Oxygen molecules would be bigger than him, and they therefore wouldn't be able to fit into his tiny lungs to have oxygen available for cellular respiration, and thence the energy to live. He was at a sub-atomic size for quite a while, and I'm not sure that the suit supplies him with oxygen. An atom is mainly empty space...

What really sparked my interest is when Hank Pym (in the end) thinks that his wife could still be alive - it is plausible that since physics at the sub-atomic level is different than how we experience it in every day life. But for her, time will be passing at the same rate as normal. If Pym could find her, his time experience would be different, and she would experience a long time at sub-atomic size with her oxygen levels probably depleted (present only minimally in small air spaces in her suit), and would suffocate.

How is what Pym believes justifiable, and how could Ant Man have spent so long in a sub-atomic state and still be alive ?

  • 30
    It's only really justifiable if you don't think about it too hard.
    – USFBS
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 16:31
  • 27
    There's is absolutely nothing real-world about any of the science in Ant-Man :\
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 16:33
  • 2
    Yes there is, you just have to look for how its plausible in real world science somehow it is plausible and theoretically possible, you just have to tackle it one step at a time and not allowing to over whelm where we are driven to the point were we resort to condemning it impossible.
    – rert588
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 16:36
  • 9
    Ah, I see. You're into quack physics :)
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 16:37
  • 4
    @rert588, Well, because the idea that Ant-Man could even get that small is ludicrous, any rules that were not introduced by the writers can be thrown out. Therefore, the justification for Ant-Man not dying is because it meshes with the made-up physics that the writers created for the movie.
    – USFBS
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 16:47

2 Answers 2


It is only briefly touched on in this movie, but from comments made by Marvel's Kevin Feige, we'll be seeing a lot more of the "Quantum Realm" in future movies. At the moment, we're working on the assumption that this is actually the MCU equivalent of the Microverse, which appears in many of the Fantastic Four and Ant-Man comic storylines.

The Microverse is not just the "smallest level" of our universe: it's a different place, with different rules, that can only be reached by shrinking down to quantum-level sizes in our universe. Once there, however, things exist "normally", including whole civilizations, even with their own heroes:

enter image description here

At this point, we can only assume Scott ended up in something analogous to the Microverse, and that it allowed him to exist and stay alive until he could grow himself back into our universe.

  • 1
    I like your answer.
    – rert588
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 16:48
  • 10
    really? someone downvoted my awesome picture?
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 19:04
  • I came here to post an answer about the microverse and how it is already marvel comics canon the possibility to shrink to sub atomic, but Michael beat me. Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 21:17
  • But the Microverse isn't a microscopic universe. It is a sub-dimensional/near parallel realm only accessible by entities who can shrink to the sub-atomic sizes necessary to access it. Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 1:18
  • 1
    @MichaelEdenfield they must have been disappointed with the lack of freehand circles
    – Kapler
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 13:42

In the movie, Ant-Man's costume is supposedly self-contained and shrinks the oxygen needed along with the miniature hero -- hence the closed-face helmet. Shrinking the oxygen molecules would be for the scale of reduction, so that when Ant-Man shrank to sizes where he would clearly no longer be able to interact with oxygen gas due to scale, he would still have an air supply no matter how small he became.

enter image description here

  • In an interview featured in the latest issue of Empire, costume designers Sammy Sheldon and Ivo Coveney discuss the loosely-based logistics behind the Ant-Man suit worn by Rudd’s Scott Lang.

  • Adhering to realism in one sense, the suit is designed to be self-contained, since oxygen molecules would be too large to breathe for a shrunken superhero. (emphasis added)

However, that aspect also takes form with two crucial cables jutting out the side of his helmet. As Coveney comments:

"We had a long discussion about the two cables going into his helmet. They're a massive weakness - Yellowjacket could just rip them off and he's dead. But, in the end, it just looks cooler with them on."

"Ant-Man's Costume Has One Massive Flaw." Cinemablend.com. N.p. Web. 5 Aug. 2015. http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Ant-Man-Costume-Has-One-Massive-Flaw-71656.html

  • It looks as tough he is breathing through a filter. Could you justify that Pym's wife could still be alive.
    – rert588
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 17:06
  • 1
    Ugh. Did the costume designers really say that "oxygen molecules would be too large to breathe for a shrunken superhero", or did cinemablend infer that? What do they think ants breathe?
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 19:06
  • 15
    They would be, not because the molecules are inherently too large, but because our lungs are designed for O2 to be a particular size, and they would be larger. If you shrunk an ant, it would have the same problem. Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 20:01
  • 5
    @MichaelEdenfield question states "subatomic level" on title, so in the context of this SE Q&A, yes, oxygen molecules are too big. Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 21:15
  • @Mindwin I don't see your point. I specifically asked if the costume designers actually said that. I doubt the people working on Ant-Man were trying to answer this question...
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 22:17

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