Marvel Producer Compares Kang The Conqueror To Thanos, Identifies Their Biggest Difference

Kang and Thanos in Marvel Cinematic Universe
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is now in a new era. In the Infinity Saga, fans watched as Thanos gathered Infinity Stones with the intention to kill off half of the universe, but now, with the Multiverse Saga, it’s Kang The Conqueror’s time to shine and become the new massive threat that Marvel heroes have to stop. Of course, with that narrative, one of the big challenges currently facing the franchise is making sure that everything feels fresh and original. This means making a concentrated effort to differentiate Kang from Thanos –in terms of the character’s personality and goals as well as utilization in different stories.

The importance of this was stressed last week when I had the opportunity to sit down with Marvel Studios producer/Parliament member Stephen Broussard at the Los Angeles press day for the upcoming Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania – a blockbuster that notably features Kang as its central antagonist. I specifically asked about contrasting the role in the canon played by the new big bad compared to what we previously saw from Thanos, and the filmmaker explained the core difference between the two villains. Said Broussard,

I mean [Josh] Brolin is amazing and Thanos is an incredible kind of singular force with a singular goal. Kang – there's chaos, right? He talks about chaos and we're creating chaos. And to me, that is what's interesting. It's almost like we, the humans, are caught in this war amongst Gods kind of thing as opposed to necessarily the singular drive of Thanos.

Narratively speaking, Thanos’ aims were fairly simple in the unfolding Infinity Saga, but the same can’t really be said of Kang The Conqueror. In the comics, Kang is a time-traveler who possesses remarkable technology and power, and in the MCU it’s been established that he isn’t just a single entity. Prior to Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania, fans have already met a version of the character via the Season 1 finale of Loki (nicknamed He Who Remains), and that all by itself makes him stand out in comparison to Thanos.

Dealing with that complexity in a way that audiences can understand is another hurdle that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to contend with as we get deeper into the Multiverse saga, and it’s something that’s being kept in mind as Kang’s story continues to unfold. As Stephen Broussard explained, each appearance of the character is being utilized to help fans get a better grasp on who he is as we get closer and closer to the action that will unfold in 2025’s Avengers: The Kang Dynasty. Broussard continued,

So just feeling like we're carving new narrative territory, I think, was exciting to us and interesting to us. Every movie has to give you the tools to understand it. That's the burden of any movie, whether you're in the MCU or not. And I think we have to be mindful of that as we go forward getting into these heady concepts like the multiverse, like the quantum realm, like variants, and making sure we give the audience the tools to understand it.

One key way that Marvel filmmakers are making this happen is by not simply keeping Kang as a background villain. With Thanos, fans got glimpses of the character in post-credits scenes and he played a very minor part in the first Guardians of the Galaxy, but the Mad Titan didn’t really make a big splash until Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. This isn’t the strategy being used for Kang, as evidenced by his appearances in Loki and Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania.

Having the Jonathan Majors villain play a more prominent role in the Multiverse Saga is yet another way in which Marvel is hoping to short circuit any comparisons between Kang and Thanos – though there is going to be an effort to not overexpose the character before the adventure in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty. Broussard explained,

I think he already is [a more consistent presence than Thanos]. And I think one of the ways to do that is by making it feel so radically different, which we touched on a little bit earlier. So it doesn't feel like you're getting Kang before Kang Dynasty too much.

One useful tool in the effort to not overdo it with Kang is the fact that there are multiple variants. He Who Remains and the Kang in Ant-Man 3 are different entities, and Marvel is leaning on the remarkable talents of Jonathan Majors to offer something special and different when his MCU character appears in different Multiverse Saga films and television shows. The producer added,

I think we're really looking to Jonathan [Majors] to keep that aloft and keep it interesting and feel like 'I'm getting a completely different character with his own wants and needs and problems and intimidations and everything each time' – in a way that maybe Thanos perhaps couldn't have sustained, which is why you saw more of a drum roll and then he took center stage.

All of it is very exciting for Marvel fans, and we only have to wait a few more days before we get to see Kang in action on the big screen. Kicking off Phase 5 (the middle phase of the Multiverse Saga), Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania will be in theaters everywhere this Friday, February 17.

While you continue to count down the days to the arrival of the new MCU blockbuster, you can rewatch Loki with the use of a Disney+ subscription. You can also keep track of everything that is in the works for the franchise via our Upcoming Marvel Movies and Upcoming Marvel TV guides, and get a firm grasp on the canon’s timeline with our Marvel Movies In Order feature.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.