Phase 5 has officially kicked off with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and as the film continues its solid run at the global box office, we were able to sit down with Primetime Emmy-winning screenwriter Jeff Loveness (Rick and Morty; Jimmy Kimmel Live!) to get the inside scoop.
While Scott Lang's (Paul Rudd) journey was at the heart of the story, the film also introduced the mighty Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) and teased an even bigger threat with the impending arrival of the Council of Kangs in 2025's Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.
We get into where he wanted to take Scott after everything he's been through over the past few years, why Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) was so important to Kang, that epic post-credits stinger, whether there are secrets in the film yet-to-be uncovered, and, of course, what's coming next.
Read on for our full interview with screenwriter Jeff Loveness below and please remember to SUBSCRIBE to my channel for more exclusive content!
ROHAN: This is the first time we're seeing Scott since Endgame and he's really focused on reconnecting with Cassie after being away for so long. When you first got started on the script, what was your initial approach? Where did you want to get Scott by the end of this film? And did you have to streamline the journey a bit?
JEFF: Oh, certainly. There's always something. Maybe one day we'll get the four-hour Loveness cut to the real fans. *laughs* But no, I think I really was interested in exploring just the concept of lost time in this movie and the price of being a hero, which sounds trite, but it's really true, especially with Marvel Comics, like, Scott Lang is the everyman of the MCU, and no one's paid more of a price to his personal life than him.
He did the right thing, going up against his company, but it took him away from his daughter and lost him his marriage. He goes to fight with Captain America, he gets paroled again and separated from his daughter, and I think, it's almost a Rocky III situation now where he just kind of wants to - he feels like he's had his victories and he just wants to kind of reconnect again, but you can't really get that time back, and she is her own person now and all the things that he did that kind of kept him away from his daughter, those were things that she admired about him.
And then the irony now is like now that they've got a little more time he's changed a bit, and there's a bit of a a gulf and who is close to their teenage daughter? Not a lot of people, you know? I feel like for dads out there, hopefully they would relate is by about the time they're going off to college, you realize just how much time you missed. There's that feeling of disconnect, which means it was a really good opportunity to have that connection between Scott and then a guy who has nothing but time and who can really give that to you or a guy to who time is nothing but a scalpel.
ROHAN: Jonathan Majors are Michelle Pfeiffer are incredible and their scenes together as just fantastic. When you were writing him, what did you see in Kang the Conqueror? And his shared history with Janet? Because he really seems hellbent on fulfilling his promise to her. Who did you see and why is Janet so important to him?
JEFF: Absolutely, great question, like that, to me, was what really sets him apart from other MCU villains. - And, as just a side point, I'm a big X Men guy, I loved it so much, and the best thing about X Men is Magneto and his relationship with Charles Xavier. And the fact of that these are brothers, these guys love each other, and no matter what happens, they will never forget that they were the only other person they had at one point.
So, I thought to do almost this shipwreck drama that I found to be really interesting. Someone like Kang the Conqueror, he has to be humbled in a way like Napoleon after he'd gotten defeated at Waterloo or turned back from Moscow and exiled or say if Julius Caesar survived his assassination by 50 other Julius Caesars and was sent away. I wanted to really show a Kang who'd been humbled and who was broken and who was very vulnerable. That felt like a really good opportunity to really humanize this nigh-omnipotent character.
And then you can see, if you watch the movie, there's a small moment where Janet, in her flashback, is offering him water and she's kind of cradling him a little bit, and you just see in Jonathan's eyes, this look of almost guilt, that he's being treated with mercy.
In my head, as the writer, I'm like, this is the first time in thousands of years, hundreds of years, who knows how long, that someone has looked at Kang and not known who he was and this is the first time in his life he's ever been able to be a stranger to someone and he's been treated like a regular human being and someone is like giving him water and being tender and merciful towards him and it's the first chance he's had to actually be a scientist again, for the first time in hundreds of years, and sadly, it's all built on this dark lie.
But by the time Janet - and you see in that conversation they have, he's not lying to her. It's like he finally through Janet realizes the beauty of a small life and time, and he sees how much she just wants to see her daughter again. In Greek mythology, if a God was disguised, and a peasant was kind to them, they would give them a gift, or you see that all across grandiose storytelling, or the emperor would be disguised and go amongst the people to see if he was revered.
It felt like a really good opportunity for Kang the Conqueror to be a human and to see that this person was worth saving and worth being a friend. Then of course, it all kind of comes out, and you see the guilt in his eyes too, because, at the end of the day, she doesn't understand what he has to do, and he can't turn back from his crusade, and that's kind of where that schism starts.
Long answer, but I just really wanted to give Kang a visceral human connection to someone else, and this felt like a good way to do it.
ROHAN: We see Immortus, Rama-Tut, and Scarlet Centurion in the post-credits scene, and then, of course, the whole Council of Kangs. What did you want to tease with that scene and what it could mean for the greater MCU? Because it really feels like they're going to have their sights set on the Ant-Man family...
JEFF: Yeah, it certainly seems that way, or the universe that killed him. That, to me, it's like the mafia, or it's like the Axis powers or something like that. It's like, we can kill him, but if someone else goes after him, okay, that's gonna threaten all of us. If someone out there is powerful enough to kill the guy that even we couldn't kill or the guy we were so afraid of that we had to overpower and get rid of. That's a big problem.
And it just ties into the other, in that credit scene, it says, ‘They're beginning to touch the multiverse.’ That's a very veiled shot across the bow, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, they have not gone unnoticed in their tampering with the multiverse. So, I think now, the threat is big enough that they've got to move on this pesky universe that's messing up their empire, and, just in the general sense, I think it's very fun to make Kang the Conqueror, correct.
When you go back to watch his interrogation of Scott, he's not lying, and he says, he's not a liar. He was the only shot our universe had against that overwhelming power, and now that guy is gone. So, good luck, Hawkeye! Good luck!
ROHAN: Are there things in Quantumania that fans won't be able to fully appreciate until Avengers: The Kang Dynasty?
JEFF: I think so. I would listen closely to some of Kang's lines, especially when he's talking to Janet and especially when he's talking to Scott. You don't want to spell it all out because there's a lot of movies to go and you want to breadcrumb it a little bit, but he's not a liar. He may have had the right idea about stuff.
ROHAN: There were a lot of rumors about the ending before the film's release. Was the ending we got always the planned ending or did you play around with different finales?
JEFF: Yeah, we certainly, pitched out and we gamed out how many versions of how to do the ending and we certainly went through our paces with that. I think, ultimately, I see the thoughts on the internet about stranding people and killing people, but, at the end of the day, it would have just been the same ending of Ant Man 2. It's like, ‘Oh, Scott is trapped in the Quantum Realm again,’ and then, it would have been the same exit point as Endgame where, ‘Oh, he's in the Quantum Realm, and now he's out of the Quantum Realm.’
Hey, comic book fans are like sports fans, it's gonna get messy, and there's going to be opinions, but I loved where we landed because it's a real Hero's Journey of the guy who was carefree and thought his hero days were done, having to really bite the bullet, be willing to sacrifice himself and then get saved by his family and then, saved by his daughter, realizing that he's not as alone as he thought he was, you don't have to throw yourself on the grenade if you've got help.
The guy who starts out so carefree is now burdened with this dread at the end, and now he's going to be almost the Paul Revere of the multiverse, I think. He's the only one who knows about Kang, and he's not quite sure what's going to happen and I think going forward, we'll see, but I think it's very interesting with this ending that we went with. The guy who saved the universe in Endgame may potentially be the guy who [frick]s the universe now, multiverse actually. I'm sure there are YouTube reaction videos that I should pay close attention to, but I think I'm gonna be happy with where our stories go.
Super-Hero partners Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) return to continue their adventures as Ant-Man and the Wasp. Together, with Hope’s parents Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and Scott’s daughter Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton), the family finds themselves exploring the Quantum Realm, interacting with strange new creatures and embarking on an adventure that will push them beyond the limits of what they thought possible.
Directed by Peyton Reed and produced by Kevin Feige, p.g.a. and Stephen Broussard, p.g.a., “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania” also stars Jonathan Majors as Kang, David Dastmalchian as Veb, Katy O'Brian as Jentorra, William Jackson Harper as Quaz and Bill Murray as Lord Krylar. The sci-fi adventure opens in theaters on Feb. 17, 2023.