Marvel Makes Room for A Female Hero in Ant-Man and the Wasp

By  · Published on October 8th, 2015

Marvel Studios

One of the great criticisms that have been leveled against Marvel Studios’ very successful run of films since debuting with Iron Man in 2008 has been its lack of equality at the highest levels of heroism. While the men – Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor and now Ant-Man – have flourished in their own stand-alone films, some more than once, the women of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been relegated to background roles. There have been shining moments for characters like Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), but the closest Marvel has come to a truly female-led property is the Agent Carter television show, which follow’s Hayley Atwell Captain America character in the years following the disappearance of Steve Rogers. Even this has not been enough to satisfy fans who have long called for a stand-alone film featuring a female lead.

Just as complicated is the situation around Ant-Man, the Paul Rudd-led film that grossed over $230 million at the box office when it opened this past July. Not only did Ant-Man open well, it also introduced another very strong female character in Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) with the subtle promise that van Dyne could very well take up the mantle of The Wasp. Curiously, no Ant-Man sequel was announced, something that usually happens not long after the first movie finds box office success. Pundits went to bat immediately, calling for Marvel to consider not just an Ant-Man sequel, but a movie about The Wasp.

This morning, Marvel announced that very thing: a sequel called Ant-Man and The Wasp. This fantastic news is part of a slight reshuffling of Marvel’s Phase 3, which kicks off in May 2016 with Captain America: Civil War. With Ant-Man and The Wasp due on July 6, 2018, it is placed right in the middle of what can now be seen as Marvel’s year of diversity. From February 2018 to February 2019, Marvel will release movies headlined by Black Panther, The Wasp and Captain Marvel. While the shuffle has pushed back Captain Marvel by a few months – possibly moving it away from Ben Affleck’s solo Batman movie, which is rumored to be targeting that same November 2018 date) – it’s expected that the character may make an appearance in an earlier movie. This almost happened with Avengers: Age of Ultron and could very well take place in any of the 7 Marvel movies planned between now and 2019.

In addition to announcing Ant-Man and The Wasp, Marvel also set dates for three more untitled movies in 2020. With these three being considered Phase 3 movies, we don’t yet expect them to be Avengers films (especially following the two-part Infinity War.) It’s more likely that these are placeholders for further sequels to some of its new Phase 3 heroes. Assuming they do well enough at the box office (something numerous industry watchers didn’t think was true of Ant-Man), there will need to be room for sequels to Black Panther, Captain Marvel and perhaps Inhumans.

All of this makes for a pretty exciting slate between now and 2020:

Captain America: Civil War – May 6, 2016
Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017
Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017
Black Panther – February 16, 2018
Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 – May 4, 2018
Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018
Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019
Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2 – May 3, 2019
Inhumans – July 12, 2019
Untitled Marvel Movie – May 1, 2020
Untitled Marvel Movie – July 10, 2020
Untitled Marvel Movie – November 6, 2020

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the upcoming One Perfect Shot TV show (HBO Max, 2021) and the co-host of The Storm: A LOST Rewatch podcast. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)