Is there a canonical explanation for how Ant-Man's weight works when he shrinks down that's consistent with the various events depicted in the film?

I think the explanation given in the film is roughly "the suit compresses the space in-between atoms, so your size decreases, your density increases, and your total mass stays the same", however it seems to be portrayed in contradictory ways. For instance:

  • He can float in water, and even be sent shooting through the air by a relatively gentle flow of water filling a bathtub. This wouldn't happen if he retained his original mass, as he'd essentially be the densest thing on the planet and should sink like a stone even in a vat of molten lead.

  • Upon landing after being ejected from the bathtub, the ceramic tile underneath him shatters. That takes a significant amount of force, and similar effects are used at other points in the movie where he falls onto (or straight through) various things.

  • He's able to get sucked into a vacuum-cleaner. One that didn't even appear to be a high-end, extra powerful vacuum-cleaner, let alone one capable of sucking up a 200 pound piece of dust.

  • He can run along the barrel of a gun as someone shoots it, apparently without causing them to drop the weapon or even have trouble continuing to aim it.

Does a more consistent explanation exist in other media, that would fit with the above examples? Or is this simply a case of the power being made to do whatever happened to be most convenient at the time?


1 Answer 1


I've posted pretty much the same thing on this answer in the Sci-Fi Stack Exchange, but in general Ant-Man follows the rule of cool much more than it does its own internal logic.

For example, I'm fairly certain that something as dense as Ant-Man, when shrunk, would have gone straight through the roof of the car that he lands on towards the start of the film - let's remember that this is effectively just a 200lb/90kg object that is only an inch or so long, probably making Ant-Man one of the densest objects on Earth (and certainly unable to ride on a flying ant named Ant-thony).

Towards the end of the film, we see Scott throw a weapon that enlarges objects, which accidentally hits an ant, making it the size of a large dog. At this stage, the ant either takes on an appropriate mass (meaning it would be crushed to death under its own weight thanks to its basic design not being sturdy enough at larger sizes/weights) or it remains the same weight as a normal ant, and gets blown away in the first mild breeze.

In short, the in-universe explanation that we're given (namely that the distance between atoms is reduced, meaning objects get smaller but retain the same mass) is pure nonsense from the demonstrations of it that we have seen.

However, this may be true even in-universe, as the finale of the film sees Scott shrink down into the "quantum realm", becoming smaller than the size of molecules and atoms.

This shouldn't be possible if the only change is the distance between atoms, so there is the potential that Hank simply lied to Scott (or is incorrect) about how the Pym particles work.

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