In the 10 years since the Marvel Cinematic Universe was born, fans have seen a great number of wonders on screen. A man who can fly in an Iron Suit, a doctor who can manipulate time and space, and most recently a Titan who can wipe out half the universe with a snap of his fingers. And while many these feats have been achieved on a grand scale, there is also a very tiny universe at work in the MCU, a universe Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, calls the “Quantum Realm”.
So what exactly is this quantum realm? If you seen Ant-Man & the Wasp, you know that the quantum realm plays a key role in that film. It could also play a role in Avengers 4, especially in light of events from Avengers: Infinity War, but more on that later. First, let’s look at the comic book roots of the Quantum Realm and how it has appeared in MCU films, so far. Then we’ll jump into how the Quantum Realm affected Ant-Man and the Wasp and how it could lead straight into Avengers 4.
Quantum Realm in the Comics
In the comics, the Quantum Realm was known as the Microverse. The Microverse first appeared on the scene in 1943 in Captain America Vol. 1 #25. Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes both allowed themselves to be shrunken down in size so they could rescue a princess from the Microverse. Doctor Doom was then transported to the Microverse in 1963, in Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #10. When the Fantastic Four were also transported there and then trapped by Doom, the Ant-Man had to shrink down and rescue them. This took place six issues later, in Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #16.
What’s really unique about the Microverse in the comics, is that it’s not another plane of existence, it’s actually an entire universe that contains many worlds. For instance, Sub-Atomica, K’ai, Homeworld, and Tok are planets that actually exist inside the Microverse. So far, this is very different from the Quantum Realm that we’ve seen in the MCU.
Quantum Realm in the MCU
The Quantum Realm was first introduced in Ant-Man, back in 2015. During the film, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) explained to Scott (Paul Rudd) and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) that Janet, the former Wasp and Hope’s mother, had gone sub-atomic and was stranded in the Quantum Realm. Hank told Scott that story as a warning for him not to go sub-atomic, because he too would become stranded.
To destroy Yellowjacket (Corey Stoll), however, Scott did go sub-atomic, which thrust him into the Quantum Realm. While floating through the Quantum Realm, he saw a vast landscape of colors and shapes, crystalline figures and even the shadow of a possible Janet van Dyne. Scott escaped by placing one of his enlargening discs into his suit regulator. His escape gave Hank hope that Janet could be rescued, which brings us to Ant-Man & the Wasp — spoilers for that film follow.
Ant-Man & the Wasp
In Ant-Man & the Wasp, the Quantum Realm plays a huge role in the film. Hank has built a ship that can traverse the sub-atomic level, safely, in order to find his wife, Janet. The entire film revolves around Scott’s messages from Janet and Hank’s plan to rescue her. Other forces want Hank’s Quantum Realm tech, and danger ensues.
Hank does successfully rescue Janet, who was able to stay alive within the Quantum Realm for nearly 30 years. Janet comes out with superpowers and is able to heal Ghost. It’s a powerful restoration, all thanks to this mystical realm of subatomic particles.
To Infinity War & Beyond
So, how could the Quantum Realm affect Avengers 4 and other MCU films? First of all, the Quantum Realm doesn’t just exist inside the Ant-Man films — it exists inside all Marvel films — because when something is introduced in one film it has significance in all the films.
The whole idea of multiple realms was further explored in Doctor Strange. When the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) was teaching Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) about the multiverse, she showed him countless realms and dimensions beyond his own. This included the Quantum Realm. It also included the Dark Dimension, where the film’s nemesis came from, Dormammu.
We also caught a glimpse of another realm in Avengers: Infinity War. When Thanos (Josh Brolin) and young Gamora (Zoe Saldana/Ariana Greenblatt) were together at the end of the film, they were in a place outside of space and time. Pym said that in the Quantum Realm, space and time don’t exist — so Thanos and Gamora could have been there. They also could have been inside the Soul Stone, especially since they were surrounded by rich reds and orange colors.
The post-credit scene in Ant-Man and The Wasp showed Scott going back into the Quantum Realm to get more restorative quantum particles for Ghost. While he was in there, Thanos snapped his fingers and everyone turned to dust. So, essentially the Realm saved Scott’s life and will allow him to participate and possibly help save the Avengers in the next film.
Ant-Man & the Wasp is currently in theaters.