Right now, if you want to know about Kang’s future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the person to talk to is Jeff Loveness. Loveness, best known for his work on Rick & Morty, not only wrote Marvel’s current hit Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, he’s also writing Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, the fifth Avengers film currently set for release May 2, 2025. And since that script is still being worked on, technically Loveness probably knows just a tiny bit more about it than even the man who hired him, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige.
Earlier this week, Loveness took a break from formulating the next Avengers adventure to talk to io9 about all of his Marvel exploits. We discussed setting the table for Phase Five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the choices that went into Quantumania’s ending, how many Avengers Kang has killed, and what it’s like writing The Kang Dynasty using characters and stories fans won’t see for years.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
Germain Lussier, io9: When you were hired to write Quantumania, how aware were you that this film was going to be such a table setter for Phase Five and the overarching importance of Kang?
Jeff Loveness: Oh, I mean, I just saw it as one movie. I’m not part of the inner cabal [of Marvel] that meets underneath the Vatican or something [laughs]. I’m not part of that Volturi vampire enclave or something. I just tried to look at it as “Hey, you got an opportunity to write a really fun adventure comedy movie with a compelling villain played by literally the best actor in the world right now.” I think as soon as you start looking down the road, you get in trouble. So I tried to lay down a few train tracks, but the job for me was “Make Kang compelling and make this movie fun and keep it moving.”
io9: So when you signed on, you didn’t know it was going to be this big introduction to Phase Five?
Loveness: Oh I don’t know what phase we’re on.
Loveness: I have heard the term “Phase Five” more in the last two months than [the entire time making the movie.] [Laughs] No, I think that’s more of almost a thing for the internet than anything. Like, obviously there are 30 Marvel movies. You want them to connect. You want to propel them into the next phase, which this is the beginning of. We’ve got a plan and it’s going to be very exciting with Avengers. But in the back of my head, I’m a kid from a small town of like 200 people. We didn’t even have a movie theater in my town. So in the back of my head I thought “My cousin’s going to go watch this. Who knows if he’s seen Loki? Let’s just make a fun movie.” Even if you just know who Paul Rudd is, you kind of get what’s going on. Context clues will help you out with the rest.
[Note: The rest of the interview should be considered massive spoilers]
io9: Now, when Hope goes back to save Scott, I thought there was a chance they might get stuck together in the Quantum Realm. Obviously, Cassie then saves them but was there ever any discussion of them getting stuck as a bigger cliffhanger?
Loveness: Yeah. We always, especially in those third acts, you game out all those things. You pitch them out. It’s a lot of story circles from the old Dan Harmon school of trying to do what feels best for the arcs and all that. And, yeah, certainly, that’s an avenue we discussed. But I think at the end of the day there was no getting around “Oh, it’s Ant-Man stuck in the Quantum Realm again.” And I think that kind of killed it. As much as that is powerful stuff and as much as that is exciting and romantic—and certainly I’m a fan of that as well, and we had discussed these things—I think the ending that we have, especially on second viewings, is going to actually land in ways that maybe [feel] a little more subtle. Because if Ant-Man is stuck in the Quantum Realm again, we have quite literally already seen that at the end of the second movie. Then it’s the same exact beat in whatever Avengers becomes. It’s like, “Oh yeah, he’s out of the Quantum Realm again, propelling the plot forward.” It felt like it wasn’t going to give us new avenues.
Whereas this one… I think it’s actually cooler to have the guy who was so carefree and who thought his heroic days were behind him now ends the movie like Frodo coming back to the Shire. You had your adventure, but you’re not the same guy anymore. You don’t have that ease of mind. And as much as you want to eat that cake and try to give your daughter that fake birthday, you know that maybe you messed up. I think a compelling thing is that the guy who quite literally saved the universe in the last Phase might accidentally be the guy who fucks up the Multiverse in this Phase. Like, let’s see in the future. We’ll see what happens, man.
io9: Well, if anyone knows it’s you. Now, one of the big lines that Marvel used to promote the movie was Kang asking Scott if he’d killed them before, because he’s killed so many Avengers. You can’t say something like that in an MCU movie without fans starting to speculate. So did you figure out which Avengers he has killed or how many times he’s killed certain ones, or is that just kind of out there and maybe gets answered at some point?
Loveness: I think that’s a line that only Kang can say and that was one of the first lines I ever wrote for him. That really helped me get the voice of this character and that was one of the first things we ever rehearsed. And I was very nervous because with a lesser actor… I was like, “I think this could be a great line or it could be downright shitty. Let’s see how this feels.” And Jonathan Majors walks up in that first rehearsal and he just says it with a chilling tone. And I just remember the thrill in my head of like, “Oh, I think this is going to work.” This guy can deliver lines like, “I will burn you out of time.” He can say those things and actually convey it and actually mean it.
The joy of the character is that we got to introduce him in a non-linear fashion. This is not a Kang origin story. This is a guy who’s been around the block a lot. Like he said, “I don’t live in a straight line.” And so I think the joy of the character is we’re meeting him kind of at the tail end of something. And so you get to paint a lot of tapestries. But will he kill Thor? Has he killed Thor? How many Thors has he killed? That is something that will be, you know, maybe explored further. We’ll see.
io9: Speaking of Kang, obviously you’re writing him again in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty. That’s got to be an interesting process because you’re writing this movie based on all these other movies, most of which don’t exist yet. Some of them exist in different forms but in others, there are no actors, no directors. What’s it like writing a movie when you have all this sort of raw material that’s not even formed yet?
Loveness: Yeah, it’s definitely a tricky thing. But much like when I took on this Ant-Man job, I can’t really focus on that outside stuff. I have just got to lay down the bones of a good story, hopefully, and find the characters that I want to tell [it]. And then it becomes a game of ping pong with the other people. Like whoever comes on and does Fantastic Four or Blade or—I’m probably not even using those characters, you know—but it all informs itself. And so, you just keep an ear open if [someone says], “Hey, if Blade wants to jump in, go for it, man.” But it’s up to me to focus on my movie and, you know, work with [Michael] Waldron a little bit on his thing [Note: Waldron is writing the following Avengers movie, Secret Wars] to make sure it all kind of makes sense. But I think the second you start looking at the 25 other movies coming out, you get a little lost in the sauce.
io9: And how much is that collaboration happening between you and director Destin Daniel Cretton, especially this early?
Loveness: Oh, he’s been there since like day one when I came in to pitch and he’s great. Have you seen Short Term 12?
io9: Oh, I’m quoted in the trailer. I love it so much.
Loveness: Oh, wonderful. I went to see that in a theater and I think I was one of the only people in there, it was late into its run in some Laemmle theater in LA and like, man, that scene where Lakeith Stanfield finally opens up to Brie Larson and stuff? It’s so intimately directed. You feel like you’re there. And I think Destin is going to be terrific with especially handling Kang, because he’s a character that can be very quiet and very lonely and very broken and then passionate and driven. So like, I think Destin is the perfect guy to capture that range of emotion with him. So yeah. I was talking to him today, we’ll see. I’m very behind [Laughs]. I’ve got to get going.
io9: You do that. Talk to you in a few years.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is now in theaters. Avengers: The Kang Dynasty opens May 2, 2025.
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