Anyone who pays attention to what Marvel uploads to Marvel Unlimited knows that there are sometimes clues laid to future developments in Marvel comics, movies, and TV shows in the choices of what comics show up on the service. This week, for example, Marvel uploaded four back issues from the '80s Quasar series. But what could that mean?
Well, as a longtime reader of Marvel comic books, there’s been something nagging in the back of my mind since 2015’s Ant-Man introduced the idea of the “Quantum Realm” — a feeling that there was something missing that I couldn’t quite figure out throughout 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp which only got more insistent when the title was announced for February 2023’s third installment in the series, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. And then I realized that it was a question: why is it called the Quantum Realm, anyway?
Quantum, not micro
After all, based on what we’ve seen in the Ant-Man movies so far, the MCU Quantum Realm is far closer to what the comic books call the Microverse — a perfectly good name that’s been in use for half a century, which makes it very clear just what everyone is talking about. (You can’t read 'Microverse' and not think, 'Oh, it’s about something getting smaller,' after all.) Even before the Microverse term was coined, there was 'Sub-Atomica,' which is similarly self-explanatory. (Sub-Atomica, which debuted in Fantastic Four #16, turns 60 this year; let’s pretend there’s a birthday homage in Quantumania.)
It’s possible that Marvel Studios has shied away from using 'Microverse' as a term because of its connection with the Micronauts, the Hasbro property originally published by Marvel in the '70s which the company no longer has full access to; it was the Micronauts series — which ran from 1979 through 1984, with a second volume running from 1984 through 1986 — that really built out the mythology of the sub-atomic realm using material that, because it’s not entirely owned by Marvel, cannot fully be folded into the MCU today. It’s also possible, however, that there’s an entirely different reason at play… and one that might reveal just how far in advance Marvel plans its movieverse.
In the zone
Just as Marvel’s comic book mythology has a Microverse, it also has a Quantum Zone — not quite a Quantum Realm, but close enough for our purposes; the translation process from page to screen can sometimes alter familiar, if not iconic, names. (Remember when Infinity Gems became Infinity Stones?) The thing is, though, the Quantum Zone isn’t the Microverse, or anything even vaguely close to it; it’s not a space that can be reached via Pym Particles, or shrinking down or even being kidnapped by figures unknown so that your Avenger dad has to come rescue you.
Instead, it’s far more important than that: it’s the source of all energy in the Marvel comic book universe… which certainly feels like the kind of place that Kang would be interested in colonizing, whether it’s the comic book or MCU version of the character. Could it be that there’s a lot more to the Quantum Realm of the MCU than anyone has previously considered, and that Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania could prove to be far more important to the future of the MCU than anyone had previously considered…? I mean, it certainly sounds like the kind of thing Marvel Studios would pull, doesn’t it…?
Of course, Marvel being Marvel, it’s even more likely that there’s another secret reveal lying right there in plain sight. Just as WandaVision hid Agatha Harkness in plain sight, Quantumania might be doing the same thing with William Jackson Harper’s character. The Good Place and Love Life actor is playing Quaz, who’s been described by Marvel Studios as a telepath living in the Quantum Realm, but about whom nothing else has been revealed. It’s a surprisingly low key role for such an in-demand actor, which is just one sign that more might be going on than meets the eye, leading some to speculate that Quaz is actually Reed Richards… but there’s another character who might fit the bill more closely.
What if Quaz is Quasar?
For those unfamiliar with the '90s hero, Quasar is a human who uses the Quantum Bands — cosmic bracelets powered by the Quantum Zone, notably — to both fight crime and more importantly, protect the universe from threats few others could handle. Traditionally, his powers have been more rooted in energy manipulation and super strength rather than telepathy, but… who’s to say that even that isn’t a feint? If nothing else, the name feels like a hint, as does the Quantum connection — even in the title of the movie — and the fact that Quasar’s official role as Protector of the Universe would make him a suitable addition to the MCU in the run-up to both Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and The Marvels… but… is that really where Marvel is going?
Again, it's very possible that Marvel is planning something else entirely with the Quantum Realm, and that Quaz is nothing but a red herring in the grand scheme of things. (Sorry, William Jackson Harper.) But then again, there are those Quasar back issues being added to Marvel Unlimited...!
With two weeks until the release of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, it’s not long before we find out what, if anything, the true mystery of the Quantum Realm really is, and if there’s a reason why it’s got that particular name… and whether William Jackson Harper is headed for bigger and better things in the MCU or not.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania will be released February 17.
Read our Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania review.
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