Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania writer Jeff Loveness recently explained why he and Marvel Studios chose to show Kang get defeated in his first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic while also being the next big overarching villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In a lengthy interview with The Hollywood Reporter about the film, Loveness explained his reasoning on why he chose to have Kang be defeated.
He said, “Well, I think you root for someone who knows defeat. Thanos says that he knows what it’s like to lose, but we never see him lose until the end of Endgame. All he does is toss away the people that he loves and beat Thor’s ass. (Laughs.)”
“But yes, it’s a risk, and we certainly took some heat for it. But I am willing to bet that we are going to root for a guy that we’ve seen stumble and fall, much like Chris Claremont’s Magneto from those X-Men comics,” he asserted.
Loveness continued his comparison with Magneto, “That guy loses a lot, and we see how much pain he’s been through. And so by the time he really unleashes that rage, we’re on his side and we kind of get it.”
“So I think we’re allowed to have a villain that takes a few shots along the way as [Kang the Conqueror or his variants] make their rise,” he added.
He then attempted to justify the decision by pointing to how Loki was defeated by Thor in the first Thor film. “Loki also loses pretty hard in that first Thor movie, and so by the time he rolls back around, we get more of his baggage,” Loveness relayed.
Next, he claims his defeat is to show that he is human and they wanted to highlight his emotions, “But once again, the big distinction between Thanos and Kang is that Kang is more of a human being. And so his defeat was a way to showcase his humanity and his unending passion.”
“If you go back in the comics, you can beat Thanos once, and that’s the end of the day,” Loveness says. “Kang is not a guy that you can beat once; he is an existential problem. And so he doesn’t care if he loses because he’s got nothing but time.”
If you go back into the comics specifically to Kang’s first appearance in Avengers #8, he is a character you can beat once given he’s a single entity. The Avengers do indeed beat him. In fact, Thor uses Mjolnir to reflect a radiation attack back at Kang.
Realizing that he’s about to get soundly defeated he flees back into his ship and uses his advanced technology to evade The Avengers detection and escape into an unknown place in time. He lives to fight on, but it’s very clear he could have been soundly defeated.
Loveness did go on to reveal that he and Marvel Studios did discuss including “seismic deaths” in the movie.
“They were,” Loveness told The Hollywood Reporter. “We certainly gamed out a ton of scenarios, but it just felt a little obvious. It’s up for debate, but it just felt like we’d be copying the Thanos approach where he comes in pretty heavy and wipes the floor with everybody.”
He continued, “I certainly see the critiques and all that, but this is a multi-step story that we’re telling. It’s also an Ant-Man movie. (Laughs.) I think people say they want that, but do you really want to see Paul Rudd get murdered in his third movie?”
Again, going back to Kang’s original appearance, it’s not difficult to show Kang as a major threat to the villains while also showing the heroes winning. As noted and shown above, The Avengers do indeed defeat Kang the Conqueror in his first appearance.
However, Kang shows he’s an enormous threat by handily defeating the Avengers earlier in the story. Kang uses his superior technology to trap the Avengers in an attractor ray and then imprison them in a paralysis beam.
Loveness went on to reveal, “It was all debated, all discussed and all gamed out, but in The Wizard of Oz, you don’t want to see Dorothy die and never go home. It’s supposed to be one of these classic adventure movies.”
“If everyone gets eaten in Jurassic Park, I don’t know if you’ll want to see the next Jurassic Park. But I wouldn’t worry too much about Kang’s kill count. He’s going to rack up some kills as he goes along,” Loveness asserted.
This rationalization falls flat given Avengers: Endgame grossed nearly $800 million more than Avengers: Infinity War. In Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos achieves victory and defeats the Avengers and their allies. Clearly, people went back to the theaters to see the next Avengers film to see how the Avengers were going to fight back against Thanos.
Loveness also went on to reveal that Quantum Realm banishments and imprisonments were also discussed, “Yeah, absolutely. That was all stuff we debated, and on paper, it seemed thrilling. But at the end of the day, we’d literally be copying the exact same beat from the end of the last Ant-Man movie.”
“There also weren’t a lot of ways to go that were different from Endgame. If Scott gets trapped in the Quantum Realm like he does in the last movie’s ending, then the only way to go is that he gets out of the Quantum Realm like he does in Endgame,” he elaborated.
This answer also does not hold water given the actual film offers a separate alternative to getting out of the Quantum Realm in the form of Kang’s Time Chair. Scott and his comrades are also able to flee the Quantum Realm through the creation of a portal using a Power Core.
The film could have also ended with Kang coming out on top rather than being defeated without him actually killing anyone. He could have instead enslaved Scott and his family, imprisoned them, or any other number of options. From there Kang could have sent one of the heroes back as a messenger to let the Avengers and earth know he was coming and there was nothing they could do to stop him.
You could have also had Kang kill the Ant-Man family, but reveal in a post-credit scene that this was actually taking place in another timeline or universe with this alternate Ant-Man sending a message to the main Ant-Man warning him about Kang.
Next, Loveness bizarrely compared Scott Lang to Charlie Brown and Spider-Man, “Scott Lang, much like Spider-Man or Charlie Brown, is a man who’s been through constant pain, loss and sorrow. And so the more unexpected thing would be to maybe give him a happy ending, but with the lack of assurance that he has in the first act.”
“There’s this ever-gnawing sense of dread in him, whereas at the top of the movie, he’s carefree while his family are keeping secrets from him,” Loveness elaborated. “And now we end the movie with his family carefree, but he has this secret that he’s keeping. He has this feeling of approaching dread, and he’s choosing to bury that terrible sinking feeling that’s coming for him.”
You get this dread with the aforementioned suggestion of him receiving a message showing Kang destroying a separate time line or universe. However, it also provides hope because he has the warning and he can work with the Avengers and their allies on preparing to fight Kang.
What do you make of Loveness’ explanation for why they chose to have Kang, the next big Marvel Cinematic Universe villain, get defeated in his first appearance?