If You’re a Marvel Completist, Ant-Man and the Wasp Is the Key to Avengers
There’s a moment in Ant-Man and the Wasp when Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang asks Hope and Hank Pym (Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas) if they just put the word “quantum” in front of everything. He’s right, and it would seem like a great self-aware joke, if it wasn’t so annoyingly true. This is a movie stuffed with so much nonsensical techno-babble that it makes Star Trek sound like Steinbeck. What’s even funnier is that the ever important Ant-Man Quantum Realm isn’t even in the comics, where it’s known as the Microverse, or "a dimension that can be reached from the Earth dimension by shrinking with Pym Particles and thus compressing the person's matter to a certain point, thereby forcing it through an artificially created nexus into the other universe."
You see, in Ant-Man, Marvel can’t use the term Microverse because it doesn’t own the rights to the Micronauts, where the tiny world was explored. So instead, we’re stuck with the Quantum Realm, which plays a major role in the latest Marvel movie and the future of the Avengers as a whole.
In the first Ant-Man movie, we learn that the first person to visit this Quantum Realm was Pym’s wife Janet, who shrunk down in order to stop a Soviet missile. Unfortunately, she ended up getting trapped there, and Pym dedicated his life to saving her from the Quantum Realm. Ant Man and the Wasp finds Lang stuck on house arrest after getting caught using his shrinking suit to help Captain America in Civil War. Between killing time building forts with his daughter and playing an electronic drum set, Lang finds himself mysteriously connected with Janet through the Quantum Realm, where he traveled in the first movie and managed to escape.
It turns out Hank and Hope have spent the last few years developing a Quantum Tunnel to travel to the Quantum Realm and save Janet. They recruit Lang to help with his strange connection and along the way they’re harassed by Hannah John-Kamen’s menacing Ghost and a bumbling southern gangster played by Walton Goggins (both of whom are more annoyances than actual villains). Especially compared to the apocalyptic Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a breezy, inconsequential entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the movie, for the most part, is a light comedic detour, its substance can mostly be found in the Quantum Realm, where Marvel completists might find a key to the Avengers' future.
In the comics, the Quantum Realm has been visited often over the decades—including a brief plot by Thanos to conquer it. Quantum physicist and Marvel consultant Dr. Spiros Michalakis once wrote in a blog post about the power of the Quantum Realm:
"If someone could go to a place where the laws of physics as we know them were not yet formed, at a place where the arrow of time was broken and the fabric of space was not yet woven, the powers of such a master of the quantum realm would only be constrained by their ability to come back to the same (or similar) reality from which they departed. All the superheroes of Marvel and DC Comics combined would stand no chance against Ant-Man with a malfunctioning regulator."
With that in mind, it seems the Quantum Realm could play a major role in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ant-Man and the Wasp offers some more insight into exactly what this could be. When Pym returns from the Quantum Realm with Janet, she’s developed mysterious powers that help her control the fabric of our known dimension.
While the specifics of these powers are only teased in Ant-Man and the Wasp, the film ends with a huge post credits twist. In that scene, Lang is in the Quantum Realm on a research mission for Hank, Janet, and Hope. But just before Hope can hit the button to bring Lang out of the Quantum Realm, the team in our dimension is turned to dust through Thanos’s Infinity War snap. When the movie ends, Lang is still alive, drifting alone in the Quantum Realm. It’s unclear if he was safe because he was in the Quantum Realm or if he was just another survivor, but left within the Quantum Realm leaves Lang with a chance to unlock some key to undoing Thanos’s apocalypse.
One theory is that Lang could find Captain Marvel in the Quantum Realm. As one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe, Captain Marvel could theoretically survive a trip into the Quantum Realm. Is that where she’s been hiding this whole time!? Or he could uncover some sort of doorway, which will lead him to another dimension where Captain Marvel is. It’s also important to keep in mind that Doctor Strange can also travel to the Quantum Realm and in fact briefly traveled through it in his first movie.
Since a number of theories about Avengers 4 involve the one outcome that Doctor Strange saw in Infinity War, it’s likely that he—teamed up with Ant-Man—can use the Quantum Realm to stop Thanos and reverse his dusting.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.