Wasp was almost cast as a member of the Avengers, and Zooey Deschanel was the frontrunner for the job. Janet Van Dyne, a.k.a. The Wasp, was first introduced in Tales to Astonish #44 in June 1963 by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Ernie Hart.
She has been a vital component of the Marvel Universe and was one of the original members of the Avengers. The character is a fan favourite, and she was heavily featured in the 2010 animated series Avengers: Earth Mightiest Heroes, indicating that Marvel had hopes of introducing her into the MCU early on.
Wasp and Ant-Man were, however, absent from the cinematic adaptation of The Avengers; and were replaced by Black Widow and Hawkeye. Many speculated that part of the reason was to save Ant-Man and Wasp for Edgar Wright’s then-in-development Ant-Man feature; and the studio didn’t want to introduce the character before their own. Joss Whedon, the director of The Avengers, included Wasp in one iteration of the script.
Zooey Deschanel was Whedon’s first choice to play the Wasp; according to the recently released book The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, published by Slashfilm. When it became clear that Scarlett Johansson would not be able to reprise her role as Black Widow in The Avengers owing to schedule issues; Wasp was added to the script. Wasp was the funniest character in the movie; according to Marvel producer Jeremy Latcham. The following are the two quotes:
“But we did get Scarlett, and then I realized I had written this entire movie about The Wasp.”
Jeremy Latcham: “It was all about The Wasp. He wanted to cast Zooey Deschanel. [Wasp] was the funniest character in the whole movie, and well-written.”
Joss Whedon: “The Wasp happened because there was a short period where it looked like we weren’t going to be able to get Scarlett [due to scheduling conflicts], so I was panicking. I thought, ‘Hold on, we could do The Wasp’. Then I fell in love with that. But we did get Scarlett, and then I realized I had written this entire movie about The Wasp. Oops. I overcompensated there.”
Two characters have taken on the mantle of Wasp in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Janet Van Dyne, the original comic book version of the Wasp; is represented by Michelle Pfeiffer; while Hope Van Dyne, her daughter; is played by Evangeline Lilly.
While Hope aided The Avengers during the events of Avengers: Endgame; she has yet to become an official member of the team. With the upcoming threat of Kang in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania she is likely now more connected to the other heroes. However, if the character was introduced in the MCU prior to Ant-Man; it could have had a massive ripple effect on the entire franchise.
If Deschanel had gone on for The Avengers, her career could have taken a very different turn. The film began production in the summer of 2011; which would have prohibited Deschanel from accepting the main role in New Girl; which is likely her most famous role to date.
New Girl was a breakout vehicle for a number of actors, including Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, Lamorne Morris, and Hannah Simone; and it’s doubtful that it would have gotten off the ground if it hadn’t been for Deschanel. While Deschanel has yet to play a superhero; there are plenty of opportunities with characters like Sue Storm from the Fantastic Four for Marvel and DC’s Zatanna heading to the big screen.