Why Kang’s Arc In Ant-Man 3 Is Set To Cause More Controversy In MCU’s Upcoming Phase 5 And 6

So Many Kangs Variants, So Little Consistent Character Arc.

by Abhirup Sengupta
Image: Marvel Studios

Marking his second appearance in the MCU, Jonathan Majors finally portrayed his long-awaited take as Kang the Conqueror (Nathaniel Richards) in Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania. However, the decision to include Kang as the primary antagonist against Ant-Man and co. was perhaps not the best choice for the future of the MCU.

While Marvel enthusiasts would understand the difference in the several portrayals of Kang variants by Jonathan Majors, mainstream audiences may be confused over the character’s appearance as an antagonist in multiple properties.

Warning! This article will contain spoilers for Ant-Man And The Wasp Quantamania.

Marvel’s Bold Choice To Pit Kang The Conqueror Against Ant-Man May Affect the Future Of MCU Phase 5 And 6

The primary concern over Kang’s appearance in Ant-Man 3 is due to the way this specific ‘exiled’ variant was portrayed and the ultimate fate of this version. To elaborate, this ‘exiled’ variant of Kang will definitely not be the primary antagonist in Avengers The Kang Dynasty, owing to his apparent demise in Quantamania.

However, this has the potential to chip away at the gravitas of Kang as the ultimate baddie in Avengers The Kang Dynasty. Ant-Man 3‘s portrayal of ‘exiled’ Kang as a truly evil multiversal conqueror is a double-edged sword as the ending also establishes him to be someone whom Ant-Man and his allies defeated.

Related: Ant-Man 3’s Ending and Post-Credit Scenes Hint at Major Developments for Avengers Kang Dynasty and [Spoiler]

The script of Ant-Man and The Wasp Quantamania had a lot of convenient and often absurd plot armor to have Kang beat by Scott Lang, Hope Van Dyne, and a bunch of ‘smart’ ants. However, this contradicts the expected superiority that Kang boasted throughout the film. Similar to comics, Kang (Nathaniel Richards) is supposedly from the 30th Century, which would have provided him with massive technological dominance.

Even in Ant-Man 3, Kang is showcased to have telekinetic abilities, which the conqueror does not use to subdue Scott Lang, Cassie, and others, unless while threatening them. Then, in another instance of absurd plot armor for Ant-Man and other main characters., Kang’s futuristic suit is destroyed by Cassie Lang and Hank Pym’s ants. This further demotes the villain’s technological superiority, which is one of the biggest weapons in Kang’s arsenal in the comics.

How Many Chances Would MCU Take To Set Jonathan Majors’ Kang As A Menacing Villain?!

While there had been instances in Quantamania where Kang the Conqueror asserted an antagonistic dominance over others, the character ultimately lost to Ant-Man. This is rather unfortunate for the character being set up as the ultimate baddie if even one of a low-level heroes like Ant-Man could beat him.

With no offense to Ant-Man fans, the fact that Scott and his family could beat Kang contradicts the villain’s claim of having beaten uber-powerful characters like Thor.

The discrepancy adds on once it is realized that exiled Kang was sort of imprisoned in the Quantum Realm by the council of Kangs (or the Kang Dynasty in the MCU) for the havoc he caused on the multiversal realities and timelines. This begs the question, “If Ant-Man and co. could have beaten Kang; how did he become such an imposing threat in the first place?”

While MCU has showcased Jonathan Kang’s Nathaniel Richards as He Who Remains in Loki Season 1, the variant was clearly portrayed to be different from most Kang variants. Furthermore, his death at the hand of Sylvie was something that he wanted. Unlike the ‘exiled’ Kang variant’s apparent death by the end of Ant-Man 3, which essentially established his loss against Scott Lang, Hope Van Dyne, and their Quantum Realm allies.

The fact that MCU seemingly killed two Kang variants within the span of two phases brings forth concerns over the character’s abilities as a menacing conqueror. Unfortunately, this treatment of Kang in the MCU would draw parallels with Loki’s arc and transition from an anti-hero to a complex villain to a hero. However, unlike in the case of Kang, what worked for Loki is the fact that the majority of this transition was showcased after his turn as the big bad in The Avengers (2012).

Why Would This Representation Of Kang Be Problematic In Future MCU?

To Marvel Studios’ credit, their plan to utilize multiple variants of Kang throughout several projects before ultimately setting him up as the primary antagonist in Avengers The Kang Dynasty is quite bold. However, this may also cause Kang fatigue in mainstream viewers.

Unlike Josh Brolin’s Thanos in the Infinity Saga, Kang would be shown in the MCU multiple times before his appearance in Avengers The Kang Dynasty (2025). This may cause a disconnect in viewers as MCU has already showcased the times Kang variants have lost, i.e., Loki Season 1 and Ant-Man 3, so far. It is plausible that mainstream viewers would find it difficult to perceive Kang as one of the ultimate baddies in The Multiverse Saga.

However, Marvel Studios may decide not to set up any particular Kang variant as the primary villain but instead may opt to establish the Council of Kangs as the main antagonist (as a group). Though such a proposition seems unlikely with the upcoming introduction of the Victor Timely variant in Loki Season 2.

In the comics, Victor Timely was established to be Kang Prime, who could be set up as the one-true Kang and main villain of Avengers The Kang Dynasty. If true, it would be similar to Rick Sanchez Prime from Rick And Morty. Now it remains to be seen if Jeff Loveness (writer, Ant-Man 3), who is set to pen the script of Avengers 5, would follow suit of Rick And Morty, where he was previously associated with.

- This article was updated on February 21st, 2023