In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly the cast of the in-production Ant-Man movie let a few spoilers slip (probably the approved ones) about the story. In place were Michael Douglas (Hank Pym), Evangeline Lilly (Hope, no last name given by IMDB), Corey Stall (Darren Cross, who will also assume the name Yellowjacket at some point according to IMDB), and Paul Rudd (Scott Lang, who will be your Ant-Man for the movie). There are fans who are not happy about some of the revelations, which should surprise nobody at this point because we are a fickle lot. That’s not to say the revelations are chasing people away. I hear more rambling about the loss of Edgar Wright as director in favor of Peyton Reed. It could also be that this is a good movie since Marvel Studios has an impressive track record, with the current release, Guardians Of The Galaxy kicking butt at the box office. Then again, no studio stays perfect forever, but it’s really too soon to tell since the movie won’t be coming out until 2015.
Last night’s installment of Trope Shark looked at the concept of “fridging”. Well, that comes to light here as we asked what the term really meant in general and tonight we discuss Janet Van Dyne/Pym specifically since she isn’t going to be in this movie. Actually, there are a lot of other thoughts I have about the movie but that’s the one that, in light of the treatment of female versus male superheroes in both the comics definitely and the movies perception-wise. Again, these complaint do not necessarily mean this will be a bad movie but they ARE decisions that will ruffle fans feathers based at least in part on what we wanted from the Marvel Movieverse. Be warned, however: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS HERE!
The transcripted parts posted below comes from a video interview that you can see in the link in the first paragraph. Douglas gives the basics of the movie.
All right, here we go. Let’s try to make this as concise as possible. My name is Dr. Henry Pym. I’m an entomologist. I’m also a physicist and I discovered in 1963, a way, a serum to reduce a human being to the size of ant maintaining the strength. Not only that, but I was able to find a way to communicate with the ants. But unfortunately during this process, a tragic personal accident happened with my wife, my daughter, Evangeline, Hope. So I’ve had to pass my powers and strengths onto a mentor. Because my partner, my partner, Corey over there, f–ked me good.
A bit of research shows that Pym used a serum before going to gas form with the Pym Particles. So someone has done their homework. From what we can gather (since Hope Pym is a character in the movie and Janet isn’t) that while testing the Movieverse version of Pym Particles something (we’re assuming death but it could also be being shrunk to nonexistence or the Microverse or some such thing) happens to Janet and Hank sells his company to Cross. This comes up later in the interview.
Let’s talk about Scott. In the comics, he’s a thief. He steals the suit. What makes him a good guy then?
Michael Douglas (MD): Because it’s for benevolence.
Paul Rudd: It’s a great question. One that’s been hotly debated for a while. There are levels. There are some pretty bad thieves and there’s some really good thieves, let’s be honest. There’s people who do it for the right reasons.
MD: Darren Cross, my partner, my mentor, my nemesis, has taken my company and taken it in a different direction.
Paul Rudd: You don’t want to give away too much here. The blow-dart might come out. Right in your neck. Marvel’s serious, they have blow darts aimed at all of us right now.
MD: I need help, I desperately need help. I need someone who’s a master thief, someone with a brilliant mind, and somebody who can pull off a really great heist.
So you’ve gotta steal from a bad guy and when you steal from a bad guy, that’s good. Two wrongs make a right.
Evangeline Lilly: You said it so much more succinctly than Paul.
So we can infer that instead of Lang stealing from Pym he will be stealing for Pym. So will Pym ever be Ant-Man? Did Janet ever become The Wasp? One thing that bothered a few comic fans (myself included) was that Ant-Man and Wasp, both founding members of the Avengers in the comics, are nowhere to be found in the Avengers movie, instead using Black Widow and Hawkeye as SHIELD special agents. (I would also point out that Captain America was made an Avengers founder in the movie and pretty much every Avengers origin story I’ve seen except the original comics, which I reviewed recently. It’s like forgetting that Peter Parker didn’t meet Gwen, Harry, or Mary Jane until college but now he keeps running into them in high school.) And now we’re going to have a world where Pym was never even a superhero and Janet dies in the 1960s, around the time the comic was created. In other words the only Ant-Man is the guy who currently isn’t Ant-Man (I think, although if I’m right this will change) and there will never be a Wasp (unless Hope takes on the name in the sequel or something) and a villain will be using the superhero name Yellowjacket.
I do think that having Pym create the serum in 1963 is a good nod to the character although the first appearance was a year earlier. 1963 was when the Avengers comic came out, with Hank and Janet as two of the founders. So on the other hand it means we’ll never have Hank and Janet in the movies, or at least Hank will never be a superhero and Douglas is too old to play Pym at the “proper” age compared to the others. This I don’t understand. Sure Hank is the only one not being the hero in the comics and I couldn’t tell you if Janet is currently dead or not because that’s been an issue lately (more on that shortly) but Ant-Man and Wasp seem to be tossed aside by the movie based on the team they founded in favor of Black Widow and Hawkeye, two characters who started as villains (Hawkeye being tricked by Widow) until they switched sides. It doesn’t seem fair to the two characters.
And now the moment we’ve been waiting for: was Janet Van Dyne fridged. I think the case can be made. It was Janet’s death in the early testing of Pym Particles, at least this is what I gather from the interview, that led to Hank selling his company to Cross and causing a rift between Hank and their daughter, Hope. (Hank and Janet’s not Hank and Cross’s. 😀 ) That means Janet was killed (and not even given a credited actress; you can imagine pictures of her will have the usual extra who won’t be showing up in the movie and not listed in the credits, at least prominently) for the reaction of Hank and Hope, and setting up events for Scott to become the first Ant-Man. So based on what we discussed yesterday, Janet appears to have in fact been fridged. That’s worse than what happened to Hank because at least he’s in the movie.
And Janet hasn’t fared too well in the comics. In the Ultimate universe she was actually eaten by the Blob because the Ultimate universe is five different kinds of messed up.
Now does any of this mean the movie will be bad? No. Even with the directorial changes and appearing to further deviate from the source than previous Marvel movies (which were never 100% spot on but still managed to at least honor the comic version at least currently), this may turn out to be a good movie, and if it works out Ant-Man (as Scott) may still end up on the Avengers at least by the third movie (because outside of the Guardian, who are already a team and in space) I would be surprised to not see a Marvelverse hero show up on the team at some point. I don’t know if the Netflix-exclusive shows take part in the Movieverse but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them at least cameo if they are, the same going for the Agents Of SHIELD cast (except maybe Coulson, for obvious reasons). That doesn’t mean comic fans are going to be happy with the changes, especially Janet in light of the lack of female superheroes in the movies. (Sony has announced a female superhero from the Spidey group but hasn’t said who. At the least it’s a publicity stunt and attempt by Sony to hold on to the Spider-Man license even if we actually get someone.) However, we shouldn’t judge the quality of the film as a whole until it actually comes out next year. And look on the bright side.
We won’t have to deal with Hank’s exaggerated “wife beater” label.