The Quantum Realm has been a part of the MCU mythology since it was introduced in the first Ant-Man film. Since then, we’ve only seen glimpses of the unexplored world. But in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, we will finally see it in all its bizarre and indescribably wacky glory. And it took an entire team, plus some input from Ant-Man star Paul Rudd to figure out how it would look and the quantum mechanics of it all.
The Nerds of Color had the chance to participate in the virtual press conference for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, where Rudd, director Peyton Reed, and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige talked about the cinematic inspirations and real-world microscopic imagery that helped inform the look and feel of the Quantum Realm.
During the three-and-a-half year-long conceptualization process, Reed addressed what he pulled from to inform the look of the Quantum Realm. “We just wanted to assemble a team of artists and say we’re creating the quantum realm,” Reed said. “We want to create this very vivid world that has its own internal history and internal logic. And, you know, who are the creatures there? And who are the people there? And how do you travel? What are the laws of physics? All these things needed to be figured out.”
And the striking imagery of the electron microscope photography also helped form the collective look. “Just set your mind thinking, which was where all of our minds had to be, which is like, all of this movie is taking place in your fingernail somewhere like it’s the subatomic world. It’s all the stuff is going on, in the fabric of space-time outside of space and time, but in the Quantum Realm,” Reed said.
“Janet Van Dyne describes, at one point, it’s worlds within worlds and this sort of idea that there’s this infinite world and worlds down there that are inhabited by creatures and things,” Peyton adds. “So it really was taking into account all of those things and bringing together this group of artists who had their own crazy things in their portfolios.” For Peyton, it was about considering as many cool designs as possible and figuring out how to work them into the Quantum Realm.
During the three-and-a-half year-long conceptualization process, Reed addressed what he pulled from to inform the look of the Quantum Realm. Reed added that they looked at films like The Wizard of Oz, Flash Gordon, and Barbarella, electron microscope photography, and heavy metal magazines from the ’70s and ’80s. There’s even a Mobius element to it.
Rudd talked about how some of the fantastic concept designs eventually went into the final look of the Quantum Realm. These designs were so incredible that Rudd was convinced they were fake. “It’s pretty crazy. I think at the beginning, because we had no idea really what is this going to look like when we started — going into Marvel and seeing some of those photographs on the wall. I thought, ‘wow, these are incredible mock-ups. This is the craziest landscape,'” he said. And it was only until Reed told him they were images taken from an electron microscope.
While Quantumania is the first time our family of heroes has stepped onto the Quantum Realm, it isn’t the first time we have seen it. While the first Ant-Man film was mainly an origins story, it gave us a small glimpse of what it would look like when visualized. It wasn’t until Endgame that we saw how important the place would be in the larger narrative of the MCU.
And since the Quantum Realm was very different from any other place we’ve seen, it gave Marvel the creative liberties to breathe life into it. “Paul was talking about the amount of storytelling and imagination and fun that you could have there,” Feige said. “It is a place that is on the subatomic level, where space and time act differently. And that allowed us to time travel at Scott Lang’s suggestion in Endgame. And it allowed us to have this entire manic quantumness in this film, where we go to a point where only Janet had ever seen before, where there is an entire universe below the surface where we meet all sorts of fun and crazy characters.”
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania opens in theaters on February 17, 2023.