Name: Janet Van Dyne
Superhero Name: Wasp
Created By: Stan Lee, Ernie Hart and Jack Kirby
Played By: Michelle Pfeiffer
Powers: Multilingual, expert combatant, talented fashion designer, size reduction, bio-synthetic wings (only useful when Janet is shrunk down), Wasp’s stings (bio-electric blasts that can harm even the most superhumanly strong being, and can be used at any height), insect communication
Mini Bio: Janet Van Dyne grew up in a wealthy family – her uncle was a textile magnate, her aunt a talented fashion designer, and her father a renowned scientist. Tragedy struck early in Janet’s life though, when her mother was involved in a serious car accident, leaving her in a vegetative state until she died.
As a young woman, Janet enjoyed the life of a socialite, and pursued an interest in fashion design, though she always found time to accompany her father to his scientific meetings. It was at one of these meetings she met Hank Pym, she liked him immediately, and asked him out for dinner. Hank said no as he was still mourning his first wife, and wanted to focus on his research. But, Janet persisted, and the two went out for a few friendly dinner dates.
Things took a turn when Janet’s father was killed by an alien from Kosmos, which he had accidently summoned from another dimension with his gamma-ray beam. Janet discovered her father’s lifeless body and immediately called Hank for help, swearing revenge on whoever did this. Hank was impressed by her bravery and revealed to her that he was Ant Man, and vowed to help her avenge her father’s death. He grafted synthetic wings and antennae onto Janet that would only be visible when she shrunk down, and from then on, Janet became the superhero known as Wasp.
The two defeated the alien who killed Janet’s father and then continued crime fighting together as Ant Man and The Wasp. This led to a team up between them, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Hulk in a battle against Loki, creating the first Avengers team.
This didn’t stop Janet from working in fashion, as she started making her own costumes, as well as her teammates and friends. She gained notoriety for creating outfits for She-Hulk, and grew her fashion brand until she was a millionaire, all while working as an Avenger.
Her relationship with Hank suffered though, as the guilt for creating Ultron and the pressures of being a superhero caught up to him. When Hank developed a new personality, only known as the Yellowjacket, Janet was the only one who figured out who it was under the costume when he proposed to her – something Hank had been too emotionally repressed to do. A fight broke out at the wedding itself when it was overrun by villains, which restored Hank’s usual personality. After their honeymoon, the two attempted retirement from hero work for the sake of Hank’s mental health.
The retirement didn’t last long, and before long the two were active Avengers again, though Hank’s mental health did not improve. It all came to a head when Hank hit Janet during an argument about him trying to save his place in the Avengers after being court-martialed. After Hank was removed from the Avengers, Janet filed for divorce.
Since then, Janet has lead the Avengers team, built her fashion company even further, worked with multiple hero teams, has died and come back to life again, and so much more. Her relationship with Hank Pym can only be described as tumultuous, as the pair have worked together as heroes multiple times since the divorce with varying levels of success.
Most recently, she has taken a role in the Agents Of Wakanda team, which serves as an Avengers support crew.
Interesting Trivia: Janet has named multiple people, and teams, in the Marvel Universe. She came up with the ‘Avengers’ name, saying they needed something ‘dramatic and colourful’ to represent them. She also gave Vision the idea for his name, after describing him as an ‘unearthly inhuman vision,’ and gave Eros his hero name of Starfox, justifying it by saying it merged two parts of him – he was born among the stars, and he was a foxy character.
First Comic Appearance: Tales To Astonish issue 44 (1963)
Most Common Team Ups: Avengers, Agents Of Wakanda, Liberators
Comic Recommendations: Avengers Origins: Ant Man And The Wasp (2011) by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Avengers (1982-1984) by Jim Shooter, Steven Grant, Roger Stern and others, Wasp (2023) by Al Ewing
[…] Collection reading order for Iron Man, and I spent most of last month talking about Ant Man and The Wasp, so let’s bring them together, along with a few other heroes, and go way back to the […]