No fan ever got fired for expressing a bad Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) hot take on Twitter. Sadly, no one ever got fired out of a cannon for it either. So when I saw a fan pining for the appearance of the Micronauts in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, my heart sank for the poor fool.
We should be smart enough at this point to realize that it’s the lawyers who drive the stories in the MCU. Look no further than Disney buying FOX or the drama with Sony and our boy Tom Holland.
My point? Despite what us fans “demand” on Twitter and elsewhere, that’s often just uninformed wish fulfillment. The legalities of intellectual property rights determines who can appear in which films and our foot-stomps and petitions won’t change that reality. Listen, you work with what you’ve got.
Hasbro owns the rights to the Micronauts, so fuhgeddaboudem, they ain’t happening in the MCU.
But let’s pivot this article. While the above 300 words feel so restrictive, let’s use the rest of this article to both fondly recall the Micronauts, while we also speculate on what we might see in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
Fondly Remembering the Micronauts Toys and Comics
Japan-based Takara created a line of science fiction action figures in 1974 and the company Mego brought them to North America in the late 70s as The Micronauts. They were vaguely-android(esque) and spindly and most had silver faces.
Meanwhile, Star Wars became the sci-fi heavyweight and The Micronauts line died in 1980 as Mego filed bankruptcy. Other toy companies dabbled with reviving the line but the Micronauts toys weren’t even the way they were best remembered, it was from their comics.
First published in 1979, the Marvel comic featured both original characters as well as characters based on the Mego toys. Written by Bill Mantlo, Marvel published the series until issue 59 (1984), long after the toy line ended. Other volumes of the series, as well as annuals and miniseries, added to the Micronauts comic mythos.
Marvel told the story of the Micronauts’ origin in the Microverse, a microscopic universe full of strange planets made up of diverse spherical cities. Lead by Arcturus Rann, the Micronauts come together to push back the threat of Baron Karza, a former academic turned murderous dictator.
What followed was an epic war across the Microverse pitting Rann and The Micronauts against Karza. Rann’s team included Princess Mari aka Marionette, who along with her brother Prince Argon, were the only survivors of the slaughtered royal family of Homeworld, a Microverse habitat.
Microtron was a R2-D2-style character who served as support. The alien gladiators Acroyear and *tik*Bug*tik* rounded out Rann’s team, the latter being a wise-cracking thief who later joined the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Some of their adventurous highlights:
- The Micronauts briefly warped to Earth where they were enlarged to action figure size and encountered Man-Thing.
- Karza could turn into a centaur.
- There was an army of dog soldiers.
- Their foes included Plantman, Mentallo, HYDRA, Molecule Man, and Nightmare, Doctor Strange’s long-time foe.
- They even encountered the Fantastic Four when their adventures took them to the Microverse.
Yeah, it was kooky stuff, but always in the best of ways. The original arc of the comic series was glorious, to be honest. It’s no wonder the old Micronauts comics are remembered so fondly, even if they are super difficult to track down because of the ever-changing shifts in rights to the characters, which brings us to their non-appearance in the MCU.
Ant-Man 3 and the Tiny Town in the Quantum Realm
The Micronauts will not be appearing in the MCU because Hasbro owns the rights and their lawyers simply won’t allow it. That doesn’t mean there isn’t already a wink and a nod to the Micronauts in the MCU and, if you missed it, you wouldn’t be alone. During the quantum realm scenes in Ant-Man (2015), a city encased in a bubble appeared in the background.
In fact, it came through loud and clear when you realized what you were looking at. And Peyton Reed–the director of the Ant-Man movies–made a point to mention the city, so it’s intentional.
It’s of course called the Quantum Realm in the MCU because calling it the Microverse would step on Hasbro’s toes. But a tiny, spherical city is unmistakable, meaning it is entirely understandable some exurberant–yet uninformed–fans might take to Twitter to proclaim the Micronauts surely must be living in there.
Other theories – and, again, these were from 2015 – proclaimed that maybe Kang lived there. “Chronopolis” is the comic book name of the famed home of the time traveling foe, making this a theory that looks wildly prescient. But there were more:
- Another theory posited that Reed Richards worked with Hank Pym years ago and became trapped in the Quantum Realm with his family, and it’s there where they will receive their powers and be introduced into the MCU.
- International fans wonder if the bubble city might be a Captain Britain pocket universe that opens the door for that character’s introduction.
- Black Knight was allegedly part of Peyton Reed’s original Ant-Man pitch, so his introduction in the Eternals movie leaves fans wondering if the Quantum Realm could be a connection point for him before an appearance in Blade.
Regardless, none of the above includes the Micronauts. So, how might the Micronauts tie into the movie? Well, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania will explore the politics of a Quantum Realm ravaged by war. He’s not Kang the Duly-Elected President, he is Kang the Conqueror.
Already announced characters include the never aging Paul Rudd, of course, but the cast also includes Katy O’Brian, who plays Jantorra, and William Jackson Harper, who plays Quaz, a member of Jantorra’s band of freedom fighters who aim to reclaim their homeland from Kang the Conqueror. At least that what the trailer and media reports are pointing to thus far.
Look, there wasn’t a Micronaut character named Quaz or Jantorra, but you don’t have to squint hard to recognize the story parallels with Arcturus Rann and the Micronauts who came together as freedom fighters against Baron Karza, the murderous dictator of the Microverse.
So, will we see Micronauts characters like Princess Mari and Bug in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania? Nah. Remember, the lawyers are calling the shots and the best we can do is to petition a friendly Hasbro executive to either take steps to reprint the comic book or relaunch the toy line or holy heck just give us something with the Micronauts!
The movie may indeed give us the spirt of the Micronauts along with a wink here and there. And as a ride or die Micronauts fan, I’ll take anything I can get.