Ant-Man is now in theaters, bringing Marvel's smallest Avenger to the big screen with an origin tale that features a surprising amount of weird science. In director Peyton Reed's film, brilliant scientist Hank Pym's (Michael Douglas) "Pym Particles" are more than just a shrinking formula: they are, in fact, a portal to an entirely different realm, known in Marvel Comics lore as "The Microverse," but now referred to in the MCU as "The Quantum Realm."
The Ant-Man movie only scratches the surface of what The Quantum Realm is all about, but the nature of this new dimension in the MCU - a place beyond space and time - is one that will have a major impact on Marvel's Phase Three movies. So we are taking the liberty of discussing The Quantum Realm's Future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Needless to say: MAJOR SPOILERS for Ant-Man follow.
Feige Says So
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige already teased that The Quantum Realm would be a big deal in the MCU's future, before many fans ever saw Ant-Man and had an idea of what it even was.
For a recap, here's what Feige said in an interview earlier this year:
...the truth is, there is so much in Ant-Man: introducing a new hero, introducing a very important part of technology in the Marvel universe, the Pym particles. Ant-Man getting on the Avengers’ radar in this film and even – this is the weirdest part, you shouldn’t really talk about it because it won’t be apparent for years – but the whole notion of the quantum realm and the whole notion of going to places that are so out there, they are almost mind-bendingly hard to fathom. It all plays into Phase Three.
To expand upon what Feige is saying, one only need look at the change of terminology when describing this new dimension. "The Microverse," is a name that clearly leans on the idea of shrinking and changing size (as Ant-Man is wont to do); however, "The Quantum Realm" is a name that can obviously be opened up to encompass a lot more than just the shrinking powers of Ant-Man. And here's what Marvel may have store for that new potential:
Marvel dipped a toe into cosmic mythology with Thor, and then dove into it full-tilt with Guardians of the Galaxy - risky moves that paid dividends for both franchises. Next, Marvel will broach the subject of magic with the release of Doctor Strange in 2016, and Ant-Man's Quantum Realm will be the foundation for how Strange will explain the existence of magic in the MCU.
Now that you've seen Ant-Man (presumably), keep the Quantum Realm in mind when re-reading these quotes about Doctor Strange from Kevin Feige in an interview last summer:
With Strange, it is a classic Marvel origin story because he’s got one of the best origins ever. And it’s our opportunity to take that left turn into the supernatural. Now, what is the definition of supernatural? It varies. We like the idea of playing with alternate dimensions. The very sort of crazy – [Steve] Ditko crazy acid trip way of traveling through dimensions and traveling through other realms is something that we think is very, very cool … playing with the perceptions of reality.
I just watched the Neil deGrasse Tyson ‘Cosmos’ series, which is amazing, and which may as well be an acid trip. It is mind-bending and it’s all based in physics and based in quantum mechanics. We’re going to play a lot with the notion of that as an explanation for how the sorcerers do what they do.
"Quantum Mechanics?" are we the only ones who see how those forces may have something to do with "The Quantum Realm"? We think not. It seems pretty clear, no?
The simple connection to make is that the same trippy, abstract, metaphysical dimension we saw Scott Lang disappear into during the Ant-Man climax will also be the source of Doctor Strange's sorcerer powers - and possibly the means by which demonic magical threats like Dormammu may gain access into our world.
At the very least, we already have strong indication that in Doctor Strange, certain levels of The Quantum Realm could contain another familiar Marvel locale: The Astral Plane. Here's what Doctor Strange star Benedict Cumberbatch had to say, regarding the strange new frontiers that Doctor Strange will explore:
...It’s very different, it’s an Astral Plane. There’s a huge new element to this Marvel universe that’s going to be employed in building this story and this character.
There you have it; another MCU cross-tie connection made. However, Ant-Man and The Quantum Realm could also have a much more direct impact, in a much bigger conflict...