Superhero movies often have a fairly binary perspective on morality. While a character like Thanos may have ideals that resonate with some, it’s pretty clear that most of the antagonists in the film are plainly wrong. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania maybe change that, as new antagonist Kang the Conqueror could have a valid point midway through the film.
A recurring theme in the MCU, especially since approx Avengers: Infinity War, is a sacrifice. The heroes lost to Thanos in the film because, as Captain America said, “we don’t trade lives.” Thanos, on the other hand, is willing to sacrifice others and potentially himself for the sake of his goals. Only Iron Man and Black Widow’s sacrifice made it possible to defeat the Mad Titan in the sequel, Avengers: Endgamebecause the Avengers wouldn’t get their hands on the Soul Stone or release their own shots without both of them giving their lives.
In the Quantummania, Kang basically tells Ant-Man/Scott Lang to sacrifice the timeline and other worlds to stop “what’s about to happen” and save his daughter. The Conqueror wants revenge on the people who exiled him, which he thinks will stop the impending danger—though releasing it could cause another timeline to be erased. It turns out that the one who exiled Kang, was Kang, as he was exiled by the menacing Kang Council we saw in the post-credits scene all set to tear apart the new multiverse.
Scott and the rest of the crew follow the usual routine of ignoring these warnings—which is natural, since they come from megalomaniac otherworldly tyrants—and proceed to defeat Kang and return home to enjoy their now hard-earned peace. . It’s all pretty standard for a Marvel movie, because it seems like everything is cool once again.
But this time, the movie ends a little differently. Amidst his happy-go-lucky narrative, Scott begins to panic over whether he’s doing the right thing. He takes down the bad guy, just like he and his allies have done before, but this bad guy seems pretty adamant that there’s an even worse version of himself out there and that killing him means nothing can stop them from causing multiversal chaos.
LokiThe Season 1 finale featured the He Who Remains, a variant of Kang, giving Loki and his partner Sylvie the same warning, saying that killing him would release many of the powerful and tyrannical Kang variants. When he is killed, we learn that he was right—so, QuantummaniaKang. This sets a precedent for the Kang variant to be honest for the “greater good”, which may mean tough times await the new generation of Avengers.
Should Scott trust Kang? Must he sacrifice other people and the timeline for the greater good? Is it more heroic to sacrifice a million to save a billion, or to sacrifice no one, whatever the cost? These are all questions Quantummania introduced which will (hopefully) be revisited in greater detail in future Marvel films. Given next avengers movie called Avengers: Kang Dynasty, it’s safe to say that Kang is at least partly right about the variant. We’ll just have to wait until 2025 to see how right he is and if the recurring theme of sacrifice will take a darker turn.