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Marvel's Wasp: Every One Of Her Powers And Abilities Explained

The Wasp is a true-blue Avenger, as wondrous as she is winsome. Many women have operated under this mantle over the years, the most famous being Hope Van Dyne, Janet Van Dyne, and Nadia Van Dyne. Fans around the world know the former two, thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe: In the "Ant-Man and the Wasp" movies, Hope is played by Evangeline Lilly, while Janet is played by Michelle Pfeiffer. They bring as much power, punch, and pizzazz to the silver screen as they do to the printed page.

Though the Wasp is more famous than ever, many fans of the MCU and casual readers of Marvel Comics could use a little refresher on all the impressive things these characters can do. While the three main Wasps have similar powers, they also have unique talents, gadgets, and histories. Moreover, they have plenty of skills that have yet to work their way into an MCU movie. Snag yourself some Pym Particles and get those wings ready for some serious flapping, becomes it's time to explore the splendid superpowers and astonishing abilities of the Wasp. 

No fly swatter can match her

Every version of the Wasp can shrink down to the size of their namesake, thanks to the use of Pym Particles. This is one of the most useful powers in the Marvel universe. Being as tiny as an insect makes subterfuge, sneak attacks, and getting both into and out of tight spots a breeze. Janet and Nadia Van Dyne can actually shrink to various sizes, including those within the typical human range and those invisible to the naked eye — though the latter category can be mentally dangerous for Hope. Janet sets herself apart from her fellow Wasps in having used Pym Particles to make herself enormously tall, like her husband Hank Pym. Nadia, meanwhile, can make others smaller, thanks to the shrink-ray technology in her costume's gauntlets. Hope's no slouch either: She can enlarge and shrink things by firing Pym Particle Discs from one of her wrist launchers.

Originally, all three Wasps require the use of external stimuli to change their height, such as wearing a size-changing suit or breathing Pym Particle gas. While that's still the case for the MCU's version of Janet, comic book Janet's body is now its own Pym Particle factory, meaning she can adjust her height independently. Nadia also possesses that skill: She has Pym Particles permanently lurking around her circulatory system, as established in 2017's "The Unstoppable Wasp" #4.

This bug zaps back

Other than a stick pin Janet eventually discards after her first few comic book appearances, none of the Wasps have a literal stinger, like their namesake does. But they do have powerful blasts that not only compensate — they give them more range than a conventional wasp stinger ever could. For Janet and Nadia, these are their bio-electric blasts. They're powered by the energy they create when changing size and the natural electricity within their bodies. As 2010's "The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z" #13 observes, Janet's previous "Wasp Stings" rely on weaponizing air and projectiles. That's pretty cool, but it's no surprise she never looks back after Hank Pym puts her on the electric, and finally bio-electric, route. 

Conversely, the electrical discharges Hope uses in fights don't appear to rely on bio-electricity, but on an unspecified power source within the Wasp costume itself. Regardless of the mechanics, the "stingers" of all three Wasps prove quite effective against some pretty tough foes, even when they're at their signature tiny height.

The strength of a wasp

While one might think that shrinking to the size of a bug might lead to a serious strength drop, that's never been the case for the Wasp. Originally, Janet Van Dyne is almost as strong in wasp-size as she is at her normal stature. But a serum Hank Pym devises for her years later actually makes her strength grow the more she reduces her size. Growing to the size of a building also gives Janet a significant strength boost: According to "The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z," it's enough to allow her to pick up weights of 30 tons.

Due to her use of Pym Particles, Nadia retains her normal strength when shrunk to a tiny size. Hope, meanwhile, can punch with force analogous to a bullet's at max strength, thanks to her cells and energy being hyper-compressed. This also makes her quite difficult to hurt — she might be even more capable of withstanding injury than Nadia or Janet.

A winged Avenger

Given that the Wasp can shrink to the size of her namesake, it's only natural she has the wings to back it up. In the MCU, Janet and Hope's wings are part of their suits. This isn't the case for the comics' version of Jan, however: Her wings actually grow from her body when she shrinks, thanks to artificial cells Hank Pym inserts into her back. Over time, Jan discovers that even shrinking an inch beneath her natural height of 5'4” is enough to make the wings pop out. During "The Crossing" storyline, Janet's body temporarily becomes much more insect-like, to the point that her wings are always out, even when she hasn't shrunk at all.

Hope and Nadia's wings, in contrast, are a collapsible part of their suit, and can thus be used no matter how big or small the two Wasps are. Interestingly, Hope doesn't use her wings for flight when at her normal height in the MCU. However, she does use them as an offensive weapon while at that size, as seen when she first fights Ghost in "Ant-Man and The Wasp."

Don't try to race the Wasp

They may not be as fast as their fellow Avenger Quicksilver, but none of the Wasps are likely to lose a race any time soon. Thanks to Hank's attribute-boosting serum, Janet of the comics can clock a flight speed of 38 mph on her best day. That's faster than Olympian Usain Bolt's top speed, according to The New York Times.

Given that Nadia has not taken the serum that made Janet faster, it's likely she's somewhat slower than her predecessor. Beating them both by a mile — several, in fact — is Hope of the MCU. A featurette focused on Hope's remarkable wings claims her top flying speed is a staggering 125 mph. It's currently unknown whether Janet's film counterpart can match this pace, as her Wasp suit is decades older than Hope's and more similar to Hank Pym's original Ant-Man suit.

The Wasp doesn't just sting

Though the Wasps' impressive strength at small size makes them pretty formidable, it's the way they use it that makes a real difference. Like many Avengers, Janet's a graduate of the unofficial Captain America school of hand-to-hand training. Having one of the best fighters (without superpowers) in the Marvel Universe as your teacher tends to make you pretty fearsome in a fight. On top of that, as "The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe" specifies, Jan's ability to fight at varying sizes gives her a fighting style that's as effective as it is unpredictable.

While Janet receives most of her combat training in adulthood, that's not the case for Hope or Nadia, who both began learning how to fight when they were still children. Hope begins disciplining herself in martial arts shortly after Janet disappears into the Quantum Realm. Nadia received extensive training in many different fighting styles during her childhood in the Red Room, including Krav Maga.

The Wasp's intellect never shrinks

While Janet Van Dyne isn't a scientist in the comics, she certainly is in the movies. Aside from her years spent studying and working in science, Janet is among the biggest experts on the Quantum Realm, due to the many years she spends stranded there. She's also the co-creator of Hope Van Dyne's Wasp suit, and uses her scientific expertise to help Hank and Hope get the job done. Her daughter, unsurprisingly, shares her scientific leanings: She not only finishes the new Wasp suit Hank and Janet started making together, she also co-creates the Quantum Tunnel that allows Janet to come home. Hope also has great corporate know-how, having once chaired the board of Pym Technologies.

In the comics, Nadia Van Dyne stands out as another science-savvy Wasp. She taught herself many different scientific disciplines in the Red Room, including Pym Particle usage. Don't count the comic book version of Janet out, however: While she may not be a scientific genius, she more than makes up for it with her keen tactical mind. She demonstrates its power on the countless occasions she leads the Avengers in battle.

Possession, courtesy of quantum entanglement

Wasps aren't typically associated with mind-reading and possession. So it's not really a surprise that neither Hope, Nadia nor the comic book version of Janet have any psychic powers to speak of. However, the movie version of Janet does — but not quite in the way famous mind-controllers of the Marvel Universe like Jean Grey do.

In "Ant-Man and the Wasp," Janet bonds with Scott Lang through quantum entanglement. She then manages to enter Scott's mind when Hope and Hank Pym temporarily activate their Quantum Tunnel. Janet readjusts the tunnel with Hank so it doesn't close again prematurely and tracks down her own body in the Quantum Realm so Hank can find her. It's worth noting that Janet can only use this power on people she's quantum entangled with, however. It's also unclear whether she can control its duration. 

That not-so-magic touch

Wasps are famous for their brutal sting, but you don't ever hear about them trying to fix your wound after it's been inflicted. Janet Van Dyne of the MCU, however, can fix what's ailing you. It turns out that 30 years in the Quantum Realm really leaves a mark. In Janet's case, this means superpowers — including the ability to cure certain maladies.

Janet first uses her unique healing powers to help Hank Pym. When the Quantum Realm becomes too much for his mind to handle, she gets him accustomed with a mere touch. Then, outside the Quantum Realm, Janet proves she can heal in a much broader sense when she cures Ghost's molecular disequilibrium. Sure, Ghost loses her quantum phasing powers as a result, but it's a small price to pay for getting her molecules stabilized — especially since she's been using those powers for evil. Ironically, Ghost and her guardian Bill Foster intended to use Janet's quantum energy to cure Ghost — but their method could have killed Janet in the process.

Creativity in spades

The Wasps are defined by creativity as much as anything else. This creativity is impressively flexible: The Wasps put it towards everything from the hard sciences to the arts. Nadia, for instance, is a brilliant inventor. She's also been known to demonstrate the solid ballet skills she picked up in the Red Room.

The Wasp most associated with creative prowess in the arts is Janet Van Dyne of the comics. Her least talked-about skill is her grasp of the written word, but it shouldn't be underestimated: Her "The Coming of the Avengers" screenplay gets quite a bit of praise from Hollywood executives. Granted, one those execs wants to make all kinds of changes to it, but we can't really consider that indicative of Janet's writing skills — said exec's proposed alterations aren't exactly for the better. Although we can't deny the inherent charm of reimagining Ant-Man arch-nemesis Egghead as a literal egg-themed villain — giant eggbeater and all.

Janet's other major creative skill is much more widely known. She's famously held a passion for fashion since her earliest days, and brainstorms many of the costumes she and her teammates wear over the years. Not every design is a winner, mind you, but the Wasp's ingenuity always shines through, even in her failures.