“I can get you home and give you more time,” Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) tells Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) in the Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania trailer, “if you help me.” After Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton) invents “a satellite for deep space, but Quantum,” the Ant-Fam — Scott, Cassie, Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) — are trapped inside the Quantum Realm. It’s there that Ant-Man meets the time lord Kang the Conqueror, a variant of Time Variance Authority founder He Who Remains (Majors), whose death unleashed multiversal madness in the first season finale of Loki.
Why does the time-conquering Kang need help from Earth’s tiniest Avenger? As revealed by Quantumania director Peyton Reed, it’s to escape the Quantum Realm, where Kang finds himself trapped when the Phase 5 movie begins.
“We wanted to explore the Quantum Realm,” Reed said in the latest print issue of Empire Magazine. After glimpses of the subatomic dimension in 2015’s Ant-Man, 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, and 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, the trilogy-ender will spend more time in the dimension where the original Wasp was once trapped for decades.
“It’s a massive, massive world-building undertaking,” Reed said. “It owes in equal part to electron microscope photography, ’70s and ’80s Heavy Metal magazine stuff, a lot of my favorite science-fiction-book cover artists, and there’s a little Mœbius in there. Fantastical realism is the vibe.”
As for Kang, the Conqueror variant is “a very different character” than the time-controlling He Who Remains. “He’s someone who has dominion over time, and he’s a warrior and a strategist,” Reed said. “That’s interesting to me: to take the tiniest, and in some people’s minds weakest, Avenger, and put them up against this absolute force of nature.”
The Ant-Man threequel kicks off Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and sets up 2025’s Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, the first part of an epic that will conclude with the multiversal Avengers: Secret Wars in 2026.
“I think it has a profound impact on the MCU,” the director said of Kang’s arrival. “Jeff Loveness, who wrote [Quantumania], is writing The Kang Dynasty as well, so there’s been a lot of discussion about the impact that this appearance of Kang the Conqueror makes. There are big things in store.”
Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania opens in theaters February 17th, 2023.