He will be the next big villain in the Infinity Saga, thought to be an ever-changing and perpetually looming threat, but the cinematic Conqueror is still now, in Peyton Reed’s film, in its embryonic and assemblage stages.
Based on the aggregate percentage of approval of the film and on the various opinions of the critics – including our review of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania -, the cinecomic forerunner of Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not being liked very much. There are various motivations, especially in terms of story construction and action, but one thing that seems to make more or less everyone agree is the interpretation of Kang the Conqueror of the histrionic Jonathan Majors.
We had already had the opportunity to admire the actor at work on the character as a different iteration of the same in Loki. There he was known as “The One Who Remains” and was perhaps the only Variant of the enemy not totally corrupted by power and selfishness, but also the only one still in existence – hence the nickname. However, what interests us above all is the articulated conceptual framework of the villain within the new Saga, fragmented into many parallel, alternating or overlapping temporal planes, and in numerous – and potentially countless – typified performances. It is this that makes Kang a beautifully layered and virtually unbeatable protagonist, albeit in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania seems far too tight in the grips of a smaller film than we’d assumed.
At the origins of an evil
We will try not to spoil the plot of the cinecomic that has just arrived in theaters, talking about Kang as much as possible on the merits. First, what catches the eye in this third chapter of Ant-Man and the Wasp is the will to make the visual sector of the franchise bigger and more impressive, with particular regard to the worldbuilding of the Quantum Realm, imagined as a sort of galaxy-organism suspended between space and time (and clearly inspired by Star Wars). In this sense, the film opens up its productive and artistic horizons, but it is the price to be paid in terms of narrative and the extent of the story that destabilizes an ideal formal balance which, on the other hand, does not exist. In essence, the story does not know any particular upheavals and struggles to surprise even in the action sector, which in the previous two chapters was often excellently and well-thought-out choreographed by Reed.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, chi è Kang?
However, we must consider the introductory soul of the cinecomic for Phase 5 and for the more than concrete threat of Kang in the Multiverse Saga, so much so that despite the Ant-Family being the protagonist of the film, it is actually the figure of the Conqueror who predominates in the ‘collective interest of the director, screenwriter Jeff Loveness and also in the eyes of the general public. The tagline invites us “to witness the birth of a new dynasty“, and in fact all the rest of the cinecomic it is almost a side dish to this promise, a real narrative pretext to get to Kang and confront him, until facing him face to face. It might even be considered Quantum an origin story of the enemy elaborated as a conceptual antithesis to Loki, where instead there was his end (albeit a different variant).
The problem is that the context and the continuity they necessarily harness Kang’s real abilities, making him like Ant-Man, Wasp or Stinger an insect trapped in a small and crowded world without temporal or spatial linearity, and this net of essentially unattainable powers and knowledge. There is a truly emblematic phrase of his from the enemy and it makes clear the idea of his downsizing: “How are you going to beat me? I am a Conqueror, you are ants“. It is indicative because it makes explicit his ego and his vision of life despite the fact that to face him almost on equal terms there are not Thor, Captain America or the Hulk but insect-sized heroes just like him at that precise moment.
Below the surface
But Kang is much more than a prisoner in the Quantum Realm. Kang is infinite. For this as seen in Quantum it barely scratches the surface of the true narrative latency of the antagonist, barely affected here. Brilliant and sophisticated the performance of Jonathan Majors, who always lending the same face to the character is forced – having fun – to re-imagine his physical and psychological interpretation from time to time, effectively changing his mindset, attitude and even the way we move together to the cadence of language and expressiveness. This Kang is something completely new compared to The one who stays and confirms the incredible talent of Majors, who re-invents himself and puts himself to the test waiting to besiege – literally – the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a horde of incalculable Variants to conquer the Multiverse.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the screenwriter: “Kang is the most dangerous villain of the Multiverse”
What fascinates, therefore, is the promise it makes Quantum, everything that lies below the surface that we have seen so far. The one worn in the film is an actually tight conceptual suit for the big villain of the Phase 5, but intentionally fair also in consideration of the numerous defects that permeate the production. Because big things have small beginnings and patience is among the fundamental virtues of MCU enthusiasts, often repaid with satisfaction after years. It is indeed true that the path of the Multiverse Saga will lead us to Avengers: The Kang Dinasty and then to Secret Warsand now almost in physiological parallel with the comics, “establishment passages” are almost obligatory, i.e. cinematographic chapters that lay essential foundations for the future of the MCU without generating who knows what enthusiasm.
This new project is thought to be much more complex than the Infinity Saga and start first of all from his enemy and with appearances that are not small and sporadic but of impact, aimed at destabilizing the MCU continuum to some extent. And now that we’ve seen the beginning and the end, it’s time to get serious.