The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been no stranger to great expectations. As we’ve gone through each phase the hype has grown to an impossible level to measure. From YouTube Easter eggs to fan theories and fan casts there’s been a bit of disappointment. Whether it’s warranted or not we have arrived at an interesting point as MCU fans. Phase 5 begins with Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania and there’s a high level of anticipation. Sure, it’s great to see Scott, Hope, Cassie, and the rest of the crew. However, we know why we’re really here and his name is Kang.
Kang The Conqueror is synonymous with greatness. He is one of the greatest villains of all time, and one of the more fascinating characters in comic book lore. He’s time-bending; he’s mind-bending; he’s a threat unlike any other in Marvel. When time travel was introduced in Avengers: Endgame, the thought for many fans who are studious to this is that Kang could not be far behind. Lo and behold, he is here. Now take this into consideration, when you are casting for this role you need a heavy hitter. You need the best, the absolute best. Enter Jonathan Majors.
At the end of Loki Season 1, at the end of time, both Loki and Sylvie were introduced to He Who Remains, a variant of Kang, who had been pulling all the strings. Before his death at the hands of Sylvie, He Who Remains shared some weighty thoughts. “You may hate the dictator, but something… far worse is gonna fill that void if you dispose of him. I’ve lived a million lifetimes. I’ve gone through every scenario. This is the only way.” These are words we hung on and were captivated by. The delivery, the playfulness, and the all-knowing fatigue of that power was mystifying. We’ve seen great performances in the MCU, wrought with great emotion and full of surprises. This was the most electrifying performance we’ve seen to date in the franchise.
There’s a level of expectation to deliver that Majors superseded. The bar has been raised. This wasn’t even the actual character that he was playing. Just a version. One, singular version. Kevin Feige and Co. have made a decision to build this saga around this gentleman and it will pay off in spades. We are not prepared for what we are about to see. You just have to sit back and enjoy it. If you want variants you’re getting them. If you want a compelling character you’re getting that tenfold. You’re probably saying to yourself that this is overhype, this is hyperbole. It’s not. In fact it’s underselling the point.
To make a bit of a comparison, there’s a conversation when it comes to Denzel Washington as an all-time great that in his movies he’s always Denzel. It’s an endearing quality that we love to mention. Jonathan Majors disappears into his roles. Like a chameleon, you only know the character and the person is replaced. There’s a specific scene in The Last Black Man In San Francisco that explains what can’t be explained here. If you get a chance watch that movie, and if you have relive this scene.
When you watch this scene you understand the talent and why he was chosen to anchor Phase 5 of the MCU. In an interview with Empire magazine, Majors discussed playing the villain and what that entails. “Kang adds tonal diversity, real conflict and real friction,” he promises. “You’re being introduced to a new vibration in the MCU. There’s conflict – not just mano-a-mano, not just hero and villain, but your way of life’ and ‘my way of life’. I’m coming for it. We’re in battle here.” That sounds like someone ready to wear the crown.
Usually, with a villain, we have a foreboding sense of fear of what might happen. As fans, you can feel the level of excitement when Kang is mentioned, theorized about and discussed. We just know we’re getting something special, and this is why we go to the movies.
It is extremely rare to feel ready to sit back and watch greatness. There won’t be a worry and there won’t be a thought about whether Quauntumania has a bad post-credit scene or was too long or too short. There will be a moment when the MCU once again raises expectations for us and then they are met because they chose the right man to lead the way. You’re out of your league, Ant-Man. It’s just another reminder that Jonathan Majors is here to conquer, for all time.