For as long as ANT-MAN has been on Marvel Studios’ docket, which is about as long as the studio has been in autonomous existence, fans have called for the titular hero’s better half, The Wasp, to come along for the ride. Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, and Janet Van Dyne, a.k.a. The Wasp, are two characters bonded through marriage and their important roles as original comic book Avengers. Janet is actually the character that gave the team its iconic name. With the upcoming feature film focusing on Ant-Man 2.0, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), and an older Pym (Michael Douglas), fans have wondered what this means for Janet and her super-heroic alter ego. Evangeline Lilly has been on the receiving end of that curiosity.
Lilly plays Hope Van Dyne, the daughter of Hank and Janet, in the film. Being the daughter of two superheroes leads to obvious inquiries, but as Lilly pointed out at last weekend’s ANT-MAN press conference, costumes are not what make heroes super. “While we were filming and during post production there was a lot of buzz about the character. ‘Is Evangeline playing The Wasp? Is she a superhero?’ I had a lot of questions directed my way about that. I just couldn’t have felt more comfortable or more happy saying ‘actually she is just a really capable, very powerful force to be reckoned with and she doesn’t have a super power and she doesn’t put on a fancy suit and look dorky in it.”
She was teasing her co-star, Rudd, with the dorky comment, in case you were worried. Her point was that there is plenty of room between wearing a costume and being a distressed damsel waiting to be saved by someone else, the latter of which Hope most certainly is not. As the trailers and TV spots have shown, Hope is the one teaching Scott how to punch. This was an opportunity for the actress to set an example for female fans. “That was the most exciting thing for me about the role.” She continued, “My super suit was my power suit that I would go to work in and be a high level scientist and the chair of the board of a very powerful corporation and I do think that’s a fantastic example for young women.”
Lilly then pointed to Marvel’s ANT-MAN Micro-Tech Challenge, “Marvel are actually doing this incredible campaign right now where they put out a competition to young women in America to create scientific gadget projects and they’re promoting the maths and sciences for young women and young girls. And they’ve put a lot of heart and love into that and they did it a couple years ago also, or last year, was it? And I was happy to be the face for that campaign. Playing the role of a female scientist in a world where mostly scientists are men is a great role to play.” The winners of the challenge were celebrated on the red carpet at ANT-MAN’s world premiere last Monday (video at the end of the article).
Lilly has heard the call from fans wanting more female heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is confident her character can, in part, answer it. The actress has been encouraged by the early feedback she’s received thus far. “There’s a lot of excitement in the focus groups that we’ve seen already with the female audiences about this character in general and the fact that Marvel are really really taking female characters very seriously. Looking at their lineup, you can see that they have great intentions. As a woman who came into a predominantly male film, I had a great time working with Peyton and the producers on this character because I could see a hunger in them to really really do right by Hope and do right by their female fans and the female audience.”
Creating a character girls find both relatable and inspiring is something Lilly sees as not just any part of the job, but the most important. It’s why she dies what she does. “When I pick a role, one of the things I aspire to is that somebody’s parent will come up to me after the film’s come out and say, ‘My daughter idolizes that character. You’re her hero.’ And that’s what we aim for, especially in this brand right? We’re in the business of making heroes.”
There will be plenty of daughters with a new hero in Hope Van Dyne when ANT-MAN arrives in theaters July 17.