Jonathan Majors’ big debut in Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania as Kang the Conqueror could have hurt the character more than helped him when it comes to setting the stage for Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.
While many might be quick to think this in reference to his current legal troubles, consider those unrelated—the issue is more in the way the villain was handled for Ant-Man 3.
Kang has a lot to live up to. Josh Brolin’s Thanos is a high standard, one that the next MCU big bad will be compared to every step of the way.
So it’s a shame that the time-traveling villain’s biggest appearance sees him embarrassed by the size-changing family of heroes.
What Quantumania Offered Fans
When Jonathan Majors Kang the Conqueror was first introduced in Season 1 of Loki, audiences were already scared of the trouble he might bring.
The very first Variant of the villain certainly seemed imposing. He Who Remains had a certain air to him like he knew so much more than anyone else in the room—he controlled all the pieces on the board.
Ant-Man 3’s post-credits tag even showcases that Tom Hiddleston’s Loki still believes the time traveler to be “terrifying.”
So, when it came to his theatrical debut in Quantumania, some were understandably excited to see this scary Kang that had been teased so heavily.
And, for the most part, Jonathan Majors’ big bad was still plenty intimidating. Though, at the end of the day, his presence was a letdown for many.
For someone who is shown to be a great warrior, he still managed to be defeated by heroes many see as the weakest Avengers—something directly referenced by Majors’ villain.
One of the biggest hits to the baddie’s reputation was how he wass bested by a horde of ants.
Sure, MODOK didn’t help the situation, but it’s hard to see why Kang would struggle against the insects. He should be able to just vaporize them all with relative ease, something he can be seen doing in flashbacks.
Then, Scott Lang was able to keep up with Kang in hand-to-hand combat. Sure, Ant-Man gets his ass handed to him, but the villain should be wiping the floor with him in that scenario.
Most embarrassingly, and this could just be pure luck on the Ant-Family’s side, Wasp is able to push him right into the core—possibly killing him outright.
The Kang From the Comics
The Kang from the comics is a force to be reckoned with, and it’s clear his live-action counterpart was nerfed.
On the surface, he does not have the pure power and abilities like Thanos. However, his immense intellect and vast technical prowess help make up for that.
There’s a common saying that advanced technology can be indistinguishable from magic to some. This sentiment resonates perfectly with Kang’s, whose control over technology is leagues past even that of Tony Stark.
On top of utilizing energy beams, Kang is also known to summon various weapons, all of which embody immense destructive potential.
To add to his armory, he even gets access to some cosmic-level weapons in the comics that give him an even greater advantage. This includes the likes of The Forever Crystal and The Cosmic Cube (which is what the Tesseract is adapted from).
Additionally, Kang’s mastery and understanding over time give the big bad some of his biggest advantages. That, paired with his technological prowess, can often make him all but untouchable.
One of Kang’s biggest threats, which the MCU did touch already, are his countless Variants.
It could be argued that his many alternate selves are more of a threat in the MCU than the comics due to there being less of a direct causality with Marvel Studios’ time traveling. Instead of being different versions of the same person on the same timeline, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is treating these Kang Variants as being from entirely separate realities.
Sadly, it still looks like it’ll be some time before the MCU truly takes advantage of the character onslaught of personas.
Had Kang lived up to all of these capabilities in Quantumania, Scott Lang and company wouldn’t stand a chance.
How Kang’s Ant-Man Debut Could Be Detrimental
Given his defeat in Ant-Man 3, audiences could see Kang as a far less imposing threat for the MCU to deal with.
How can Kang go on to be seen as a true threat to the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe when he was so easily defeated by the likes of Ant-Man and The Wasp? It’s hard to imagine a situation where that version of the time despot could ever stand toe-to-toe with Avengers like Thor or Captain Marvel.
If the Kang in Quantumania is, in fact, the same one who will go on to feature in the Avengers films, this problem is exacerbated significantly. This nerfed version of the villain may simply not be enough to live up to the threat that Thanos once possessed—especially seeing as how Josh Brolin’s villain wasn’t defeated at all until the end of Endgame.
Of course, as it stands now, Marvel Studios is still figuring out what it’s doing with Majors’ role in the MCU after the star’s recent allegations.
If the company does move forward with a recast, perhaps a new actor could bring with him a new mindset for the audience. They might help wash away some of the funky taste that Quantumania brought with it.
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania is now streaming on Disney+.