Joss Whedon Wanted Zooey Deschanel To Play The Wasp In An Early Draft Of The Avengers

"The Story of Marvel Studios" is a book littered with behind-the-scenes details about the formation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's easy to take the whole shared-universe movie conceit for granted now that it's been done in the MCU, but back in the late 2000s and early 2010s, this was still a relatively new, novel idea. At that time, the concept of having five superhero films cross over into one big team-up remained untested on the big screen. However, that's exactly what "The Avengers" delivered in 2012.

Joss Whedon may be persona non grata in Hollywood right now due to disturbing allegations from several actors who have worked with him as far back as his time as showrunner on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to as recently as his time as fill-in director on "Justice League." Yet Whedon's reputation for writing the stock "strong female character" was still intact when "The Avengers" was coming together, and apparently, this informed early drafts of his script, which centered on the Wasp.

In "The Story of Marvel Studios," producer Jeremy Latcham reiterates some of what we've already heard in the past about the development of "The Avengers." Specifically, that it was going to introduce the Wasp and that the original villain was Zeke Stane, the son of Jeff Bridges' character, Obadiah Stane, from "Iron Man." He also reveals a new tidbit, though, about who Whedon had in mind for the role of Wasp. He explains:

"It was all about The Wasp. He wanted to cast Zooey Deschanel. [Wasp] was the funniest character in the whole movie, and well-written."

What If ... The Wasp Had Been Introduced Earlier?

According to the book, part of the reason why Whedon's first draft of "The Avengers" script focused so much on the Wasp is that there was some question whether Scarlett Johansson would be available to reprise her role as Black Widow from "Iron Man 2." The book quotes him as saying:

"The Wasp happened because there was a short period where it looked like we weren't going to be able to get Scarlett [due to scheduling conflicts], so I was panicking. I thought, 'Hold on, we could do The Wasp.' Then I fell in love with that. But we did get Scarlett, and then I realized I had written this entire movie about The Wasp. Oops. I overcompensated there."

Ultimately, Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige and other producers like Latcham decided that they wanted to focus on assembling the existing Avengers, characters who had already been introduced onscreen pre-2012, as opposed to brand new heroes and villains like the Wasp and Zeke Stane. We never did see Zeke in the MCU, but the Wasp, of course, would later make her debut in "Ant-Man," where she would be portrayed by Evangeline Lilly.

Lilly recently said that she was just now starting to understand her character after several movies, so you could argue that the Wasp wound up being underdeveloped, even for the actress who played her. As for Deschanel, after appearing in films like "500 Days of Summer" and "The Happening," she shifted more to TV in the 2010s, starring on the Fox sitcom, "New Girl." 

I don't know if her Wasp would have been any better or worse, but in the spirit of Marvel's multiversal animated series, "What If...?," it's always interesting to imagine the possibilities.