Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania Theory: Kang Has Already Won

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is now in theaters and that means the theories about what’s next for the Marvel Cinematic Universe have already begun to form as fans try to figure out exactly where the story goes from here. Part of the theorizing comes from the events of the film itself with some of the twists and turns leaving fans wondering exactly how we get from this film to Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and part of the theorizing comes from fan expectations for what the third Ant-Man film was supposed to do versus what it actually did. But somewhere in all the details of the film, Phase 4 of the MCU before it, and comics generally, there’s a big theory that comes together one that, if correct, may change how people ultimately view Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania and be leading to something bigger than even the Infinity Saga could have ever hoped to be.

This is, admittedly, a complicated theory but the crux of it is this: Kang has actually already won and the path for how the heroes are about to get wrecked has already been very clearly laid for us. But to get into it, we have to get into spoilers so warning: major spoilers for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania beyond this point.

At the heart of this theory is the simple assertion that Kang from Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is Kang Prime and that despite audiences seeing him “die” in the film, he not only survived, but that was part of his strategy from the start. To put a finer point on things, the heroes of the film did not win like they thought they did — not even on a “small battle” scale. The defeat of Kang in the film was his plan and everything is about to get worse from there.

Kang won — and the clues are all right in Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania.

While the film makes it appear that Kang (Jonathan Majors) was killed (or at best, defeated) when he was pulled into the power core of his ship, there are plenty of clues that suggest otherwise. The biggest one would be the most obvious: no body, no crime. While that by itself isn’t necessarily a smoking gun, when you put it into context with some other things in the film you start to get the same unsettled feeling that Scott (Paul Rudd) has at the end of the film. First, Scott is told very clearly that Kang’s death will be the beginning of something far, far worse but the worse thing coming isn’t defined. Second, there are a few lines in the movie that jump out as being of particular interest. Kang tells Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) that time doesn’t work the way we think it does as well as once one is able to be outside of time, you can see it for the cage it actually is. That feels pretty important, as does the exchange between Kang and Scott where Kang tells him “You thought you could win” and Scott replies that they just both have to lose.”

Let’s break that down for a moment. Scott is right that they both have to “lose” or, rather, appear to lose. While Kang winning directly and getting to depart the Quantum Realm with his ship and his army would accomplish his goal, Kang is playing a longer game here. Let’s say he gets out and heads off to his greater plan. That’s the sort of thing that will directly cause alarm and would get attention immediately from various forms of resistance — including his own enemies that sent him there in the first place. However, an escape that is disguised as death buys him time and he’s already asserted that time doesn’t work the way we think it does. That power core allows him to travel anywhere in time and the Multiverse so it stands to reason that entering it would allow him to do the same thing but perhaps go undetected. By being sucked into that core, Kang could very easily be shunted off into another timeline or reality where he could hide out and work his plan from afar.

“Kang will return.”

The idea that Kang the Conqueror actually won and used a “defeat” to cover his actual escape actually ties into another clue from the movie, thanks to the post-credits scenes. The first post-credits scene (mid-credits scene, really) shows the Council of Kangs gathering to discuss Kang the Conqueror’s death. Between his apparent death and that of He Who Remains in Loki season 1, the Council determines that there’s too much interest in the Multiverse by the heroes of Earth-616 so they start to put in motion their own uprising. But here’s what’s interesting about that scene. While it’s intended to make the audience realize that Kang wasn’t lying when he said something worse was coming and suggest that these guys are the “something worse”, if you look carefully at the primary variants featured, none of them go by the name Kang. We have Scarlet Centurion, we have Rama Tut, we have Immortus. All variants, none of them named “Kang”. While the card “Kang will return” at the end of everything could be a general Kang of it all, it seems more likely that the card means the literal Kang the Conqueror we just met.

That in turn brings us to the other post-credits scene, the one that sees Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Mobius (Owen Wilson) spotting what seems to be on another Kang variant — Victor Timely — sometime in the 1900s. But here’s the thing about Victor Timely: in the comics, Timely is in fact Kang Prime, aka Kang the Conqueror, in disguise. In comics, he founds the city of Timely, Wisconsin but the city also houses a portal to his base, Chronopolis. Chronopolis looks an awful lot like Kang’s city in Ant-Man 3. The idea that Kang the Conqueror would shunt himself somewhere else in the timeline/Multiverse, take up an assumed identity, and quietly operate and build himself an empire, well, Alexa, play “Mastermind” by Taylor Swift because none of this is accidental. While the Council is out causing a ruckus, the heroes will be distracted, Timely can do the dang thing, and we will ultimately end up in a place where Kang the Conqueror reveals himself and all hell is going to break loose.

Unreliable sources and the lack of a team

Now, some might argue at this point that Loki and Mobius showing up and spotting Timely throws a wrench in the plan just as Scott and by extension Janet knowing about Kang broadly could also be a hindrance but look carefully at everyone with direct knowledge of Kang and or the Multiverse and a pattern emerges: they’re all unreliable sources.

I’m going to go a little off tangent here to talk about something completely unrelated: the 2000 film Mission to Mars. In very broad terms, the film saw astronauts go to Mars, but the first mission ends with everyone dead except one astronaut, Luke (played by Marvel star Don Cheadle). A rescue mission is sent but three of the four astronauts sent all have either experienced a major tragedy and are enduring grief or, in the case of one of them, died on the rescue mission. The film ends with the two surviving astronauts who are experiencing grief and trauma finding the lost astronaut as well as discovering the truth about life on Earth and the Martians. The one astronaut who has not experienced a psychological trauma remains on the ship. While one of the astronauts choose to go with the Martians to their new home, the two others return to Earth but it’s made clear that no one is going to believe their tale of what they saw because of the impact their grief and experiences have had on their psychological state. They are, therefore, unreliable witnesses.

If you look at the people who have encountered Kang — particularly those with the most direct encounters — they’re all dealing with some sort of trauma that would make them unreliable witnesses/sources. Janet spent decades in the Quantum Realm. Scott spent the Blip years there and had a hard shock when he came out and found many of the people he loved gone. Loki literally died and has been wrangling with that knowledge — not to mention all of his other issues — throughout the first season of Loki. Take things out further to those who are most directly acquainted with the Multiverse, Scarlet Witch (provided she’s alive) is already written off as unreliable and unstable because of, well, everything she’s been through. Peter Parker/Spider-Man has also endured trauma and grief at a significant scale. Doctor Strange used the Darkhold and was corrupted. America Chavez lost her mothers. Each of the characters are most likely to have working knowledge or at least a strong sense of the threat that Kang presents, but people are unlikely to believe them because they have “issues”. Layering things further, Scott in particular is unreliable because he’s “sold out” as it were. He’s only barely an Avenger as compared to the rest of the team, but he’s put himself most out there as a hero thanks to his book. Given that we’ve seen how life has largely moved forward in the years since Thanos’ defeat, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that the public would see him claiming a new threat as clout chasing as everyone’s moves on from his “fifteen minutes” as it were.

Phase 4’s real purpose

The idea that Earth has largely moved on from The Blip and might not be ready to believe another extinction level threat could be coming is something we’ve seen a few times now — and it turns out that might be the real purpose of Phase 4. One of the common complaints about Phase 4 is that it feels disjointed or like there is no connective tissue, not in the way that the early films of the Infinity Saga did. However, if you look at the films and series carefully, there is in fact a subtle thread: they function as one-shots showing what reality now looks like. Each of the projects in Phase 4 show the heroes and the world moving beyond post-Blip. Even Black Widow, which takes place mostly in the past, is actually setting up the idea that the world has moved on when we get to the end and see Yelena mourning her sister and Valentina recruiting her to kill Hawkeye. We’re not looking at global threats anymore. We’re looking at a back to business-as-usual situation all while getting hints about how society has also moved on. Spider-Man: No Way Home reveals some of the struggles that those who have returned are dealing with, something that is further reinforced in Ant-Man 3 with Cassie’s mention of the homeless. Hawkeye gave us “Rogers: The Musical” which offered a weirdly lighthearted take on the Battle of New York — one that erroneously included Ant-Man. A few years on, and the world is trying to move away from its trauma by almost pretending it never happened or wasn’t as disruptive as it truly was and that is the point of Phase 4. It establishes how different the world is now and how scattered the heroes are. It’s a phase that has revealed just how this reality is primed for someone like Kang the Conqueror to come take it unaware. That is something that is likely come into sharper focus as we get deeper into Phase 5 and beyond.

We have a lot of ground to cover before Avengers: The Kang Dynasty arrives.

What this all means is that Kang is playing a very long game and he’s playing it a level no one sees coming. Simply put, Kang the Conqueror is playing 6-head 12-D chess while everyone else is badly playing checkers whilst eating glue thinking they’ve won. The reality is that Kang is playing everyone: the heroes who have encountered him, his own variants, time itself. And because we have several movies and projects to get through before Kang fully emerges as a threat, we as audiences are likely to see exactly how his plan comes together with the Council going to Multiversal war and the other heroes having their own individual things to deal with in their own franchises that will keep the “Avengers” disconnected while Kang puts his pieces in place. The good guys aren’t going to see this one coming at all and they are going to be even more unprepared than ever to handle it.

Kang didn’t lose in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. If anything, he won on a very big scale and our heroes just can’t see it yet. Scott was right, they both had to lose – just for Kang that loss was really the biggest victory of them all.


Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is in theaters now.