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What We Learned About Marvel’s Quantum Realm From Ant-Man and The Wasp

**Mild spoilers for Ant-Man and The Wasp.**

There’s a moment in Ant-Man and The Wasp where Scott Lang asks, “Do you guys just put ‘quantum’ in front of everything?” Quantum everything looks to be a huge part of the MCU going forward, and now we know a lot more about it.

Marvel’s Quantum Realm is accessible in Ant-Man and The Wasp via Hank Pym’s extraordinary technology, but the Realm has figured into other MCU properties—you can reach it by the Sling Rings of Doctor Strange and Wong, as well as other magical means. As Hank Pym taught us in the first Ant-Man, this alternate dimension is “a reality where all concepts of time and space become irrelevant.”

Quantum Realm

But the Realm itself, while a significant focus in Ant-Man and The Wasp, is hardly the only “quantum” element at play. The word is bandied about and applied so frequently that it prompts Scott, who is always one step behind the scientists tossing out heated theories, to quip about just so many quantums.

We also hear about quantum entanglement—in the movie, the concept is applied as the idea that two people (or perhaps more) can become connected, even across a great distance, like the distance between the Quantum Realm and our dimension.

This seems to be a superhero movie science adaptation of the scientific principle, which I will have Wikipedia explain. (I’m catching up on my research—it’s been a long time since college physics. Any scientists in our readership, please shout out in the comments.)

Quantum entanglement is a physical phenomenon which occurs when pairs or groups of particles are generated, interact, or share spatial proximity in ways such that the quantum state of each particle cannot be described independently of the state of the other(s), even when the particles are separated by a large distance.

The real science is not quite how quantum entanglement is used in Ant-Man and The Wasp. There, it’s used to send messages and even personalities mind-to-mind, which is really freaking cool.

Then there’s quantum phasing, which is used to explain the villain Ghost’s abilities. This is a kind of ability we’ve seen before with many characters across many properties; it can also be called “intangibility,” “ghosting,” or just plain “phasing.” The SuperpowerWiki describes this concept in a way that fits with what we know about Ghost:

User is able to move through objects and ignore most physical effects in their way, exact means how this is done vary between slipping partially into other dimensions, being able to make their own particles move between other particles, being non-physical being of energy, vibrating their molecules into a new quantum frequency.

In Ant-Man and The Wasp, we’re told that Ghost can do what she can do because she’s “in and out of phase with multiple parallel realities.” Quantum energy and its particles are also very important to Ghost.

We are introduced to the quantum tunnel, a structure we first saw in trailers that Hope, Hank, and many helpful worker ants build. It’s this tunnel made of magical-thinking science that I’m guessing may prove critical to the events of Avengers 4, and possibly in the MCU at large, in the future.

Hank Pym describes the tunnel as “a doorway to the quantum realm.” If you remember, previously, the only way to access the universe in Ant-Man land was to go subatomic in a suit and risk continuing to shrink down for eternity. But the tunnel gives people access via a more stable mechanism, and exploring crafts can be sent through. They still have to be careful, because …

Doctor Strange Quantum Realm

Doctor Strange’s bad trip

The Quantum Realm is like a Jack Kirby-themed acid trip. Everything there is colorful, disorienting, and makes no sense, since it’s not tied to the normal rules of time and space—and we find out that there are also different parts and levels to it.

There’s “the wasteland beyond,” and “the quantum void,” and mention of time vortexes (I’m thinking “City on the Edge of Forever” here). There’s also a part of the Realm that seems to be entirely dominated by tardigrades, our favorite bear-shaped micro animals. Personally, I can’t wait for Avengers 4: Tardigrade Tussle. This is no doubt why Kevin Feige is keeping the title under wraps. Sorry to spoil the surprise.

Marvel Quantum Realm tardigrade

From the ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’ trailer

Since the events of Infinity War, many of us have been speculating that the Quantum Realm is going to play a part in Avengers 4 and possibly Captain Marvel, and its importance in Ant-Man and The Wasp (and Kevin Feige’s recent comments) would seem to confirm this. (I think it would actually be impossible to say “quantum” any more times than the film movie manages to fit. Quantum!)

While there’s much I can’t discuss until you’ve all seen the movie, I would bet a lot of money now that this place where time and space abide no known rules is going to be essential so that our heroes can change what Thanos did. I wouldn’t be surprised if quantum entanglement and quantum phasing also become important in the next chapters of the MCU.

Or maybe they’ll just toss Thanos into the Realm and let the tardigrades have at him.

(images: Marvel Entertainment)

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Kaila is a lifelong New Yorker. She's written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.