The Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to enter a new dynasty. A Kang Dynasty, if you will. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is kicking off Phase 5 of the MCU and introduces audiences to the next major villain: Kang the Conquerer.
But who is Kang and why should the Avengers be afraid? Lifehacker Australia spoke to Jonathan Majors, who plays Kang, as well as Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania director, Peyton Reed, while they were in Sydney to find out more.
5 things we learned about Kang the Conquerer
The difference between Kang and Thanos
While each of the Avengers have their own battles to fight, they were all unified in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame against the threat that was Thanos (Josh Brolin).
In this latest multiverse saga, the Avengers will have a new threat to face in Kang, who will be seen again in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.
The major difference between Kang and other villains, according to Majors, is that he’s a human being.
“Well, Thanos… he’s humanoid, but he’s not a human being right? My dear friend Tom Hiddleston plays Loki, who is from Asgard. Ultron is Ultron,” Majors said. “Kang the Conqueror is first and foremost a human being. He’s flesh and blood. That makes him so relatable, and so universal and it makes me very much able to connect to other people and understand what’s going on with other people.
“He has feelings like everybody else, you know?”
Majors added that there’s a parallel between Kang’s actions being both “super villain” and “super human”.
“He amplifies and goes beyond what the natural response would be for a human being. So I think that’s quite intriguing to play. I think it separates him from the other great mantel villains that the MCU has had,” he said.
Reed added that they really wanted Ant-Man and Wasp to face “the most formidable villain since Thanos” in their third movie.
“Kang came to mind because as a kid, I read those comics and I loved Kang the Conquerer,” Reed said.
“It made sense with what we were doing in the movie, in the quantum realm, to introduce him in that way. And also that what could make him very different from Thanos is here’s a villain who’s not only battling our heroes, but he’s battling all these other variants of himself, which is a story that could play out in a longer way.”
Adapting Kang from the comics
When it came to bringing Kang’s rich history from Marvel comics to life, Majors said he did a lot of reading for the character.
The actor said he drew inspiration from real conquerors — “I read everything about any other conquerors that have ever moved,” he said — but it was the way Kang was drawn in the comics that was most useful for his research.
“There’s so much material about Kang, and how he moves, and how he speaks, and a lot his gestures. That was something that was so helpful for me,” Majors explained. “The way he stood. I didn’t make that up. I saw an image. There’s so many images, you can pretty much find them in any pose you want. A few images really caught me.
“Those comic books really informed the visualisation and the visualisation really began to inform the emotionality and the inner life, which was extremely helpful and quite delicate as we were building it.”
Working on MCU series vs MCU movies
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania won’t be the first time Jonathan Majors’ name has appeared in the MCU. The actor first appeared in the season one finale of Loki, playing He Who Remains, who oversees the Time Variance Authority and resides in the Citadel at the End of Time.
Majors will play a different variant of the same character in Quantumania as Kang the Conqueror, making him one of a small group of actors to appear in both Marvel Studios’ movies and its expansion into Disney+ series.
Majors said working on Loki was a different beast to an MCU movie mainly due to it all being shot across four days in one room during the height of the pandemic.
“[The] preparation is always the same. You prepare for the battle, prepare for the world at hand. I prepare for the hero I’m dealing with,” he said.
The actor said that he found working across the different formats to be “not the same” but “uniquely similar”.
Behind every good villain, there’s an intriguing back story. In Kang’s case, Majors hinted that the character comes from a place of emotional trauma and hinted that it could have something to do with an event that was first referenced in Loki.
“He Who Remains hints at a war with all the Kangs,” Majors said. “Kang the Conqueror may or may not have been a part of that, but he would have known about it. And if he was a part of it, there’s definitely a certain amount of resonance that comes with that.
“A lot will be revealed in the picture. But it’s very deep and it’s very, I would also say, universal. It is that very human wound that motivates and makes him behave the way he behaves.”
What is Kang’s plan in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania?
While it’s clear that Kang will be a major presence in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, what remains unclear is his plan and reason for being in the Quantum Realm.
Reed couldn’t give much away, but he did say Kang has a very “specific reason” for being in the film:
“For our movie, for Kang the Conqueror, we were dealing with the sort of what we call ‘Kang Prime’, right?” Reed explained.
“He’s the one they fear, he’s the one they’re the most scared of. He’s Kang the Conquerer and he has grand designs for the multiverse. There’s a very specific reason in our movie that he is in the quantum realm.”
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania releases in Australian cinemas on 16 February 2023.
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