Once called the flavor of the week, Ant-Man received widespread acclaim and recognition upon its release back in 2015. Starring Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, and Michael Douglas, Ant-Man had a humorous approach without taking too much burden of the larger MCU continuity. But subtly, it introduced the quantum realm, which became a major plot device in Avengers: Endgame.
In 2018, the sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp was released which again received widespread acclaim and became a box-office success. Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly’s sizzling chemistry alongside introducing some comic-book favorite characters paid off for the sequel. Ant-Man and the Wasp also delved deeper into the quantum realm, to bring Janet Van Dyne back to the normal dimension.
In Ant-Man, Hank Pym warned his protege Scott Lang to never override his special suit to enter the quantum realm. Years ago, when Hank Pym donned the suit of Ant-Man, his wife Janet also donned a similar suit and was the original Wasp. The duo was tasked to disable a Soviet missile using their shrinking abilities. But unfortunately, Wasp had to override her suit and entered the quantum realm to never return again.
Similarly, Scott Lang went subatomic as his last resort to defeat Yellowjacket and save his daughter, Cassandra. But miraculously, Scott was able to return from the quantum realm which made Hank Pym believe that Janet might be still alive. As a result, Ant-Man and the Wasp focused a lot on bringing Janet back from the quantum realm, which is more commonly known as the Microverse in the comics.
In Ant-Man and the Wasp, Scott Lang is able to bring back Janet Van Dyne from the quantum realm. Upon returning, Janet exhibits a few enhanced abilities like quantum particle manipulation, healing, and entanglement. But more surprisingly, how did Janet manage to survive in the quantum realm for so long?
To answer this question, we might have to go back to the original source material of the quantum realm. In the comics, the quantum realm is called the Microverse. But unfortunately, the Marvel Cinematic Universe cannot use the term as Paramount Pictures holds the rights. Instead, Marvel Studios can use the concept which they accomplished with such finesse in both the Ant-Man movies.
In the comics, the Microverse is a parallel dimension that can be accessed via Pym Particles. Composed of several different worlds which include Sub-Atomica, Tok, Mita, Spartak, Kaliklak, K’ai, and Homeworld, the Microverse is a vast dimension with numerous characters belonging to different races and species.
The Microverse was created by Prince Wayfinder using the Sword in the Star to find a place for his displaced people. This parallel dimension is powered by the Enigma Force, which is a mystical energy that helps the Time Travelers to protect the Spacewall between the Microverse and the Macroverse.
In different storylines, characters such as Doctor Doom, Mister Fantastic, Silver Surfer, Captain America, and Bucky have entered the Microverse. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, only Janet and Scott Lang are shown to have traversed the quantum realm.
In Avengers: Endgame, Scott Lang’s idea of using the quantum realm to time travel was a risky gamble which finally paid off. Though he spent close to five years in the quantum realm, to him, it felt like a few minutes which explains why Janet Van Dyne had aged so slowly despite being trapped for more than 30 years in the quantum realm.
Even if time and space are felt differently in the quantum realm, thirty years is a long time, even in the subatomic dimension. One theory that explains Janet’s survival is her sub-atomic shrinking which made dependence on food, air, and water obsolete.
Also, since the quantum realm is a dimension of its own filled with a variety of characters, this goes to explain why Janet Van Dyne returned unharmed with her sanity intact. In the quantum realm, Janet might have interacted with an exciting group of heroes who would have given her shelter and a sense of belonging in the new dimension. Yes, we are talking about the Micronauts.
Micronauts are the secret heroes of the Microverse who fight against Psyklop and Psycho-Man. They have also fought against Doctor Doom, Molecule Man, and HYDRA. These sub-atomic heroes are allies of Ant-Man, Fantastic Four, Cable, and the Wasp.
The quantum realm was also shown in Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange when the Ancient One took Stephen Strange’s astral projection for a ride at the beginning of the movie. Apart from using Hank Pym’s shrinking abilities, the quantum realm can also be accessed using magic and mystic arts.
As a third Ant-Man movie is in production, we can expect Marvel Studios to explore the sub-atomic world of the quantum realm which can open up a world of possibilities to explore in the future. The sequel to Ant-Man and the Wasp is set to release somewhere in 2022.