As early as February this year, actress Evangeline Lilly has been connected with Marvel Studios’ 2015 movie Ant-Man, which already boasted the likes of Michael Douglas and Paul Rudd as their leading men. Though it was not confirmed, an early report from Variety revealed that the role was for Hank Pym’s daughter and Scott Lang’s love interest.
At Comic-Con International this past weekend, it was revealed at the Marvel Studios panel on Saturday evening that Evangeline Lilly will be in the movie and will be playing Hope Van Dyne, daughter of Michael Douglas’ character Hank Pym.
Where did this character develop from? And what happened to Jan Van Dyne, also known as The Wasp? Find out under the cut.
Poor Evangeline Lilly can’t catch a break. When she was announced to play new movie-only character Tauriel in last year’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, fans were up in arms. The criticisms of the character were many and often baseless, or at the very least, petty. Just when you thought the hate had died down, the announcement that Lilly would be playing Hope Van Dyne, a character who does not exist in mainstream Marvel Comics continuity, a new group of comic book critics emerged, albeit with almost the same set of arguments as the earlier group of Tolkien fans had with Tauriel.
First things first, the fact that Evangeline Lilly is playing Hope Van Dyne does not immediately preclude the existence or mention of more popular female characters such as the original Wasp, Jan Van Dyne or Scott’s daughter Cassie Lang. That being said, given the very male-oriented nature of comic book films, it does suggest that neither Jan nor Cassie will have a significant role in the film. As it stands, Lilly really is the only woman that has been cast in the film so far, so there is admittedly some justification to the outrage that seems to imply that Hope Van Dyne has robbed her presumed mother of a Marvel Studios’ appearance.
And what about the name Hope? It comes from the final issue of the short-lived 1998 non-canon comic book series A-Next, by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz, In that issue, Hope Pym, daughter of Hank and Jan, calls herself the Red Queen and leads a villainous team called the Revengers. My guess is, the reasons for naming Lilly’s character hope are twofold – firstly, it’s a nice nod to the work of DeFalco and Frenz for creating the only daughter of Hank Pym in comics, and secondly, it steals the thunder from a more famous comic book Hope – the “mutant messiah” Hope Summers, which Marvel Studios presumably does not have the rights to.
Lilly’s casting was announced alongside that of Corey Stoll, who will play the film’s antagonist Darren Cross, and adopt the name Yellowjacket. Surprisingly, no announcement was made for Michael Peña, who is still attached to the film. My guess is that Peña will be playing secondary villain Crossfire, also known as William Cross, brother of Darren Cross, and that elements of Marvel Premiere #47-48 and The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes episode, both titled “To Steal An Ant-Man” will factor into the movie’s plot. All in all, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has proven that it is willing to mess with established continuity to an extent, but always to make a story more coherent, relevant to the larger picture, and an enjoyable ride. I am excited for Ant-Man, which will be out July 17th, 2015.