The Wasp: the most fashionable Avenger of all

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Jul 5, 2018, 3:00 PM EDT

Janet Van Dyne might not have appeared in the Avengers movies, but in comics she's been with the team from the very start — first as the love interest of Hank Pym, who was Ant-Man at the time, who she married and later divorced before becoming the Avengers' leader. Janet has always been the best, and part of what makes her so great is how much she has changed and evolved over time from being somewhat shallow and occasionally immature (but good-intentioned) to perhaps the most well-adjusted Avenger. As recently as Uncanny Avengers, Janet walked into a team that was more or less an emotional wreck with complete confidence, shrugging off teammate Havok's malaise and talking about merchandising deals with the X-Men.

Superheroes tend to undergo a number of redesigns, but Janet is constantly reconsidering or updating her look and encourages others to do the same. When She-Hulk joined the Avengers after Janet insisted on a need for more female team members, Janet excitedly helped her design a new costume. Later, when she left the Avengers, it was to start her own company designing women's clothing.

An astute businesswoman and leader, one thing that has remained consistent in Janet's character has been her love of fashion. Even in the early days of the Avengers, she was well-known for walking away from work and heading off to the hairdresser, or for using her scientific know-how to design costumes for herself and the team. While characters like Captain America and Thor have kept fairly consistent looks throughout their history, the Wasp has had dozens of changes, from the original costume, to an inexplicably literal wasp/human hybrid, to a completely bizarre '90s-era neon look. Here are some of our favorite Wasp looks.

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The Original

Janet's original uniform was mostly designed by Hank, with additions made by Janet herself. In the early days, Janet and Hank were fighting Kirby-esque monsters and their looks reflected the times with classic bright colors. While this uniform didn't last long in the comics—changing shortly after Janet first joined the Avengers with Ant-Man in 1964—it's still one of her most iconic looks. The original outfit would eventually go on to be the basis for Nadia Van Dyne's current costume.


The Avengers Redesign

The first change Janet went through with her costume involved ditching the helmet and adopting a look slightly more in line with Hank Pym's Ant-Man costume. Her hairstyle also changed a few times during the months that Janet kept this ensemble, from a curly, short-haired look to a bob, and each cut gave the outfit a different vibe. As usual, the popping primary colors that are key for a great superhero costume are present here in red with black accents, and there's a sleekness to it that was missing from the original. While the Janet of this time was often at her most insecure, spending entire issues running around and bursting into tears because Hank isn't paying attention to her, it signaled a mere step on the way to her own independence. The one mistake made here came later, when a cap with a giant W on it was added. There's a lot to love about the inventive use of W's in Wasp designs later on, but this one was phoning it in, and it definitely brought down what was easily one of Janet's best looks.


The One-Piece

This outfit went through a couple color changes, appearing originally in red and then later in yellow, but either way it's golden. The simplicity of this costume is its strength, cutting down so significantly from the original's bulky pop-art-influenced sci-fi quality to the point where Janet looks almost like a completely different character save for the wings. Red always matches Janet's hair color well, and the high boots, while somewhat impractical, are a consistent staple we see her go back to again and again. While this look also didn't last very long, it still stands out during a time when Janet was stripping herself of excess baggage, and her costume needed to reflect that.


The Leader of the Avengers

When the Wasp divorced Hank, she had a brief period of grieving before she threw herself 110% back into her work with the Avengers. While her male teammates were nervous around her, believing she was more vulnerable and delicate than ever, in truth the Wasp really turned things around and used her sorrow to become a much more self-assured person overall. As the leader of the team, she felt a need to present a look that was both classic and slightly modified to fit into the times. Throughout her time as leader, Janet changed her outfit on many occasions, but this one was the staple for a few solid years. Truly, she was at her best as leader of the Avengers, and the seriousness with which she approached her job remains truly inspiring and unique among superheroes. This particular design fit in seamlessly with the outfits of the other Avengers while standing out on its own merits.


Silver & Red

This might have been just a change in the collared blue and red costume mentioned above, but there were a few things that made it stand out. Most importantly, during this timeframe, Janet developed a no-nonsense attitude, with her generally optimistic outlook on life and superheroics turning a bit more unforgiving than usual. Her temper flared up more, and she was often annoyed by anyone telling her what to do. It made sense, as her time with Hank had been somewhat disastrous for her self-esteem and she needed to reestablish herself outside of a life as “Hank's ex-wife.” She hadn't really incorporated silver or white into her design before, but it looks great. 


The Wasp

After the previously mentioned '90s outfit that could be boiled down to Janet slowly morphing into a wasp with some impractical cuts on a hot pink jumpsuit, we were introduced to a much classier version of the character in a black jumpsuit with a popping yellow front. Based more on the look of an actual wasp than anything else she had previously worn, this is the clear standout among Janet's many designs. Besides, the Janet that we're introduced to along with this uniform change is maybe her most serene. Long gone are the days of her temper flaring up and getting the better of her; here we see her develop a somewhat profound sense of inner peace. This costume has recently been modified once more, but the gold and black compliment her well.