Marvel Studios has always had the big picture in mind. For the Infinity Saga, it was the Mad Titan Thanos who was bent on bringing balance to the universe by wiping out half of life in it. Now, Kevin Feige is building up the Multiverse Saga with the MCU’s latest big bad: the time-traveling multiverse villain Kang the Conquerer, played by Jonathan Majors.
So for Majors to become one of many different versions of the conquerer in Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, he underwent an interesting study regiment and likened the experience to joining a Shakespearian troupe. And the result shows us the nuances of playing multiple versions of the same character by one actor.
MCU fans had already met one version of Kang the season one finale of Loki, where he revealed himself as He Who Remains. The enigmatic founder of the TVA charged himself with protecting the sacred timeline from his other Variants, including Kang. And Majors takes a psychological approach to becoming a specific Kang. “The prep really comes down to who my director is, and who my hero is. Because as an antagonist, we’re following our heroes,” he said. “In this case, I had a few to kind of look at and break down, which is the fun part. I look at them and I figured out okay, you can’t antagonize somebody if you don’t know who they are. If you don’t know what’s the opposite of them, right? If you don’t know what their hopes and dreams are. My objective is to do that antagonized in order to get what I need to fulfill my life, my dream.”
So that understanding of antagonization started in Loki, where the actor got to spend a lot of time with Tom Hiddleston. And his study of him would eventually carry over to Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. “I’m dealing with Tom, you know, it was great. He Who Remains and Tom. I got to watch him the whole time. This opportunity came to me in lockdown. And so I studied Tom Hiddleston, four hours a day,” Majors said. “When that was done, I went okay, Paul Rudd, you’re up. And I studied him and I studied on all his hero colleagues and compatriots.”
For Majors, there is an understanding that Kang has to relate to the everyday man and human in Scott. And by doing so Kang can get Scott to do something for him. “There’s a line that He Who Remains says,’you’re just flesh and blood,” Majors said. “He has to relate to him first, as a man and as a human being. Then we can combat that I can get him to do what I need them to do, perhaps. Right, you know, in the rest of it, there’s always bookwork.”
Because there are multiple variants of one character, it allows Majors to approach Kang and He Who Remains differently. The role excited the actor so much that he compared it to joining a Shakespearean troupe. “When you have Shakespeare in the room, and you’ve got the guys in the room, they just like, ‘Alright, go.’ Shakespeare has a very clear idea of what it is they want to do, and you have your lead actor, and they kind of set the tempo and a tone, you get in, and you get busy,” he said. “The culture of the play, and the story is all there, but it’s really changing. And so for that, you really have to be very clear about what it is you’re doing and who your character is, what he’s about, and what they’re going after.”
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania opens in theaters on February 17, 2022.