Is Less Feminist in 2015 Than It Was in 1963
When it comes to male characters, Marvel likes keeping all its options open. So many superheroes have joined thecast of Captain America: Civil War that some joked franchise star Chris Evans “will make a cameo” in the film. Yet for some reason, Marvel keeps asking audiences to settle for just a handful of female characters in each movie.
Ant-Man, released this Friday, is the latest to skimp on women, with a frustrating backstory that makes its omissions even worse.
Of the 22 named characters in the film, five are women; go further down the list and roles like “Spanish Woman,” “Pool BBQ Mom” and “Gorgeous Blonde” show up. But Ant-Man the comic book character has a 50-year history with an incredibly popular female partner: the Wasp. This missing character isn’t just a fun sidekick: She’s the key to the history of the Avengers franchise.
Given the $1.5 billion the first Avengers film made worldwide and the $1.4 billion Avengers: Age of Ultron grossed this spring, you’ve probably heard of the superhero crew. Whedon lets a quippy Tony Stark name the Avengers in the movies, but Ant-Man the comic introduces the lady who’s really behind the moniker — sort of.
The Wasp, Janet van Dyne, is a flying, size-changing, energy-blasting superhero with a sharp wit and several tenures as leader of the Avengers throughout the decades. She’s a survivor of emotional abuse and domestic violence. She balances her superheroing with a successful career in fashion. She both recognizes a frozen Captain America when he’s discovered and bestows the name “the Avengers” on the team that rescues him.
She spends the events of the Ant-Man movie dead.
A missed opportunity: When news broke last year that the Wasp would not make an appearance in Ant-Man, fans were already aggravated by a troubled production and the departure of original director Edgar Wright. Then star Michael Douglas (Hank Pym) told Entertainment Weekly that a “tragic personal accident” had claimed van Dyne, Pym’s wife, during the process of building his super-powered Ant-Man suit, which provides him with a well-troddencharacter arc. Fans quickly dubbed her offing a #JanetVanCrime, a hashtag that’s still active: