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SPOILER ALERT: The following article contains spoilers for Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you may want to click away to another one of our wonderful articles!
In the grand scheme, Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man is one of the most self-contained releases that has been put out by Marvel Studios – but that’s not to say that it doesn’t firmly establish itself as part of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. We not only see familiar characters and locations, but there are even direct references to The Avengers: Age of Ultron and the upcoming Captain America: Civil War. What you may not know, however, is that the movie also lays the groundwork for the new Doctor Strange movie as well – specifically in its portrayal of what’s called the Quantum Realm.
It was Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige who called my attention to this interesting thread connecting what otherwise seemingly disparate movies. I had the fantastic opportunity to sit down with the executive/producer at the Los Angeles press junket for Ant-Man a few weeks ago, and it was while discussing the new film’s place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that he noted the movie’s connection to Doctor Strange. Said Feige of the Quantum Realm,
If you look up the study of quantum mechanics, when you get down that small, as Hank Pym says, space time is meaningless, and there’s a lot of that stuff that applies to Doctor Strange. So this is sort of an appetizer for, ‘If you think this is weird…’
Later in the interview, he added that the existence of different dimensions is "essentially the whole crux" of Doctor Strange and that what we see from Ant-Man’s Quantum Realm "is essentially the tip of the iceberg for the stuff in Strange."
While Kevin Feige didn’t explicitly say it during our interview, there is an explanation how Ant-Man shrinking down too small winds up leaving him in what is essentially an alternate dimension. It all comes down to the fact that when Ant-Man goes down to insect size, it’s actually physically impossible that he is reducing his mass. Instead, there is an idea that what the hero is really doing is sending elements of himself into an alternate dimension (or, as we can call it, "the Quantum Realm"). When he shrinks down to be small enough to fit between molecules, what essentially happens is that more of his physical existence enters the Quantum Realm than what is in our world – which is what we see portrayed in the third act of the film.
For comic book fans, this is fun and complex stuff, and if Ant-Man is only serving the appetizer for these ideas, then the main course that comes in the form of Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange will hopefully be an immense treat. We’ll find out when the solo film arrives in theaters November 4, 2016.