Evangeline Lilly spreads her wings as Wasp
By RICK BENTLEY | Tribune News Service | Published: July 9, 2018
PASADENA, Calif. - Evangeline Lilly’s character of Hope van Dyne has gone through some changes from her introduction in “Ant-Man” to the twin billing of “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” When she made the first film, Lilly described Hope as one of the darkest and dourest characters she had ever played. That was based on Hope having to deal with grief, parental issues and the need to prove she was as good as any man in the business world.
Maybe the biggest downer in Hope’s life was not getting to slip into the suit that would allow her to shrink to miniscule size to fight crime. It was Paul Rudd’s character of Scott Lang who got to be the size-shifting hero. Now The Wasp is dishing out as much - if not more - punishment to the bad guys than her tiny counterpart.
“It was just fun to finally get to see her take on the mantle, because this is something that she’s been ready and willing to do basically her whole life. Her parents are both superheroes and she was rearing to get in that suit for an entire film. And we never got there,” Lilly says. “And so to actually see her fighting in that moment was wonderful.”
Lilly’s character already has put on the Wasp suit when Lang gets pulled into helping Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope complete their plans to save Pym’s wife, Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), from the sub-atomic world, where she’s been stranded for decades. Going smaller than an atom is a tough enough task, but Wasp and Ant-Man also have to deal with a mysterious figure known only as Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen).
Getting to play a costumed hero is nothing new for Lilly, as the Canadian actress took on the role of Tauriel in two of the “Hobbit” movies: “The Desolation of Smaug” and “The Battle of the Five Armies.” The films came after a short hiatus following Lilly’s work on the mind-twisting ABC series “Lost.” Her wait to get to be the costumed hero of Wasp almost didn’t take as long as the three years since “Ant-Man” was released in 2015.
Originally, Wasp was to be introduced in 2016 through the Marvel Comics film “Captain America: Civil War.” Lilly wasn’t thrilled with the idea of having to wait three years, but she was just as disappointed she would make her Wasp debut in a film filled with superheroes.
“I never expressed it at the time, because of course, how can you? But secretly I was like . ’She’s not going to get an origins film. It’s OK. I’m just stoked to be here, dude.’ Then when I got a call saying we’ve decided not to put you in ’Civil War’,” Lilly says. “There was this moment, I could tell where the feeling in the room was like . ’I’m sorry.’
“I was like, ’no-no-no.’”
That’s when the executives at Marvel told Lilly the plan was to dedicate a film to introducing the female superhero, and they didn’t want her just to be a side note in a larger story. Getting to put on the suit was a big enough joy for Lilly, but she was even more excited to see her character’s name in the title.
Kevin Feige, president of production at Marvel Studios, explains the idea of making the follow-up film to “Ant-Man” about both heroes was part of the thinking while the first movie was being made. The consensus was a sequel needed to finally let the audience see Lilly’s character suit up and be the hero.
Becoming the latest hero in the Marvel movie world is merely a continuation of the kind of work Lilly has done since she interrupted her studies of international relations and political science when the opportunity came along to audition for “Lost.”
What connects the characters she has played from “Lost” to “The Hobbit” to “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is they have all been strong women. Lilly has always given her father credit for the kind of roles she goes after as he told her that she was as capable as any man.
That point of view is being passed on to those who see her work. She’s been teaching her son a different lesson when it comes to movies and TV shows where heroes have to deal with villains.
“I have a 7-year-old son and he loves violent movies. When he talks about good guys and bad guys in movies, I always feel a responsibility to clarify for him that there really is no such thing as a bad guy. They’re only just good guys, who have made so many bad choices. They’ve forgotten how to make good choices,” Lilly says. “A true hero’s job is to remind them of their goodness. Not to annihilate them, to kill them. It’s to help them redeem themselves.
“I think that’s applicable to life. Superhero stories are fun and they’re a totally different world, but what I think is cool and is to have redeemable villains, you’re teaching children that if you encounter somebody that might have a different opinion than you, that doesn’t mean they’re a villain. If they have a different objective than you, it doesn’t mean you should attack them. Maybe you want to try to understand them first.”
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