With Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania enjoying another solid weekend at the global box office, we recently caught up with Emmy Award-winning screenwriter Jeff Loveness (Rick and Morty; Jimmy Kimmel Live!) to get a little bit of insight into the intriguing dynamic between Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) and Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), as well as whether this film may have had a few hidden Easter Eggs for his next project: Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.
While the trailers previewed an epic struggle between Kang and Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), the Conqueror actually spent a good chunk of his screentime opposite Janet, with flashback scenes setting up their friendship and subsequent betrayal, followed by their reunion in the present.
Throughout all of their encounters, Kang seemed to think quite highly of Janet and, at one point in time, was quite focused on fulfilling his promise to get her out of the Quantum Realm. When we pressed Loveness on this interesting dynamic, he elaborated at length about who he initially saw Kang as, telling me:
"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."
With Quantumania in the rearview mirror and his focus now firmly on Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, it's fair to wonder whether Loveness managed to leave any Easter Eggs for fans that may not be able to be fully appreciated until the next Avengers blockbuster storms into theaters in 2025. When we asked him about the possibility, he reveals,
"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 are 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."
If you still haven't seen the film, make sure to check out our review HERE!
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.