Joss Whedon had big plans to make Zooey Deschanel star as The Wasp in the original Avenger film, but the return of Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow put that dream to rest.
Hank Pym/Ant-Man and Janet Van Dyne/The Wasp have been mainstays in Marvel comics for decades, including as founding members of the Avengers. In 2012, The Marvel Cinematic Universe released their first team-up movie, The Avengers, which left the two characters out of the film and replaced them with Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Now Joss Whedon, director of The Avengers, has revealed (via Screen Rant) that he had The Wasp in the film as a founding team member and he had an actor chosen for the role, the New Girl, herself, Zooey Deschanel.
According to the excerpt from the new book, The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Whedon revealed that he was afraid they weren’t going to be able to get Scarlett Johansson to return to The Avengers due to scheduling conflicts; so the director set to writing a new script without her. Instead, the result focused on Janet Van Dyne’s The Wasp, who the director said was very well written, the funniest character in the film, and one of the film’s primary subjects. He also revealed that Zooey Deschanel was his choice to put on the wings and that he loved the script and went a little too far with trying to overcompensate for the absence of Natasha Romanoff, AKA Black Widow.
What the script ended up with sans Zooey Deschanel was a story that actually ended up centering heavily on the relationship between the two characters added to the team specifically for the movie. With Hawkeye being mind controlled by Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and acting against the Avengers, it ended up being up to Black Widow to knock some sense into him (literally). There isn’t any word on what project Scarlett Johansson was in the middle of that would have caused the scheduling conflict; her IMDb page lists only Hitchcock coming out in 2012 at the same time, so it easily could have been her role as Janet Leigh that nearly completely changed the MCU.
Zooey Deschanel’s career was made up of minor roles in big things, like appearances in Bones and Weeds, or leading parts in big productions like 500 Days of Summer, Yes Man, and The Happening. However, her career-defining role as of yet is as Jessica Day on the series New Girl, following a bubbly and naive teacher in Los Angeles jumping into a new apartment with two men following a breakup. Had she taken on the role of Janet Van Dyne, we never would have gotten Zooey Deschanel as Jessica Day, or possibly even Nick Miller, Winston, or the always hilarious Schmidt.
Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfieffer) were retconned for the MCU, being replaced by Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Janet’s daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly). The two elder versions of Ant-Man and The Wasp were rewritten as late 70s, early 80s heroes, with the latter, stuck in the quantum realm for decades. Even the origins of Ultron (James Spader) were retconned from a Pym creation to a Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) brainchild. The inclusion of Zooey Deschanel in The Avengers would have drastically changed the MCU, maybe for good, maybe not, but the question we have is, who did Joss Whedon have in mind for a young Hank Pym?