Marvel visionary Kevin Feige has explained how time works in the Quantum Realm - one of the great mysteries of Ant-Man & the Wasp. It seems this was one of the most difficult challenges facing Marvel when they decided to revisit this mysterious dimension in the Ant-Man sequel.
Viewers were introduced to the Quantum Realm in 2015's Ant-Man, with Hank Pym describing it as "a reality where all concepts of time and space become irrelevant." When Marvel cast Michelle Pfeiffer to play the part of Janet van Dyne, though, it seemed to suggest Hank got it wrong. After all, if time doesn't pass in the Quantum Realm, then Janet would never have aged at all. In her experience, she'd have been brought out of the Quantum Realm the moment after she first entered it, and she'd have returned to a world suddenly very different to the one she left behind.
In reality, it seems the passage of time in the Quantum Realm is a little more complex than Hank had thought. Speaking to Slash Film, Feige pointed out that the movie hints at there being "various levels" to the Quantum Realm; Janet, for example, asks to be rescued from "the Wastelands beyond the Void." That's actually a neat explanation for why Scott Lang's experience of the Quantum Realm in Ant-Man & the Wasp is different to the glimpse he got of it in Ant-Man. Presumably it works like a sort of series of concentric circles: the deeper you get into the Quantum Realm, the more the laws of reality - laws like time and gravity - cease to apply.
According to Feige, the nature of the Quantum Realm, and the passage of time, was a major dilemma during production. Marvel ultimately concluded that the story itself required the passage of time. As Feige explained:
"Ultimately you wanna have an emotional reunion with Michael Douglas, an emotional reunion with Evangeline Lily and our first instinct had always been specifically now Michelle Pfeiffer from that first movie. It felt like it should be somebody who’s the right age. As opposed to Michael Douglas with somebody who has not aged. Or Evangeline Lilly connecting with somebody who’s not aged. That just adds another layer of sort of sci-fi weirdness."
While Marvel is hardly averse to "sci-fi weirdness" - just watch James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy for a dose of that - they wanted to ground this narrative in real human emotions. That meant Janet van Dyne had to have aged. It's possible her age doesn't quite mirror Hank's - presumably she explored different parts of the Quantum Realm, and perhaps had her own adventures with the Tardigrades and time vortexes. But enough time has passed for Janet to be in the right kind of ballpark to be reunited with Michael Douglas's Hank Pym and Evangeline Lilly's Hope Van Dyne.
Source: Slash Film
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019