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What is the Quantum Realm? The Quantum Realm, Explained

It doesn't have as many holes as you'd expect.

In a still from 'Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,' Cassie (Kathryn Newton) stands next to her father, Scott Lang. Scott is wearing his Ant-Man suit without the helmet, so his face his visible.
(Marvel Studios)

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is now in theaters! In a departure from the first two Ant-Man movies, Quantumania takes Scott, Hope, and the rest of the ant gang out of San Francisco, plunging them into a microscopic universe called the Quantum Realm. But what is the Quantum Realm, exactly? Here’s a quick guide!

Warning: this post contains spoilers for all three Ant-Man movies, including Quantumania.

Universes within universes: Subatomica and Chronopolis

We first saw the Quantum Realm in the first Ant-Man movie, when Scott briefly shrinks down to a subatomic level and finds himself floating in a prismatic void. The tricky thing about the Quantum Realm is that, once you shrink down that small, there’s no way to get out. Unless you’re Scott Lang, that is.

The next time we see the Quantum Realm is in Ant-Man and the Wasp, when we learn more about the fate of Janet Van Dyne. Janet goes subatomic in order to disable a missile, and ends up stranded in the Quantum Realm for 30 years. Thanks to a kind of quantum entanglement, she’s able to briefly possess Scott and send her coordinates to Hank and Hope, who have built a machine to go down and rescue her. Once there, Hank finds himself in a shimmering, kaleidoscopic wasteland. Janet is there, 30 years older, wearing a Star Wars-esque cloak and weapon. She’s also been infused with something called “quantum healing particles,” which can heal anyone whose quantum signature is unstable.

Our understanding of the Quantum Realm is blown wide open, though, in Quantumania. Scott and the others are sucked into the Quantum Realm to find not the wasteland they’ve seen before, but an entire ecosystem and civilization. There are plants, fungi, animals, and people. They encounter nomads, encampments, and the sprawling futuristic city of Chronopolis. Where the heck was all this stuff before?

Janet explains that there are different layers to the Quantum Realm, “universes within universes.” Before, they all visited a higher level called Subatomica. The universe that contains Chronopolis is simply further down.

And it’s got some nasty surprises.

The realm of the Conqueror

In Quantumania, Scott and the others find out that the Quantum Realm is ruled by Kang the Conqueror. Kang was exiled to the Quantum Realm by his variants after trying to take over the multiverse, and after regaining some of his power, he proceeds to take over the Quantum Realm, displacing the indigenous inhabitants and becoming a dictator. His ultimate goal, though, is escape, and his entire palace at the center of Chronopolis is a ship that he can use to fly out of the Quantum Realm when he’s ready.

“The basement of the multiverse”

One important aspect of the Quantum Realm is that it exists outside of normal time and space. This means that, theoretically, one could use it to access any point in the multiverse. In an interview with Marvel, writer Jeff Loveness said that the Quantum Realm is “basically … the basement of the Multiverse. It’s this connected limbo outside of space and time.”

That means that the Quantum Realm could continue to play a role in Marvel’s Multiverse Saga even after Quantumania. For example, there’s been long-running fan speculation that the Time Variance Authority is located somewhere in the Quantum Realm.

Is the Quantum Realm the same as the Microverse?

In Marvel comics, Ant-Man can visit a place called the Microverse by shrinking to a subatomic level. Although it’s hard to deny that the Quantum Realm in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is inspired by the Microverse, the Quantum Realm is a separate concept.

(featured image: Marvel Entertainment)

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Julia Glassman (she/they) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and covers film, television, and books for The Mary Sue. When she's not making yarn on her spinning wheel, she consumes massive amounts of Marvel media, folk horror, science fiction, fantasy, and nature writing. You can check out more of her writing at, or find her on Twitter at @juliaglassman.