is out in UK cinemas on 2 August