Sure, The Avengers movie -- which will be released in the U.S. this Friday after already breaking box office records all over the world this past weekend -- may be your most eagerly anticipated movie event of the year, but some fans might be just a little let-down by the absence of one of the team's founding members in the comics, Janet Van Dyne, AKA the Wasp. Turns out, however, the heroine almost made the cut...In a piece from the New York Daily News about Marvel's The Avengers - to give the movie its full, official U.S. title - it was revealed that Van Dyne, one of the two comic book founding Avengers to be missing from the movie alongside Ant-Man, was in an earlier version of the script for the movie, even before Joss Whedon got involved:

There was a version of the script, back when Johansson wasn't involved, that featured a female superhero named the Wasp. Whedon had to scrap that script, and was making changes to his final version even as the effects people were starting work on the 40-minute battle that closes the movie. "Trying to figure out the way you want to introduce all those characters, that was stuff we were still tweaking in the edit," says Whedon.

If it was before Scarlett Johansson's involvement, then this must have been a very early version of the script -- potentially one of the first passes from screenwriter Zak Penn, who has said more than once that he took a lot of inspiration for the project from Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's The Ultimates -- a comic that, of course, featured Janet Van Dyne fairly prominently. Rumors were buzzing that the Wasp might be a part of The Avengers movie a few years back when Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria was seen leaving Marvel Comics offices. It turns out she was meeting with Marvel regarding "a different movie," though.

This most recent excising of the Wasp is the latest in a long series of humiliations for the one-time leader of the Avengers, coming after deaths in both the mainstream Marvel and Ultimate universes during event storylines (Secret Invasion and Ultimatum, respectively) and the usurping of her superhero identity by others as a result (Seriously, Hank Pym, taking on the identity of your ex-wife after she dies isn't a moving tribute, it's just creepy). With every other Marvel hero seemingly eager to redeem their return ticket from the afterlife (the Human Torch, Thor, the Winter Soldier, Captain America and so on, and so on), would it be too much to hope that at least one Janet Van Dyne lived on in some version of the Marvel universe outside of the animated incarnations? Apparently so -- but, on the plus side, maybe the booted movie take on the character will live on in an Avengers sequel or spin-off at some point in the future.

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