WARNING – Spoilers for Ant-Man and the Wasp
Ant-Man and the Wasp may not spend much time on the Quantum Realm, but the dimension has a number of major ramifications for the future of the MCU. Though Hank Pym gives Hope van Dyne (and the audience) a quick recap of what happened before Ant-Man in regard to Janet's supposed-death, Marvel's new movie doesn't explain much about the alternate realm that the plot effectively revolves around. Luckily, Ant-Man 2 connects to Avengers: Infinity War thanks to the first end credits scene, meaning Avengers 4 will need to address Scott Lang escaping from the Quantum Realm.
It's not just next year's Avengers film that will involve the Quantum Realm, however. Captain Marvel will also visit the Quantum Realm and it seems like a future Doctor Strange film could also connect to the movie. Beyond that, the powers of Ghost and Janet both imply that there's a lot more to the dimension than deadly tardigrades and trippy visuals.
While the Ant-Man franchise may be relatively lighthearted and standalone, Ant-Man and the Wasp and the Quantum Realm could significantly shape Phase 4 of the MCU.
- This Page: The Quantum Realm in the Comics and MCU
- Page 2: The Quantum Realm in Avengers and Beyond
The Quantum Realm in the Comics and MCU
Doctor Strange, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and, of course, both Ant-Man films have dealt with the alternate dimensions of the MCU. Even the Thor movies touch on another plane of existence, meaning there's a lot to mine in future films, whether Earth-based or in the cosmic realm. Likewise, the Marvel Comics multiverse is packed with other worlds and parallel dimensions. Rather than the Quantum Realm, 1943's Captain America Comics saw sci-fi writer Ray Cummings adapt his microscopic universe for Marvel Comics. The idea of tiny universes continued to pop up (mostly in Fantastic Four stories) over the decades, but the coining of the "Microverse" for Marvel's Micronauts comics locked in the term that's still used today.
With Paramount making a Micronauts movie for Hasbro, Marvel can't take advantage of the characters or the Microverse. Instead, Ant-Man introduced the Quantum Realm as the subatomic world that Janet and Scott visit when they shrink beyond the recommended limits. The loose idea comes from Brian Michael Bendis' run of Avengers in 2013, where Janet van Dyne was discovered in the Microverse after believed to be dead for years. The idea of it factoring into the future of the films is even reinforced by the new Ant-Man and the Wasp comic which features Scott Lang and Nadia van Dyne exploring the Microverse and the beings that dwell there.
As in the comics, Ant-Man and the Wasp teases many more layers to the Quantum Realm, including an apparent cache of supplies that Janet is able to take advantage of. Unfortunately, Ant-Man 2 glosses over most of these revelations and surprisingly focuses very little on the Quantum Realm. But between Scott being once again stuck, and the new superpowers on display, it's clear that Marvel is just getting started with the Quantum Realm.
The Captain Marvel Connection
Last summer, Kevin Feige teased Captain Marvel and other future films visiting the Quantum Realm, proving the idea introduced in Ant-Man would go way beyond the small-scale movie. That was reiterated recently when Feige discussed the Quantum Realm and how director Peyton Reed has seeded ideas that will continue to flourish in the MCU.
We don't know much about how Captain Marvel will unfold, but it will mirror Ant-Man's opening scene by exploring the Cold War era of the MCU and S.H.I.E.L.D. Aside from meeting young Nick Fury and Phil Coulson, the Kree-Skrull War will be a big focus of the film. Given the similar time period, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s heavy involvement, and a focus on science and the cosmic, there's plenty of places where the Quantum Realm could factor in.
The origin of Ghost shows that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been studying quantum-technology for awhile. Thanks to Dr. Bill Foster, they're able to help Ava harness her new abilities. We don't know exactly when this took place, but Foster and his expertise in all things quantum clearly have a history at S.H.I.E.L.D. that could be touched on in Captain Marvel. Ant-Man 2 even opens the door for Laurence Fishburne to return to the MCU thanks to the incredible de-aging technology employed in various flashbacks.
Avengers 4 concept art has shown Ant-Man in action, so he somehow escapes his fate from the end credits scene. We also know Captain Marvel has been away since her film. Theories have ranged from deep space to the Quantum Realm, and the latter could prove to be true if Carol Danvers ends up being Scott's ticket back to reality. Regardless of how things unfold, it's clear that the Quantum Realm will play some role in both Captain Marvel and Avengers 4.
The Quantum Realm in Avengers 4
While the Wasp was almost in Captain America: Civil War, the wait was worth it for Evangeline Lilly's superhero. The Wasp gets a number of thrilling actions scenes, showing how Hope's fight training and her more advanced tech makes her a much more competent hero than Scott. Though she suffers Thanos' wrath by the end of the film, we know she'll be back next year and should have a big future beyond that.
Unfortunately, the Wasp isn't in Avengers 4 much according to Lilly. Thanks to the end credits scene in Ant-Man and the Wasp, it's clear her absence is due to her character being killed in Thanos' plan. But with Ant-Man being involved in the fight, that means the Quantum Realm will need to factor into Avengers 4. Not only will Scott need to escape, but clearly some explanation of the Quantum Realm will be involved so the rescue will make sense.
From Captain Marvel to the minds of Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, and Shuri, there's no shortage of ways the Quantum Realm could be accessed. When it is, its vast secrets and source of power will finally be revealed to the rest of the MCU. The Ant-Man franchise keeps things contained, but Stark alone will likely be excited by the possibilities of the Quantum Realm and its energy. In fact, the revelation of alternate timelines and their scientific root could have a massive impact on the plots of upcoming films and TV shows.
Quantum Energy and Phase 4
Set photos for Avengers 4 have teased time travel may be involved in the film, whether through tech, the Infinity Gauntlet, or the time warp teased before Scott goes into the Quantum Realm. Of course, there's other explanations for the images, but with so many heroes dead who have future Marvel Studios movies in the works, something will be bringing characters back to life. The leading theory is that alternate timelines will factor into Avengers 4. We could see the return of certain villains in Avengers 4 due to the multiple timelines, and the re-exploration of the Quantum Realm could see someone like Yellowjacket come back.
With an Eternals movie in the works and the expansion of the cosmic side of the MCU, bringing the Quantum Realm into the main Avengers franchise also sets up a lot of potential. The surface has only been scratched so far, but clearly there's all sorts of alternate dimensions to be harnessed in the MCU. Ghost Rider in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is implied to be powered by one of these dimensions, as is the magic of Doctor Strange. Both Janet and Ghost draw power from the Quantum Realm, and it's easy to hypothesize how everything from the abilities of Asgardians to the Pym Particles themselves could be tied to these other dimensions.
Using that concept, Marvel has an unlimited supply of origins for heroes and villains. If Avengers 4 starts exploring new dimensions, other entities and characters could be discovered that spin into new films. On top of that, opening these worlds could spill over into the main plane and begin granting individuals new powers. From what Kevin Feige has said about the Quantum Realm, it seems it won't just be a location of importance, but rather a source of future stories. New characters, new powers, and new types of narratives could all pour out of these alternate worlds. And by doing so, Marvel can use the ideas in Ant-Man and the Wasp to continue tying all of its fantastical plots back into the sci-fi ideas which have formed the basis of the MCU since Iron Man.