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Comic Book / The Wasp

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The Wasp is a Marvel Comics superhero created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Making her debut in Tales to Astonish #44 (June, 1963), Janet van Dyne has been featured in more than five decades of Marvel comics history. 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 a few solo adventures in Tales to Astonish, Janet is the only original Avenger never to receive her own series.

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 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, 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. In the last arc of Brian Bendis' Avengers run, she's found having been trapped in the Microverse, and returns to the Avengers under the new Uncanny Avengers title.

The Wasp name was also briefly used by Hank himself during a time when Janet was considered dead, during which he would co-lead the limited series "Ant-Man & Wasp" with then-current Ant-Man Eric O'Grady. Tropes regarding him can be found over on the Ant-Man page.

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. Fitting, since The Wasp was also the first female Avenger in the comics.

Hope was then used as the inspiration for a new Wasp in the comics, who appeared as part of the All-New, All-Different Marvel relaunch. Pym's first wife was a Hungarian political refugee, but she was murdered by the Russians before he met Janet. However, unknown to Pym she had given birth to a daughter, Nadia, who was taken into the Russian "Red Room" program that had produced the Black Widow. Showing herself to have inherited Pym's aptitude for science, Nadia escaped using Pym Particles acquired from the black market and sought out her father, only to find out he had supposedly died in battle. She then steals some of his unclaimed gear and is working to prove herself his successor.

Note: Unless otherwise stated, all media appearances below are presumed to feature Janet Van Dyne as the Wasp.




Video Games

Western Animation

Not to be confused with the Golden Age hero.

Tropes seen in multiple versions of the Wasp include:

  • Action Girl: At first Janet was the weak link of the team, 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.
  • Decomposite Character: In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, rather than being one woman, the Wasp is a Legacy Character: Jan was the original Wasp in the 80's, and her daughter Hope carries on her legacy as the new Wasp in the present.
    • Now subverted as in Marvel Comics there's been at very least two other Wasp in 616 not named Janet, with Hank for a short while taking over after her supposed death at the end of the event Secret Invasion and now Nadia Pym.
  • 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.
  • She's Got Legs: The Ladies (especially Janet) when giant through the fact that they wear very form fitting tights or dresses with their costumes that highlight their legs.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Tropes Pertaining to Janet:

  • Action Fashionista: Probably has the largest wardrobe in comic book history. Justified, as she actually is The Fashionista. See portrayals of and information about each costume here.
  • Adult Fear: Her and Havok's child was wiped out of existence from the timeline, but they still remember her as clearly as they did before the timeline change.
  • Arch-Enemy: In as far as her own solo adventures get focus, Whirlwind takes this role - being a villain who is obsessed with her and who most commonly faces her specifically. In true Marvel fashion, the two have something of a complicated relationship in that she'll put up with his presence if she has to, or even get jokey towards him, but the second he starts getting creepy, it's time for a "New Jersey beatdown."
  • Badass Adorable: Depending on the Writer, but Jan can kick ass and her quirky personality makes her adorable as she does so.
  • Baleful Polymorph: For a very brief period in the late 1990s, Jan was stuck in a mutated insect-woman form.
  • Battle Couple: With Hank Pym, and later with Havok.
  • The Beastmaster: Rarely used, can communicate with and control insects via tiny implants she received when she first became a hero.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Janet really wanted to be the second Mrs. Pym, and in a moment of extreme selfishness took advantage of his unstable mental state to finally get hitched. The marriage failed, due in no small part to her methods.
  • Bio-Augmentation: The origin of her wings; they were added to her by Hank Pym when she volunteered for his experimentation.
  • Brain Uploading: The Killer Robot Ultron tried to upload Janet's mind into Jocasta, his newly-built female companion. Though the Avengers intervene before the procedure is complete, Jocasta retains enough of Janet's brain engrams to turn against her creator.
  • Casual Kink: Uncanny Avengers establishes that Janet and Hank used to visit the Hellfire Club "to spice things up".
  • The Chessmaster: A very downplayed example, but she has learned a lot over her history about how important connections can be, and has learned multiple languages to use them more effectively.
    "My superpower is I get things done."
  • The Chick: Her early role in the Avengers. She develops into The Heart, throwing herself at heroism with an enthusiasm that rubs off on those around her.
  • Clothing Damage: In the The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! episode "Gamma World", her costume is torn apart when she mutated to an actual Human Wasp, only pieces that cover her ladies part remain.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: The Ultimates redesigned the Wasp after the likeness of Zhang Ziyi.
  • Cute Bruiser: Jan is so very, very, very much this, especially on Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
  • Death by Origin Story: The death of her father at the hands of the creature from Kosmos is what inspired Janet to contact Hank Pym, resulting in her transformation into the Wasp. Jan herself died during the early days of Hank Pym as Ant-Man in the Ant-Man film.
  • Death Is Cheap: The Mighty Thor gave Jan a Mercy Kill during Secret Invasion. Years later, after Avengers vs. X-Men, the Avengers learned that Jan did not really die, but got transported to the Microverse.
    • Also the potential fate of MCU!Janet after the finale of Ant-man but she went into a bomb instead of being made into one.
  • Depending on the Artist/Writer: A number of aspects of her character have varied depending on who's drawing and writing her:
    • Her competence, maturity, and intelligence varies depending on how much the writer likes her.
    • Her hair varies from being reasonably long, short and springy, to even boyishly cut.
    • Her abilities also vary; usually she has to shrink to fly and use her hand blasts, but some writers let her fly and blast at full size.
  • Domestic Abuse: Her relationship with Hank ventured into this, in a particularly infamous manner. Unlike most examples in fiction they worked through it and were eventually able to get to a healthy, stable relationship, and despite being the victim Janet has often accepted some of the blame for not minding Hank's mental state as well as she could to prevent things going the way they did. A lot of attention tends to be disproportionately drawn to the instance where Hank slapped Janet, which in itself was ambiguous as to if it was intentional, which has lead to real-life discussions on if the relationship was really abusive, and to some extent argued that Janet was the also at fault as she took advantage of his mental state by pushing him into marriage during a time where he was having a psychotic break, with everyone including himself believing he was another person entirely as the Yellow Jacket persona. On top of this ranting about Hank's focus on science and her wealth stood in the way of HER happiness and their relationship, one she pushed to even begin. Though there's a case it is a back and for as before this, Hank spent the majority of their relationship talking down to her and being emotionally and verbally abusive towards her (Values Dissonance was in play, given this was the 60s).
  • Fashion Designer: Her constant Costume Evolution is justified by her make up new outfits all the time.
  • The Fashionista: Janet is a fashion designer in her free time.
  • Faux Action Girl: Depending on the Writer, some people just don't know how to write a competent Jan.
  • Good Stepmother: Janet is kind and supportive step-mother for Nadia Pym. They're fond of each other, so much so Nadia eventually decides to officially take Janet's last name rather than Hank's, due to not really knowing much about Hank.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: The original pin-up girl of the Marvel Universe. One of her earliest appearances has her drooled over by the residents of a veterans' hospital.
  • Hidden Buxom: In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, where she seems normally endowed in her costume, but her bikini scene reveals she is very busty indeed.
  • The Host: Janet was the host of two TV shows in the Marvel Universe: "America's Next Superstar" & "America's Newest Superhero".
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: This was taken Up to Eleven in the years that she was still The Wasp, but Hank was Giant Man. Most of her other relationships tend to be this too, since even at normal height she's usually dwarfed by everyone.
  • Improvised Clothes: On the occasion that her clothing has failed to change size with her, either because she forgot it hadn't been treated, or the chemical process that was supposed to cause the change had somehow been disrupted.
  • Instant Costume Change: Depending on the writer and artist, Jan's costumes and clothes can work like this, as there's no way she could simply hide the costumes under the outfits without someone noticing (i.e. a full bodysuit under a short sleeveless dress.)
  • Jerkass Ball: Occasionally she'll grab this in order to make her butt heads with someone or do something to cause trouble.
  • Joisey: Averted. She was born and raised in Creskill, but years and years of finishing school left her with a no detectable accent. She's perfectly willing to go full New Jersey on a villain's ass, though, especially if that villain is Whirlwind.
  • Jumped at the Call: She was much more excited at the prospects of forming a team than the others, and was even the one who coined the name "The Avengers".
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: While she'd rather have a second to switch to a costume if possible, she will not hesitate to throw a hell of a right hook in her wedding dress or chuck a table in a short skirt if necessary.
  • The Leader: Its often forgotten, but Janet's been leader of the Avengers three times in total, for very long stretches of time. Her tenures combined, she's actually the second-longest serving leader, only behind Captain America himself.
  • Mama Bear: Alternate Bad Future timelines notwithstanding, she has absolutely no desire for biological children. Adoption, as is the case with Nadia, is not off the table, however, and she will move mountains for anyone she takes under her wing.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: For Hank. Eventually becomes a deconstruction of the trope, considering how that relationship ends up.
  • Missing Mom: While her father suffered Death by Origin Story, nothing was known about her mother for decades, as was common in comics at the time. It was eventually revealed in Avengers Academy that her mother was in a car crash when Janet was very young, and spent years essentially braindead before finally succumbing. Her fate and the fate of Jan's father are the root of most of her issues with becoming a parent, as she's very aware of the danger in her life and wouldn't want to leave a child in the same position she was in when she was little.
  • Most Common Superpower: Under most artists, she has a very nice bust.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Not nearly as much anymore, but her most common role in the original line-up; her role as a fashion designer was used to justify as many bikini, clothes changing and skimpy outfit scenes as possible. She also tends to change size in civilian clothes more than her husband, which leaves her naked since the clothes don't change with her.
    • In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes episode in “The Casket of Ancient Winters”, we see her in bikini and in the episode “Gamma World” her uniform is shredded.
  • My Suit Is Also Super: Janet's various outfits can shrink and grow with her thanks to the Pym Particles.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, Wasp is fully capable of kicking villains around; in fact, she can more than handle herself against most villains, unless said villain is a Big Bad or Person of Mass Destruction, such as Graviton, Loki, Enchantress, or Executioner. Unfortunately for Wasp, she's the weakest member on the team, but they're Earth's Mightiest Heroes after all. The weakest of the mightiest is still one of the mightiest.
  • Power Perversion Potential: More than just potential. Janet and Hank have used their powers to pleasure each other in creative ways.
  • Race Lift: The Wasp is Asian American in the Ultimate Marvel universe (except when she isn't).
  • Rich Bitch: Janet's personality when she was first introduced. Hank Pym cited this as one of the reasons he was so hesitant to marry Janet in the first place. After Character Development beginning in the 70's, she eventually evolves into a Spoiled Sweet.
  • Sexy Backless Outfit: A number of Janet's costumes have holes in the back for her wings, which are too tiny to see when she's at normal height.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: Most versions of The Wasp have this; Janet Van Dyne usually has a tiny superhero outfit to wear when she turns into the Wasp. If she doesn't? Well, then she has to fight starkers.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: Janet became trapped at insect size for a time after leaving the Avengers.
  • She's Got Legs: She tends to wears costumes or other outfits that show off her nice legs (particularly when she is featured in the comics that are drawn by Frank Cho).
  • Sidekick Graduations Stick: Janet was generally treated as Ant-Man's young, flighty sidekick/partner at the beginning of her career. As a member of the Avengers, the Wasp gained considerable experience working alongside Iron Man and Captain America, eventually becoming Chairman and, later, leader of the Avengers.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: Most notable with her The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers, Ultimate Marvel and Ultimate Avengers counterparts.
  • The Smurfette Principle: The only female member of the original Avengers.
  • Stalker with a Crush: David "Whirlwind" Cannon developed a romantic obsession with her way back in Marvel Feature #6, and has held the torch all the way through her supposed death and return. Any time Whirlwind shows up in a book, usually some attention is drawn to it, either by having other villains chastise him for his Wasp obsession or comment on how much it creeps them out, and whenever he gets a girlfriend, they usually mention how uncomfortable they are about him wanting them to dress like her.
    • Even Marvel Adventures wasn't exempt. Erik Josten (Atlas in the 616-verse) was a coworker of Hank's who noticed her whenever she would come visit the lab and became infatuated enough that he was willing to make Hank disappear and fight the Avengers just to have her.
  • The Story Teller: Many solo stories feature "the Wonderful Wasp" in Tales to Astonish showed her entertaining in various venues by performing as a raconteur. One of the stories had her using Hank to evaluate her story. She was really upset when she learned he wasn't listening.
  • The Tease: She always flirts with every member of the team, especially the male ones. In general though, she's more like their little sister most of the time. In Tony Stark: Iron Man, when her and Tony began dating again, she outright claims one of her main talents is being able to flirt and fight at the same time.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Janet received a power-up in the early 1980s in a Marvel Team-Up plotline, due to Hank Pym refining her particular formula of Pym Particles, receiving more powerful "stings" and higher strength when she was shrunken down, and again in the early 2000s when she gained the ability to grow to giant size as well as shrink. She also spent much of the 1980s as the chairwoman of the Avengers, where she scored several impressive wins one right after the other. During this time, she also learnt that her powers advanced enough that she could bend steel while at Wasp size due to her strength being compressed, and at the cost of mobility could keep her wings at higher sizes, up-to 4 feet.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Eventually grows into a better person from her original Rich Bitch persona, gladly funding ventures by both superheroes and civilians. (Notably, her Giant-Girl persona in Marvel Adventures was this from the very beginning.)
  • Ultimate Universe: She has a counterpart in the Ultimate Marvel universe. This version of Janet is an Asian mutant who has the power to shrink down to insectile size and fly via wings — as well as a few other implied "drawbacks" that Pym references, like eating bugs and laying "egg-like constructs" once per month instead of going through her period. The Ultimate version of Pym actually retro-engineered his size-shifting technology from her biology, and she let him take the credit for it.
    • Marvel Adventures also has a counterpart of her who rather than choosing to shrink and use insect-themed powers, instead was known as 'Giant Girl' and used them to grow. She later developed the Wasp as a secondary power-set and identity, to use when that power-set was needed.
  • Unfinished Business: Hercules and Amadeus Cho encounter Janet's soul in Erebus, stubbornly trying to win resurrection on one of the slot machines. This created a Plot Hole when Bendis later established that Jan had never really died in the first place.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: The Wasp has hundreds of different costumes thanks to her career as a fashion designer. almost all the costumes she's made are listed here.
  • Vague Age: How old she's actually meant to be, even by superhero comics standards, varies. Sometimes she's written like a 20-something, usually when writers emphasise her ditzy side. However, other times, she's written to be in her 30s if not older, such as in Uncanny Avengers, when Rogue — who is definitely in her 20s in modern stories — insults Jan regarding her supposed old age.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: Frequent, given that her clothes need to be specially prepared to change size with her.
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction: The Skrulls turn Janet into one of these during Secret Invasion, prompting Thor having to seemingly Mercy Kill her to save the planet.
  • Wedding Smashers: Janet nearly died when the Ringmaster and the Circus of Crime attacked during her wedding to Hank Pym.
  • Willfully Weak: Janet is fully aware of the power and durability that come with growing to giant size, but she prefers to fight at insect size. She'll only break out the big guns when the shit really hits the fan.
  • Working with the Ex: Happened quite often given the "on again, off again " nature of her relationship with Hank Pym. Also with Tony Stark, who remained one of her closest friends after they briefly dated.

Tropes pertaining to Nadia:

  • Adaptation Name Change: While Mark Waid said it's coincidental, her name is the Russian word for "hope", Nadia, instead of the English one.
  • Age Lift: Most likely because this version isn't in a possible future or a universe where Hank himself underwent this, becoming a man in his 60s, Nadia is quite a bit younger.
  • Canon Immigrant: Nadia Pym is basically MCU!Hope Pym ("Nadia" even means "hope" in Russian), only with her mother being Maria Trovaya rather than Janet. As well as the 616 heroic Equal to Hope Pym from MC2 who was also the daughter of Hank and Jan. Which was like MCU!Hope, but was a villain instead of a hero. In a weird way it's some what a circular immigration as MCU Hope was based off the idea of doing a Heroic MC2!Hope. Comics everybody.
  • Feminist Fantasy: In issue #1, the only named males to appear are Hank Pym, in a flashback when Nadia is talking about her past, and Naveen, the guy working in the bakery along with name dropping Bruce Banner and Clint Barton. Every other major character is a woman, the immigration officer working her case is a woman and she teams up with Ms .Marvel and Mockingbird to take on a Humongous Mecha stolen by a female Mad Scientist (who better to stop her than a happy scientist); and after talking to Bobbi Morse about the fact people forget she's not just an Action Girl that hits things with stick but closer to a Genius Bruiser specialising in biology and a bona fide Adventurer who went to the Savage Lands, along with the fact that until they discovered Moon Girl was the smartest person on the planet, the first woman on S.H.I.E.L.D's list of geniuses was only number 27. Nadia then decides to look for more women who's talents are going unrecognised by setting up Genius In action Research Labs.
  • Happily Adopted: At the end of Unstoppable Wasp's first volume, Nadia asks Janet if she can use the Van Dyne surname, and also moves in with her. By the time Mark Waid's Ant-Man and the Wasp miniseries starts, she's referred to as "Janet's adopted step".
  • Naïve Newcomer: She is just so wide eyed and innocent and happy about all the heroes and her newly found freedom, home, friends, and family... given how the Marvel Universe works, and more specifically, who Hank Pym is, she is set up for very hard Broken Pedestal situations, the first you can find under What the Hell, Hero?.
  • Related in the Adaptation: While based on the Red Queen from Marvel Comics 2 and Hope van Dyne from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Maria Trovaya is now her biological mother with Janet as a surrogate one.
  • Sweet Tooth: The first scene of her solo comic has her in in a bakery looking at pastries with her face touching the glass. She later walks out with a large bag full of sweets, after being given a large discount. Ms Marvel doesn't get a discount and she saved the shop from aliens once.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: When Nadia Pym appears in All New All Different Avengers' cross over with Civil War II she watches a news report about the event which causes her to start angrily asking why the hell heroes are fighting each other instead of talking things out.


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