"You're out of your league, Ant-Man," Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) tells Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) in new footage from Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. But the tiny-but-mighty Avenger might not be the only one out of his league: director Peyton Reed says the villainous Variant of He Who Remains is a greater threat than even Thanos (Josh Brolin). The Infinity Stone-wielding Mad Titan defined the Infinity Saga, snapping away half of all life in the universe in Avengers: Infinity War before attempting to shred the Marvel Cinematic Universe down to its very last atom in Avengers: Endgame.
So how does Marvel go bigger than that? In kicking off Phase 5 of the MCU, Quantumania introduces a new Avengers-level threat to the entire Multiverse: a time-conquering warmonger unlike any antagonist that size-shifting superheroes Ant-Man and Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) have faced before.
"We're starting off Phase 5 in a big, big way," Reed said during an appearance at CCXP 2022 in Brazil. "This is the biggest adventure that Ant-Man and Wasp have ever gone on. We're going to strange places and we're encountering an antagonist that's unlike anything they've ever experienced — and that includes Thanos."
Kang is also unlike his own multiversal Variant: He Who Remains. Majors appeared in the Loki season finale as the creator of the Time Variance Authority, a timekeeper and master planner who warned of a Multiversal War that threatened the annihilation of countless universes throughout the Multiverse.
"I think that He Who Remains in Loki is very different than Kang the Conqueror in our movie. They're Variants, but they're extremely different people," Reed explained. "Kang is someone who has dominion over time, but he conserves his energy. He's a very, very scary character to deal with, as [Ant-Man and Wasp] find out first hand."
Phases 4, 5, and 6 are part of what Marvel calls the Multiverse Saga, set to conclude with the two-part Avengers: The Kang Dynasty in 2025 and Avengers: Secret Wars in 2026. While 2015's original Ant-Man ended Phase 2, the third and final installment of Reed's trilogy will launch Phase 5.
"Ant-Man ended Phase 2. And now, [Ant-Man is] kicking off Phase 5 in such a huge way, much like Scott Lang himself going from this petty criminal to saving the world in Endgame," added Marvel Studios president and producer Kevin Feige. "I love that the Ant-Man franchise is now at the peak of the MCU and kicking off Phase 5."
Starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kathryn Newton, Bill Murray, and Jonathan Major, Marvel Studios' Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania opens only in theaters February 17th, 2023.