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Feature Article

Avengers 4: Is The Quantum Realm The Key To Beating Thanos?

Ant-Man and the Wasp and Avengers: Infinity War spoilers below!

Let's face it: More than any act of heroism pulled off by Scott Lang or Hope Van Dyne, the real question about Ant-Man & The Wasp was always going to be how it relates back to Avengers: Infinity War. It's not that we don't love size-changing slapstick comedy and good natured family fun every now and again, but when the current status of more than half the universe is up in the air, there are more pressing issues at hand.

Thankfully, Ant-Man & The Wasp didn't drop the ball on that front. In fact, it may have provided a whole new set of clues about the future of the MCU in a post-Thanos world. It's just that they were all really, really tiny--quantum particle-sized, even.

The Quantum Realm was formally introduced all the way back in the first Ant-Man, as a mysterious and only vaguely understood place so small that it existed outside the human conception of space and time. We're talking beyond subatomic here; a place where you would feasibly just keep shrinking and shrinking forever without end. It was in the Quantum Realm that Janet Van Dyne was originally lost--and believed dead--after she sacrificed herself by shrinking down between the atoms of a nuclear bomb to disable it. Both Hank and Jan believed at that time that trips to the Quantum Realm were one way only, and that if you got that small there was simply no coming back.

Scott Lang disproved that hypothesis when he briefly entered the Quantum Realm only to reemerge totally fine, tossing everything Hank thought he knew summarily out the window. It's with that revelation that we begin building on Quantum Realm theory here in Ant-Man & The Wasp, and where things start to potentially relate back to Infinity War.

Now admittedly, this is all comic book science, so naturally there's some room for hand waving and playing fast and loose with the rules of reality. It's difficult to say exactly or definitively what the nature of quantum exposure is on people in the long run. However, there is undoubtedly some relationship between the Quantum Realm and the fabric of the physical world. We saw this in action with Hank and Hope's new research, and Janet's subsequent rescue--the Quantum Realm is a place where reality is fluid. Moreover, exposure to the Quantum Realm can change a human's physiology.

Janet's decades spent living there have actually granted her certain abilities, like implanting memories and possessing the bodies of other quantum-attuned people. Ghost, too, displays her own set of Quantum Realm powers, which keep her continually phasing in and out of our dimension, maybe even into an "alternate reality," to borrow her words.

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It's not too much of a stretch to say the Quantum Realm and the energy contained within may very well be the closest approximation to the Infinity Stones' power outside of the stones themselves, if for no other reason than how expansive it seems to be. There are, as of right now, no set limits or constraints on just what the Quantum Realm can or can't do.

With quantum energy's ambiguity comes virtually limitless potential. If Jan can shift Ghost back into a stable physical form, is it possible that she--or something else with the same abilities--could, in theory, bring back someone or something whose form has been totally destroyed? Are we about to see those abilities manifesting in Scott Lang for Avengers 4, thanks to his rather unfortunate status as a Quantum Realm refugee in the post-Thanos world?

One of the more prominent theories revolving around what exactly happened to everyone Thanos sent crumbling into non existence centers on the Soul World, a component of the Soul Stone over in the comics. It's not totally clear yet whether or not the Soul World actually exists in the MCU, but there's some loose indication in Infinity War that it could, with Thanos's vision of Gamora immediately after the snap, and the reappearance of Red Skull on Vormir.

We see a strikingly similar type of hallucinatory vision when Janet plants her message in Scott's head and when Hank punches through into the Quantum Realm for the first time, as he suddenly sees himself back in his old house, talking to Bill, Hope, and Scott right before he actually finds his wife. The Quantum Realm and the Soul World probably aren't the same place in a literal sense, but there could be some overlap or relationship--and one could potentially be a bridge or a tunnel to the other.

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If there's one thing that the sci-fi techno babble of Ant-Man & the Wasp makes explicitly clear, it's that there are multiple planes of existence at work here, and the membranes between them are permeable. Maybe the Quantum Realm is the place that exists where all those boundaries rest closest together. And if that's the case, maybe the Quantum Realm is where the remaining Avengers will have to travel in order to punch through to the other side, or, failing that, to repair the damage the Stones have already done.

It should also be noted that both the Soul Stone and the Quantum Realm seem to have some relationship with the past, which seems pretty significant considering the handful of set photos of Avengers 4 that feature not just the team in the old, Chitauri invasion costumes, but streets designed to look like the 1940s. The Russo Brothers have spoken about how the "time travel" of Avengers 4 isn't actually time travel, so the repeated motif of memories and visions of history for both quantum spaces and the Soul Stone seems like more than a coincidence.

If nothing else, with quantum energy positioned in this way, Avengers 4 now has a perfectly built-in escape hatch--a "get out of jail free" card for fixing the universe that doesn't require too much more exposition or explanation for a plan to be set in motion. And, hey, the unexpected irony of a less-than-microscopic Ant-Man being the ultimate conquering hero at the end of the day would be pretty cool too.

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