Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania has the distinct honor of kicking off “Phase 5” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The phases of the MCU mean a lot to fans, as each one has somewhat cohesive themes and helps to set up the larger story arc of the Marvel projects. Being the start of a specific phase also brings unusual scrutiny and expectations for a film, as fans are eager for hints on what’s to come. Of course, for most of the cast of Quantumania, the bigger picture isn’t their concern; they’re just trying to make the best film they can.
At a recent press conference, the cast and crew of Quantumania came together to discuss their new film, including Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Douglas, Kathryn Newton, Jonathan Majors, director Peyton Reed, producer Stephen Broussard and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige.
Feige explained why Quantumania is the right film to start Phase 5, saying that because the previous phase had introduced so many new characters, “we want to kick off Phase 5 with a third film of characters that were already beloved, which this team certainly is, and utilize them. We’ve talked about family. That goes along with vulnerability and relatability. And who better to face off against one of, if not the biggest villain the MCU’s ever faced than this family who you might think could not handle it?”
The focus of Feige’s answer is noteworthy in that he specifically mentioned the importance of Jonathan Majors’ Kang. First introduced in the final episode of Loki as the charmingly ominous “He Who Remains,’ Majors returns as a fully realized villain in Quantumania. In comics, Kang is one of the most villainous characters in all of Marvel, a character that regularly requires the full might of the Avengers to defeat. Which begs the question, who is the MCU version of Kang?
Majors, who is a uniquely thoughtful artist, was well prepared to share his perspective on his multiversal character:
Who is Kang? I think that is a question that we will all be answering for a very long time. I think the quick answer to that is Kang is a time traveling super villain. Who is also a nexus being, which leads to this idea of variants. There’s multiple versions of Kang. Versions being variants. They occupy different universes, multi-verses, they have different intentions. They are all different beings, and yet something that we’re still and I’m still working on and continue to refine and refine and refine to something as a throughline between them. And that, to me, is the Kang gene.Jonathan Majors on Kang
Of course, while the development of Kang as the next great MCU villain is a critical element of Quantumania, the film also has the dual goal of re-establishing the Ant-Man family of heroes. For Peyton Reed, who has directed all three Ant-Man films, this film provided him the opportunity to expand on the themes of a superhero family.
“The Ant-Man movies have really always been about family. It is a generational story about a family of heroes…in Quantumania, one of the things we’ve done is really broaden that story and start talking about the secrets the family members keep from each other, the things they don’t tell each other,” Reed said.
Rudd, who has played Scott Lang in five films since the first Ant-Man in 2015, talked about how Lang’s perspective has changed since then. He explained that Lang hasn’t always embraced being a hero. Instead, Lang “wants to be a dad, and this is, I think, his main focus. So he always had kind of a love-hate relationship with it, I think, but now I feel as if he’s accepted it,” Rudd said. “He is happy that all of that, it seems to be in the rearview mirror, and now we get to have kind of a normal life, have some time together. And, you know, it doesn’t last, obviously, as long as maybe he thought it would.”
The irony is that as Kevin Feige explains it, Rudd’s everyman hero is what makes Quantumania a great vehicle to further develop Kang. “[T]hese amazing actors we felt would be a great audience surrogate to meet somebody as complex and scary and multiversal as Kang,” Feige said.
At this point, almost everyone who watches these Marvel films understands that there is a larger plan. The next Avengers film, affectionately titled Kang Dynasty, is currently scheduled to be released on May 2, 2025, which means that each film in the next 14 months is a piece to that larger puzzle.
“We’ve made a lot of films in Phase 4, the last of which was Wakanda Forever. We introduced a lot of characters in that. And now in this film, in large part due to the man sitting in front of me [Jonathan Majors], kicks off what we call Phase 5, which begins a more specific storyline heading towards some Avengers films down the line,” Feige said.
Randall Park, who moderated the press conference, followed up by asking how many phases Marvel plans out at a time, Feige answered, “[w]e work in about three phases at a time. Which three phases together, as we all know, make a saga.”
Last summer at San Diego Comic-Con, Feige dubbed the current saga as the “Multiverse Saga,” and with this film, we are fully immersed in this multiverse.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania premieres in theaters February 17th!
Ron is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of POC Culture. He is a big believer in the power and impact of pop culture and the importance of representation in media.