Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania is about to set in motion the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s wildest story arc yet: that of the multiversal juggernaut Kang the Conqueror.
Kang is an incredibly complex character, not just in terms of his motivations but also his very existence. He’s a paradox, having lived for an eternity and constantly interfering with his own past and future through endless time-travel adventures–many of which apparently involved genocide.
In other words, Kang is not really concerned with the same things normal human beings are. His sights are set a bit higher. And, on some level, he is unknowable. But that’s not going to stop Jonathan Majors, who plays the character, from giving it his best shot.
At the Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania press conference ahead of the movie’s launch, Majors discussed Kang and his own personal quest to get a handle on the guy. The discussion thread was prompted by moderator Randall Park asking him to “explain the character and the concept of variants, and what your approach is to playing them.”
Majors acknowledged right off the bat that there’s no easy answer to the question of, “Who is Kang the Conqueror?”
“I think that is a question that we will all be answering for a very long time. I think the quick answer to that is Kang is a time-traveling supervillain who is also a Nexus Being,” Major said, referring to Marvel’s concept of a person with such enormous power that they can affect the multiverse through force of will. Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, is another such being.
Majors continued: “Which leads to this idea of variants. There’s multiple versions of Kang, versions being variants. They occupy different universes, multiverses, they have different intentions. They are all different beings, and yet something that we’re still and I’m still working on and continue to refine and refine and refine, [is] something of a throughline between them. And that, to me, is the Kang gene.”
It’s akin to an actor playing the same character at different ages, but playing a character at 20 and then again at 40 isn’t quite the same as playing a character at a million years old and then playing that character again at a billion years old. It’s a lot to work out.
“This really feels like joining like the Shakespearean troops back in the day, you know, when you have Shakespeare in the room and you’ve got the guys in the room and they’re just like, ‘all right, go!’ you know? And Shakespeare has a very clear idea of what it is they want to do and you have your lead actor, and they kind of set the tempo and the tone that you get in and you get busy, you know,” Majors said.
“And the culture of the play and the story is all there, but it’s really changing. And so, for that, you really have to be very clear about what it is you’re doing and who your character is–the spine of the character, what he’s about, what she’s about, what they’re going after. So, you built that. And the rest of it, you just play hard. At least that was my take: Okay, I think I know, I believe I know until something changes? Play hard, and if we turn left, you turn it left, and you’re in. Kang gotta Kang, you know?”
While reviews on Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania have been split overall, everyone mostly seems to be in agreement on one point: Majors crushed it as Kang in the film, just as he crushed it when he first appeared in the season finale of Loki. So his approach seems to be working so far.