This past weekend, Ant-Man and the Wasp released in theaters in a number of countries to some rather high reviews. Though the movie was certainly fun, it ultimately failed to live up to its name, disappointing audiences by being simply a sequel to Ant-Man rather than being a team-up movie about Ant-Man and the Wasp.
One of the biggest draws about Ant-Man and the Wasp was that it was going to be the first movie from Marvel Studios to have a leading female hero. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had a fair number of female heroes over the years, including Black Widow and Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man and the Wasp was the first movie from Marvel to actually market itself as having a female protagonist. Despite the marketing and the title, Hope Van Dyne / The Wasp was yet again not the hero of the movie, and instead received very little development throughout the course of the story.
While this decision by Marvel would have been understandable had the movie simply been titled Ant-Man 2, or even Ant-Man with the Wasp, the movie was indeed titled Ant-Man and the Wasp, strongly implying that the movie would feature both characters as the protagonists. The marketing of the movie backed this up as well. The movie itself, however, said otherwise, with Evangeline Lilly's Hope Van Dyne taking backseat to Paul Rudd's Ant-Man yet again.
The first issue in the movie for the female "protagonist" was that she didn't show up until nearly 20 minutes into the actual story. While she appeared in flashbacks during the first minute, her present day character was left out for almost the entire first act, while the actual protagonist Scott Lang received about 15 minutes of backstory to help set up where his character was at in life.
As the movie went on, the Wasp still stayed out of the spotlight. Though she did have some rather impressive fight scenes, her character herself remained crudely underdeveloped. In fairness, Hope did have a rather powerful motivation to her, which was bringing back her mother, but as a character, she didn't really go anywhere. She didn't have any defining flaws, which was a huge part of the issue with her character, as it meant that she had nowhere to go throughout the course of the movie.
The only reasonable development that Hope Van Dyne went through from the beginning through the end of Ant-Man and the Wasp was in relation to Scott Lang. At the beginning of the movie, she hated Scott's guts, and by the ending, she had forgiven him for the mistakes he had made. However, this really isn't any sort of development that improves her character, and instead just helped show the development of Scott Lang. All things considered, Wasp went absolutely nowhere as a character outside of her relation to the two male heroes, Scott Lang and Hank Pym.
Again, if this movie was simply called Ant-Man 2, Wasp being nothing more than an undeveloped supporting character wouldn't be an issue. Unfortunately, the movie was titled Ant-Man and the Wasp, so Marvel Studios has truly failed their first female protagonist. Let's compare this movie to the infamous Batman & Robin, which somehow did an even better job with two protagonists. Though Batman & Robin had a number of flaws, the character listed after the "and" in the title received just as much development as the first character listed. This was not the case for Ant-Man and the Wasp.
The fact that Batman & Robin somehow did a better job with two protagonists than the latest movie from Marvel Studios certainly has us concerned, especially about the future outings Marvel has planned for their female heroes in movies like Captain Marvel and Black Widow. Hopefully Captain Marvel can do better, assuming she won't have to share the spotlight with a male protagonist. Unfortunately, the horrible development and misleading marketing for Wasp in Ant-Man and the Wasp is enough to raise concern going forward in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel can do a lot better.