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Why that new 'Ant-Man' hero may not be dead after all

Why that new 'Ant-Man' hero may not be dead after all
Marvel's "Ant-Man." (Marvel)

Though "Ant-Man’s" primary purpose may be to introduce audiences to the titular shrinking superhero via a redemption story wrapped in a heist movie, Scott Lang and Hank Pym are not the only Marvel heroes introduced in the film. Another massive comic book character was introduced, and her arrival could change things for Marvel forever. 

A large portion of the Marvel plot in “Ant-Man” was spent watching the aged hero Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) pass on his shrinking learnings and superhero fighting tricks to the unrelated ex-con but fellow father Scott Lang (Paul Rudd). Meanwhile, Pym’s daughter, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), was left understandably frustrated for being passed over with the Ant-Man responsibilities. Where was her super suit? Why was she sidelined? Thankfully, by the end of the movie Hope was about to find out. Warning: "Ant-Man" spoilers follow. 

Turns out Hope’s mother (who we learn of via a flashback) is the one and only Janet van Dyne, legendary comic book character Wasp (and one of the founding members of the comic book Avengers). Back in the day, Janet and her husband, the aforementioned Pym, battled the forces of evil -- each with a fancy shrinking suit. But sadly, Janet was lost in the “quantum realm” -- thus not being able to hand down this legacy to Hope. However, by the end of the film, Pym surprises Hope with her very own Wasp suit. 

Though Pym was intent on keeping Hope away from the shrinking technology in order to prevent any chance of her meeting a fate similar to that of her mother's, Pym's growth through the film enables him to see that all he's doing is holding Hope back. In the end-credit tease, Pym presents Hope with an upgraded prototype Wasp suit that he and Janet were working on, something Hope's mother never got to use. 

After an entire movie showing why Hope deserves to wear the Ant-Man suit, fans are eager to see her inherit her mother’s title and carry on as the new Wasp. 

But Hope’s new Wasp suit doesn’t necessarily mean that Janet is gone forever. The Marvel movie rule is that if you don’t see them die on camera (and sometimes even that is not enough: remember Agent Coulson?) are they ever really gone? Could Janet van Dyne still be alive? If Lang could survive the perilous trip to the quantum realm (which he does in the film), couldn’t Janet? 

”I think the door is definitely open," said Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. "Without spoiling it, what Scott experiences at the end of the movie is very strange. [The quantum realm] is a strange place, the normal rules of time and space don’t apply. So there’s certainly ideas to use that to our advantage, from a storytelling perspective, to see Janet again."

The signs of Janet’s survival don’t stop there. In fact, the original Wasp was so important to include in “Ant-Man" that director Peyton Reed reworked the script just to include this pivotal hero.

It was such a crucial thing that I think in the early drafts she was mentioned but she was never a presence in the movie and I knew I wanted her to be a presence in the movie,” Reed said. “But when I first came in, I wasn’t sure how. And when Adam McKay and Paul came on to rewrite, we came up with the notion of actually being able to see her in a flashback but also introducing this quantum realm.”

The quantum realm has been introduced before in the comics (and is sometimes referred to as the Microverse). Pym’s character explains it simply as a subatomic dimension that can be entered once a subject is made tiny enough. Inside the realm, time and space no longer matter; it exists in its own state of being. Unfortunately it’s very difficult to leave, as we found out from Janet, but Lang found a way out.

“[By] the time we get to the end of the movie, Hank had spent over a decade trying to figure out a way to rescue her and he was unable to," Reed said. "And now in present day, Scott has gone in and actually survived, so it’s opened this window with Hank about 'OK, there’s a possibility that maybe she’s there.' We don’t know in what form she is. We don’t know if this obsession is going to be a good thing or a bad thing for Hank Pym but it’s definitely something at the end of the movie that there’s a lot more story there to tell.”

Does that mean the Marvel cinematic universe will be spending more time in the quantum realm? “ Maybe,” Feige said. “I will say that in terms of going into weird places like that, the quantum realm is just the beginning for where some of the movies, ‘Doctor Strange’ in particular, will be going.” 

Lilly said she's hopeful for a Wasp duo in a future film. “It’s left open-ended and there’s that pondering at the end of the film that makes everybody in the audience go ‘Wait, what? Is it possible?’” she said. “I’m waiting to see just like everybody else. I think that would be a really cool story twist for an Ant-Man sequel.”

Just imagine, double Wasps. Could be great.

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