It seems like everybody knows the Avengers these days. People wear Captain America’s shield on their t-shirts, and have Iron Man stickers on their cars. The founding Avengers are everywhere right now, but one of the original team has gone overlooked: Janet van Dyne AKA The Wasp. We think that’s wrong, so we took a look at The Wasp’s comic book history because it’s time that people start talking about her again.
Who Is the Wasp?
Janet van Dyne made her first comic book appearance in a 1963 issue of Tales to Astonish. She was created by the great Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, and she was one of the first female characters created for Marvel comics. Her origin is a familiar one: Her father experimented with something he didn’t fully understand, she was left as an orphan, and vowed to fight injustice (how original). But her strength in the face of adversity is what sets her apart.
Janet became involved with Hank Pym (Ant Man) who used his Pym Particles to give her super human powers. While they were both able to shrink (or grow) in size and talk to insects, Janet also received other abilities. She grew wasp wings when she shrunk, giving her the ability to fly, and she was granted the power of electric “stingers” which she could zap with her hands.
Founding the Avengers
The fact that The Wasp’s founding status has been forgotten is a real tragedy considering the fact that she has spent more time as the Avengers leader than almost any other character, only Captain America has her beat in that regard.
Together with her partner, Ant-Man, The Wasp helped establish the Avengers. At the time, Cap was still frozen in ice, so it was just Ant-Man, The Wasp, Iron Man, Hulk, and Thor who called themselves the Earth’s mightiest heroes. It’s also interesting to note that Janet was the one that gave the Avengers their name.
Ant-Man & The Wasp: An Abbreviated History
While Hank Pym is the Avengers scientist, Janet is the business woman / fashion designer. She helped design the fashion forward costumes of the Avengers. Not only did she lead the team in missions, she did her best to establish the team’s public relations and keep their affairs with the world’s governments on the up and up.
While she will always be associated with Hank Pym, she is not his sidekick. The Wasp is a superhero of her own. Their relationship is rocky, and imperfect is some of the most honest ways in comics. That is mostly because Hank Pym is a very unstable man, who has earned himself quite a lot of negative attention from his teammates, and from comic book fans.
The two finally tied the knot in Avengers #60 in 1969. But after Hank had a breakdown and slapped Janet in the face, she divorced him in Avengers #214. They are romantically linked again, in the time since this altercation. Though Janet has never fully forgiven Hank, and they’ve never remarried.
The MCU’s The Wasp
So you may be asking, “Who is Hope van Dyne?”
The short answer is that Hope van Dyne is a character created for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She doesn’t actually exist in the comics. The Ant-Man of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is Scott Lang, who does appear in the comics, but operates without a Wasp of his own. Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne appear in the movies too, but as older characters who did their hero work well before the time of the Avengers.
The Wasp deserves to be recognized as one of the Avengers founding members. She was one of the most important characters in the team’s early years, and it’s a crying shame that she hasn’t received the attention that she’s earned. It’s hard not to notice that she’s the only founding member of the Avengers not to have her own movie. She’s also the only female in that same group. Here’s to hoping that Marvel continues to work towards better representation in their stories. If for nothing else, at least as a small favor to the mightiest heroes’ smallest teammate.