The Wasp is a superhero created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, first appearing in Tales to Astonish #44 (June, 1963). The title has been used by three major characters; Janet van Dyne, Hank Pym, and Nadia van Dyne. One of the founding members of The Avengers, the Wasp famously gave the team its name after the heroes take down the villain Loki. Aside from solo adventures in the split-book anthology Tales to Astonish, until 2023 Janet was the only original Avenger never to receive her own series.
The original Wasp was Janet van Dyne, the socialite daughter of a wealthy scientist. When her father was killed by an alien attack, Janet turned to his colleague Hank Pym aka Ant-Man. After revealing his secret identity to her, Hank gave her access to the same size-changing Pym Particles that he used, plus genetic augmentation for insect wings that would allow her to fly once she shrank small enough. Over time the size-changing would become an innate power (and, like with Ant-Man, began retaining her strength despite how small she gets, resulting in proportunate super-strength; at an inch in height, she's capable of bending steel), plus she developed the ability to fire bio-electric "stings" from her hands.
Though initially presented as a flighty, somewhat typical token female character at the time, with the same trappings as Lee and Kirby often struggled with at the time, Janet later went through considerable Character Development. After her volatile marriage to Hank ended, Janet (humiliated by the events), returned to the Avengers and became their new chairperson and taking over as Leader, in order to try and prove herself a serious superhero. Under her leadership, the Avengers expanded their roster's gender ratio and recruited several heavy-hitters, and survived Baron Zemo's siege of the Avengers Mansion; during which, Janet herself took on Absorbing Man and Titania, demonstrating just how much her combat ability had improved by this point.
While she took a leave of absence after this, she returned to active duty several times over the years, and after some time eventually returned to leading the Avengers when Captain America stepped down. Her leadership here continued (with Captain America eventually rejoining when the Avengers restructure themselves into a larger unit, the two becoming Co-leaders), lasting throughout the The Kang Dynasty storyline (during which Janet's leadership again proves vital for Kang's final defeat).
After Disassembled, Janet stepped back from the Avengers, but eventually rejoined following Civil War (2006), as part of the pro-Registration Mighty Avengers. However, her return didn't last long, as Janet was seemingly killed during the Secret Invasion storyline.
Distraught, the Wasp name was used by Hank Pym himself in Janet's memory, during which he would co-lead the limited series "Ant-Man & Wasp" with then-current Ant-Man Eric O'Grady. In the last arc of Brian Bendis' Avengers run, Janet was revealed to have been trapped in the Microverse, and returned to the Avengers under the new Uncanny Avengers title.
In 2016, a new Wasp based on Hope van Dyne from the Marvel Cinematic Universe was introduced as part of the All-New, All-Different Marvel relaunch. This new Wasp was Nadia Pym, the daughter of Hank Pym and his late wife Maria Trovaya, a Hungarian political refugee.
Maria was abducted and supposedly killed by Russian foreign agents before he met Janet. However, unknown to Pym, Maria had given birth to a daughter, Nadia, who was taken and raised in the Russian "Red Room" program that had produced the Black Widow, being raised as an orphan. When it became apparent that she inherited her father's knack for inventing, Nadia was placed in the Red Room's science division, where she reverse-engineered his famous Pym Particles.
Upon escaping from the Red Room, she turned up at Pym's door in the hopes of a father-daughter reunion but was disheartened to learn he'd very recently sacrificed his life to stop Ultron. Deciding to assume her father's legacy, Nadia then created her own Wasp suit and sought out the Avengers, hoping to earn their approval.
After a brief misunderstanding with a mind-controlled Vision, their long-serving butler Jarvis introduced Nadia to her step-mother Janet van Dyne —the original Wasp herself— with whom she quickly bonded, readily endorsing her identity as the new Wasp.
Shortly after introducing herself to the superhero community, Nadia joined the new Avengers roster as a full member and, with the advice of fellow crimefighting scientist Bobbi Morse, decided to become a champion for the smartest (and oft-ignored female) minds of the Marvel Universe — making her the Unstoppable Wasp.
Janet van Dyne/The Wasp appears as one of the main characters in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, voiced by Colleen O'Shaughnessey. Despite the fact she was mostly the same as her comic book counterpart in this adaptation (only without the destructive overtones of her relationship with Hank, or the resulting emotional baggage, which allowed her to remain The Heart of the team throughout the series), it still managed to increase her popularity with the fans.
Janet appears —briefly, via flashback— in Ant-Man, one of the many properties that form the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In that film's stinger, Hank gives his daughter Hope van Dyne (played by Evangeline Lilly) a suit he designed with Janet prior to her death. She surely enough donned the suit in Ant-Man and the Wasp, but she wasn't alone — her mother Janet appeared in the film as well, played by Michelle Pfeiffer. Ant-Man & The Wasp was also be the first MCU film with a female character in the title — fittingly, since The Wasp was also the first female Avenger in the comics. Hope also appeared, fairly briefly but heroically, in Avengers: Endgame, and both mother and daughter appeared again in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
Not to be confused with the Golden Age hero.
The Wasp appears in the following works:
Notable Comic Books
- Tales to Astonish (The original Silver Age stories)
- Ant-Man & Wasp (2011-2011) (featuring Hank in the role of Wasp instead of Janet)
- Avengers Origins: Ant-Man & the Wasp (November, 2011)
- The Unstoppable Wasp Vol 1 (2017)
- Ant-Man & the Wasp: Living Legends #1 (2018)
- Marvel and Dell Present: Ant-Man & Wasp #1 (2018)
- Marvel and Synchrony Present Ant-Man and the Wasp: Saving Time #1 (2018)
- Ant-Man & the Wasp (2018)
- The Unstoppable Wasp Vol 2 (2018–2019)
- Wasp (2023)
- Marvel Cinematic Universe (2015 — present), with Evangeline Lilly playing Hope van Dyne. Janet also appears in a supporting role, played by Michelle Pfeiffer.
- Captain America and the Avengers
- Marvel: Avengers Alliance
- Marvel Heroes (Non-playable combat pet)
- Super Hero Squad Online
- Avengers Academy: While Janet is a regular fixture in the game, Hope was added in 2018 as a limited-time recruit to tie in with Ant-Man and the Wasp and Nadia was added a few months afterward.
- Marvel Future Fight: Janet was added in 2015 as part of an update loosely based on the Ant-Man movie, and Nadia was added in 2018 for Ant-Man and the Wasp. Hope doesn't directly appear, but Janet can get her appearance as an alternate costume.
- LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2: Janet serves as the game's Mission Control, and is also playable in a couple stages of the story mode and in Free Play. Nadia is available as part of the Champions DLC character pack, and Hope was included in another DLC pack based on Ant-Man and the Wasp.
- Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order
- The Marvel Super Heroes
- The Avengers: United They Stand
- The Super Hero Squad Show
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes
- Avengers Assemble: Featuring Hope van Dyne as The Wasp.
Tropes seen in multiple versions of the Wasp include:
- Action Girl: At first Janet was the weak link of the Avengers, but later on became one of the smartest and craftiest of its members. Nadia was trained in the Red Room all her life.
- Animal Theme Naming: As The Wasp.
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: Based on Wasps, obviously. Nadia is shown to take this to heart as she looks to real wasp's ability to build nests from paper for inspiration.
- Applied Phlebotinum: The Pym Particles.
- Flight: When she shrinks, and can use her wings. Sometimes even at normal sizes, depending on the writer.
- While Jan's wings are implanted in her back, both Hank and Nadia had/have mechanical wings in their suits. Nadia has since created a "portable" version of her wings, giving her more freedom to use them.
- Hand Blast: The Wasp can fire bio-electric energy blasts from her hands. At first Janet required special wristbands, but years of exposure to the Pym Particles allowed her to generate the blasts naturally.
- Hank during his as Wasp time developed a gun version of this ability.
- The gloves of Nadia's suit work similarly to Jan's old wristbands.
- Legacy Character: Janet was the first and for over 40 years the only person in 616 marvel to take up the name.
- Hank Pym as Wasp II, also Petra Larkov as Red Wasp in the Ultimate Marvel continuity after the respective deaths of their versions of Janet. Janet got better in 616.
- As mentioned above, Hope van Dyne is the Wasp II in the movies.
- While Janet is still active as the Wasp, another girl has also taken up the mantle of the Wasp in All-New, All-Different Marvel. This other girl is named Nadia Pym, the daughter of Hank and his first wife, Maria Trovaya. She's basically movie!Hope as a Canon Immigrant down to her name meaning hope.
- Made of Iron: The Wasp's density increases in her giant form, giving her greater durability.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: The Wasp retains her normal strength and weight in insect form.
- Sizeshifter: Initially someone requires doses of Pym Particles in order to change size, requiring them to carry special pills or gas canisters. Later, the body would start to generate Pym Particles on its own, allowing a person to change size at will. Every version of the Wasp so far has gotten to this point.
- Super-Strength: Only available in giant form. A portion of the strength goes to supporting the Wasp's body, leading to diminishing returns if she grows too large. Janet, after a power upgrade in the Seventies, had the same strength in tiny size that she does at regular height, leading some to mistakenly assume it's super.
- Team Member in the Adaptation: She's a member on Captain America's side in Marvel: Avengers Academy and Marvel Puzzle Quest for the Team Iron Man/Team Captain America efforts whereas she was on Iron Man's side in the comics.
- Unbalanced By Rival's Kid: Averted Janet with her relationship with Nadia, who is the daughter of Hank Pym and his first wife. While Nadia fears this trope may be in play the two actually become extremely close.
- Unrelated in the Adaptation: While Nadia is based on the Red Queen and Hope van Dyne, she's isn't the biological daughter of Janet like she is in those universes, instead being Maria Trovaya's daughter. That said, while not her biological mother, Janet is a surrogate one for Nadia.
- Winged Humanoid: Hank Pym implanted two tiny wings on Janet's back, giving her the power to fly when she shrinks to insect size. Nadia has mechanical wings built into her suits.