There’s no need for a clever introduction to make this point: Ant-Man and the Wasp is the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to feature a female hero in its title. It’s the 20th film in the franchise. Every other one has been named after a man, or a group dominated by men. That’s a lot to put on the shoulders of that one woman—Hope Van Dyne/Wasp—and the woman who plays her, Evangeline Lilly. She pulls it off with aplomb. Fans of Lost expect nothing less of their erstwhile Kate. But had she not, it would’ve been bad news for the fate of the MCU.

Throughout the press tour for the new Ant-Man film, people have been asking Marvel honcho Kevin Feige about the future of the female heroes of the MCU. Having been beaten to the glass-ceiling-breaking punch by Wonder Woman, the studio will be coming out with a fully female-led movie next year in the form of Captain Marvel. But after that, Feige says, Marvel is looking to have a more gender balanced slate in its next phase, going so far as to say “more than half” of the heroes will be women.

Related Stories

That’s a big promise, and one that’s predicated on Marvel both building up the heroines it has, and adding more. Ant-Man and the Wasp proves that the Wasp—and Hope’s mother Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), if she ever chooses to suit up again—has the goods. So, too, do Thor: Ragnarok’s Valkryie (Tessa Thompson), Black Panther’s Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Okoye (Danai Gurira), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). After Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), there’s been talk of a standalone Black Widow film, and Marvel’s female stars have expressed extreme interest in making an all-female team-up movie. The point is, more women are coming to the MCU—the question now is what that will look like.

If the Wasp is any indication, it’ll look good. It’s easy to imagine a world where Marvel just casts a few more female characters, puts them all in uncomfortable boots and one-dimensional roles, and calls it a day. If Ant-Man and the Wasp is any indication, that won’t be the case: Lilly’s character was constantly in flat shoes. She’s also the primary mover of the action, pulling Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) into the search for her mother and leading high-speed chases. Because it’s a sequel, it’s still Ant-Man’s movie, but in another universe it easily could’ve been The Wasp (with Ant-Man Doing Some Stuff). And for a superhero with no powers beyond her suit, that’s pretty spectacular. (Though, Marvel, you better make good on that whole “Captain Marvel is the most powerful hero in the universe” thing.)

Marvel also, and I say this cautiously, seems to understand the value of involving women in the creation of stories about women. The new Ant-Man is written and directed by dudes, but Captain Marvel has several women—including Guardians of the Galaxy scribe Nicole Perlman and co-director Anna Boden—working behind the scenes. Feige has promised that the studio will hire more female directors in the future, and has met with several for the Black Widow movie, though none has been named. A lot of Marvel’s Phase 4 is still unknown—hell, we still don’t know who will survive Thanos’ snaps—but it seems possible heroines will be saving the universe just as much as their hero brethren.

Last week, Lilly got the praise and adoration of the internet when she noted she had no real gripes about the comfort level of her Wasp costume. Women, she postulated while bringing her high-heeled shoe into the view of the camera filming her, are used to being uncomfortable while doing their jobs, even if men aren’t. Her Wasp, of course, was given a slightly more manageable costume than the corset-and-heeled-boots Wonder Woman has been wearing while saving mankind. And if her trend continues, Marvel’s female heroes going forward will all be in sensible shoes—they may even one day get their own movies and backstories. She is, if nothing else, a Hope for the future.


More Great WIRED Stories

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts
Written by