The Inverse Interview

Quantumania’s Kang is Just a “Taste” of Marvel’s Biggest Villain Yet, Producer Says

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania has been a long time coming.

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Working within a well-established world with strict rules like the Marvel Cinematic Universe can be difficult. But creating an entirely new world is the biggest challenge that Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania producer Stephen Broussard has faced.

“We’re building this secret universe from scratch,” Broussard tells Inverse.

It’s a world that’s been teased since the first Ant-Man — and which we got our first secret glimpse of in Ant-Man and the Wasp. But the Quantum Realm is finally shown in all its glory in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the movie that kicks off the Marvel’s Phase Five and introduces the franchise’s next great villain: Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors).

Broussard, who was an executive producer on Loki where Majors made his debut as the Kang variant He Who Remains, was instrumental in properly establishing the stakes of the MCU’s new Big Bad.

“It’s about delivering on an evolution of the [Kang] character,” Broussard says. “We got a taste of where it's going next. And that is radically different.”

Inverse spoke to Broussard about finally getting to explore the Quantum Realm, dramatically switching genres with Quantumania, and why we probably won’t expect a Young Avengers movie anytime soon.

Ant-Man and Kang in Quantumania.

Marvel Studios

We’ve been building up to Quantumania for quite some time now. Now, we finally get to see the Quantum Realm. Was it exciting to finally show the Quantum Realm as a whole dimension teeming with life as opposed to the mysterious void it's implied to be in previous movies?

For sure, it was very exciting. It was also sort of hands down the hardest part of this movie, just because there was so much worldbuilding. We’re building this secret universe from scratch. And it draws from a lot of science fiction and a lot of space operas and things like that. But we sort of challenge ourselves at every turn: what's the quantum version of this? How can it feel like the rules are a little skewed and a little different?

And the conversations for doing that started when the movie was done [with 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp]. We had put some little Easter eggs when they found Janet that could hint to more life and more civilization down there. That's these DVD freeze moments if you want to look for them. And once we got into it, it was a big world. Everything is designed from scratch, every character, every rule of physics, every location. Because it's a bit of a road movie as they're kind of traversing point A to point B. So it was super exciting to get a chance to kick the door down to all that and an immense challenge to do it, but we had the best team in the business led by Peyton Reed to do it. So it was fun, it was really exciting.

You mentioned Easter eggs from Ant-Man and the Wasp that hinted at the Quantum Realm. Can you name one of those Easter eggs?

I think people have found it before. There's a moment when Hank finally rescues Janet and they are making their escape back up to our world in his quantum pod, his sled there. And in the background, you see sort of this domed city, this glass city that mixes in with the background there, but it's oddly architectural. So it's like, “Wait a second did I just see a bubble of a cell or something microscopic? Was that architecture, was that actually a city?” And it was inspired by a very specific piece of comic book art. That was our laying our marker down for Part Three. But you never know if you're gonna get a chance to do another one.

The hidden city in Ant-Man and the Wasp.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

The first Ant-Man movie was clearly embedded in the heist genre while Ant-Man and the Wasp felt like an ‘80s crime comedy. But Quantumania takes the boldest departure of the series and plays like a Star Wars movie. Was it always intended to be “Marvel’s take on Star Wars”?

It was always intended to be very different. We're very lucky to be making a Part Three, we don't take that for granted. Any filmmaker that gets three movies deep in any story is extremely fortunate that an audience is there for them. And if you get that chance, if you get the chance to have a third at-bat, you almost have a duty to try to do something different.

I love those first two Ant-Man movies. I didn't make the first one, that was another one of my colleagues, Brad Winderbaum. I produced the second one with Peyton and we talked about “one bad night” movies you know. We talked about After Hours, Martin Scorsese's movie that inspired us a lot, or Go, that movie was a favorite of mine. Movies from that time period. And we've kind of done these small San Francisco-based movies that are crime genre explorations. So we didn't want to do that again.

But we love those characters. We love this dysfunctional, extended, chosen family. And we've really got to know them over the course of these movies. So the big idea was: grab those characters, pick them up, and put them in a sci-fi epic. And not only that, put them against the biggest bad coming in the MCU, which is Kang as played by Jonathan Majors. And there's an unexpected quality to that, this unlikely dysfunctional family that has carried secrets. Scott almost fell into being an Avenger. Hope had to fight for years to even get her chance in the Wasp suit. It’s a very unlikely scenario of all that going against this villain in this kind of movie. So it's unexpected, and I think that's what's fun about it. And I hope people are with us for the genre shift.

“This version [of Kang] is cold as ice. The phrase Jonathan uses is ‘no moves wasted.’ He knows he's the baddest person in the room, and he's gonna act accordingly.”

Quantumania is the first film of Marvel’s Phase 5 and also carries the burden of introducing the Phase’s Big Bad, Kang. What was the main goal in introducing Kang and giving us our first real impression of him?

It was about further exploring a really interesting idea. Has there ever been an actor that played different versions of the same character, and they're all so radically different? It's incredibly unique, I think, in the history of movies. And I was lucky enough I executive produced Loki, as I was around the first time Jonathan was in front of the cameras for us. That version of Kang, He Who Remains, is radically different from the version of Kang that is in this film, and I could kind of cross I could go between I could talk to Paige and I could talk to Kate on on Loki and, and Kevin Feige, of course, like I kind of had a sense of where it was going and the kind of actor we needed.

So for this film, it was about delivering on an evolution of the character. He Who Remains has probably lost his marbles a little bit being at the end of time by himself. And Jonathan plays it like that — a little unpredictable. This version is cold as ice. The phrase Jonathan uses is “no moves wasted.” He knows he's the baddest person in the room, and he's gonna act accordingly. And there's a chillingness to how quiet he is and how calm he is because he knows something I don't. It's about delivering on that and feeling like you get enough from here, but that you're so excited for where it's gonna go, because he is a big part of the MCU moving forward. And I think we're getting that by seeing how different you can be and what he's going to bring to this. We got a taste of where it's going next. And that is radically different. I couldn't think of a better actor to embody this role.

William Jackson Harper in Quantumania.

Marvel Studios

We also get a whole host of colorful Quantum characters in the Freedom Fighters led by Jentorra. Which was your favorite and can we expect any of them to return in future Marvel projects?

I love them all. Jentorra is amazing. She's got such strength. And it's such a cool character who’s played by Katie. It was awesome to see, you know, David Dastmalchian. It's such a weird joke, and people seem to like it, the “holes” [running gag]. But for my money, William Jackson Harper is hilarious in every frame of this film and delivers that comedy so effortlessly, I really enjoy him in this film. And you know, we've kicked on a whole door on this whole other continent in the MCU, which is the Quantum Realm. And we have a pretty good track record of meeting characters, and then falling in love with them and finding more stories to tell. So nothing to announce today, but I love those characters and absolutely, I'd love to do more with them down the road.

Cassie gets effectively reintroduced in Quantumania as an aspiring hero who could be part of the next generation of heroes. Can we talk about how her character here sets the foundation for when we might see her next, perhaps in Young Avengers, for example?

There's no Young Avengers plan or film per se that's announced. But a lot of Phase Four was about introducing the next generation and introducing new characters. And I think it's very germane to the Ant-Man film because it's a generational film. The Ant-Man mantle gets passed down from Hank to Scott and now, essentially, to Cassie, who's almost more of like the new Ant-Man, even though she doesn't go by such, more so than the new Wasp. And you see that happen between Janet and Hope, of course.

It's one of the themes of the movie. When you speak about the Young Avengers or wherever that might go, it's "the fight’s never over." That's what she tells her father, that's a lesson I think each generation has to learn, that life keeps going, and you may have had victories and you may have fought for progress, but you have to keep going. And I think that's one of the themes that the next generation reminds us, and that would be exciting to explore with Cassie going forward, or with any of the new characters, like Kate Bishop. People like that, that have inherited the mantle, and keep fighting the fight and make the world a better place. Which is ultimately one of the themes that runs throughout Marvel.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania opens in theaters February 17.

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