Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania Post-Credits Scenes Explained
Confused by the post-credit and mid-credit scenes in Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania? We'll (try) to answer all of your questions about Kang and the future of Marvel.
This post contains heavy spoilers for Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania
Despite some worries that Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania would abandon the laid-back attitude of the previous two movies starring Scott Lang, the latest MCU entry managed to be a pretty light adventure. Until the mid-credit scene, that is. That’s where we learn that Kang isn’t really gone and that the heroes of Earth will need to assemble a lot more than an army of ants.
The Kang that battles Ant-Man and the Wasp comes to the Quantum Realm after being exiled by some mysterious group who he only refers to as “they.” Kang is far more forthcoming about his motivation for conquering the Quantum Realm: he needs to assemble an army and escape to defend reality from his worst enemy, himself.
In the mid-credit scene, we learn that those two parts are connected. It was a trio of Kang Variants — namely Immortus, Rama-Tut, and the Scarlet Centurion (maybe) — who dispatched the Kang who conquered the Quantum Realm. More importantly, the fact that this Conquerer could be beaten by a pair of Ant-Men and Wasps worries the trio, who decide to call in reinforcements to take over Earth 616, in the form of thousands of Kangs, all played by Jonathan Majors.
Confused? Don’t worry, we’ll sort it all out — the best we can, anyway.
Who Are The Three Kangs?
The three figures who exiled Kang to the Quantum Realm are themselves Kang. Sort of. The one in ancient Egyptian gear is Rama-Tut, the one with the tall headpiece is Immortus, and the third may be a younger variation of the Scarlet Centurion (yes, I know he’s not wearing scarlet, I’m getting to that). All three of these characters come from Marvel Comics, and while they are understood to be Variants of Kang, they tend to be treated as points on a linear timeline.
As explained earlier here at Den of Geek, Kang the Conquerer was born in the 31st century as Nathaniel Richards. Named for his time-traveling predecessor (and father of the Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards), this Nathaniel hated the peaceful utopia in which he lived. In an act of rebellion, he built a time machine and went to ancient Egypt, where he established himself as the cruel Pharaoh Rama-Tut. As Rama-Tut, Nathaniel battled a number of Marvel characters seen in live action, including the god Khonshu (boss of Moon Knight, played by Oscar Isaac) and En Sabah Nur (also known as X-Men villain Apocalypse, also played by Oscar Isaac).
After his defeat at the hands of the Fantastic Four, Richards returned to the 31st century to change his technology, taking the form of the Scarlet Centurion and coming to our time, where he’s thwarted by the Avengers. The Centurion retreats to the barbaric 40th century and establishes himself as Kang the Conquerer, and sets to taking over as many timelines as possible.
Finally, Kang sees time travel as a threat to reality and takes on one more identity. As Immortus, he studies and protects the sanctity of the Sacred Timeline (using organizations such as the Time Variance Authority). Again, Marvel Comics tends to treat these (and the other identities Richards adopts) as the same person, just at different points in his life. However, the identities tend to dislike one another, especially Kang and Immortus.
The MCU version seems to be separating the identities out into Variants, which makes it easier for them to work together. Indeed, Immortus and Rama-Tut are very much aligned in their plans, as is the third identity. However, that third identity may point to ruptures in the triumvirate.
THE SCARLET CENTURION?
The third identity has no clear comic book antecedent. While aspects of it do certainly mirror one of the Scarlet Centurion costumes, that costume was worn by Marcus Kang, Kang’s son (and a variant of Marcus Immortus, the central figure in one of Marvel’s most reprehensible stories). Also, you know, he’s not wearing red. Aspects also match a costume worn by Nathaniel Richards, but Nathaniel Richards I, not his descendent who becomes Kang.
So who is this guy? I have a theory, but it takes some extrapolation from early 2000s Marvel comics. After the Avengers get destroyed by a mad Wanda Maximoff (no, that didn’t start with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness), a teenage version of Iron Man appears and gathers adolescent versions of established heroes, including Kate Bishop as Hawkeye, Isaiah Bradley’s grandson Eli as Patriot, and Wanda’s son Billy as the Asgardian. These heroes become the Young Avengers, and Iron Lad soon reveals himself to be a teenaged Nathaniel Richards, comes to stop an invasion by his older self Kang.
Iron Lad’s costume draws heavily from the red and silver Iron Man armor briefly donned by Tony Stark and James Rhodes. The name of that Armor? The Silver Centurion. Moreover, the third Kang’s outfit does resemble the sleeker black ensemble Iron Lad wore outside of his armor.
In short, Scarlet Centurion + Silver Centurion / (MCU Adaptation) (Time Travel Story) = Third Kang?
I dunno. Someone check my math. But with Kate Bishop, the Maximoff twins, and Cassie Lang (Stature, in the comics) recently introduced, it’s clear that Marvel has the Young Avengers in mind. And it would make sense for a young Kang to reach out to Cassie, given her experience with an older version.
After the first mid-credit scene, we get one more post-credit scene, which seems to be a clip from Loki season two (directed by Moon Knight’s Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead). The clip finds Loki and Mobius M. Mobius at a traveling roadshow in the 19th century, watching an inventor called Victor Timely. “That’s him,” says Loki, with a tremble in his voice. Because yes, Victor Timely is yet another Kang Variant, still played by Majors.
Victor Timely first appeared in Avengers Annual #21 (1992), by writer Mark Gruenwald and penciler Herb Trimpe. Not only does this story massively retcon Avengers history, but it places Kang at the center of the Marvel Universe. The annual reveals that after his first defeat by the Avengers (seen in 1964’s Avengers #8), Kang went to 19th century America, where he took on the identity of inventor Victor Timely. Founding the town of Timely, Wisconsin, Victor created a city of wonders, including inventions that could not be found elsewhere. Eventually, the town becomes the portal to Kang’s extra-dimensional city Chronopolis, which he uses to capture Vision and launch an attack on Earth.
But before that, Timely places himself at the center of the Marvel Universe by using his inventions to inspire a guy called Phineas Horton. In the comics, Horton goes on to invent an android who spontaneously combusts when exposed to oxygen. That android takes the name Human Torch and famously stars on the cover of 1939’s Marvel Comics #1, the comic that also introduced Namor. The name of the company that published Marvel Comics #1? Timely Comics.
From the brief clip, it’s unclear if Victor Timely will play such a monumental role in the MCU. However, we can be sure that Kang or a Variant will be involved in Loki season 2, and not just because Loki and Mobius will be hunting him down. In the comics, Kang has regularly shown one vulnerability — his love for Princess Ravonna Renslayer. You may recall that a Variant of Renslayer is Loki and Mobius’s boss at the TVA, which means that Kang may want to check in on the love of his life. In fact, Renslayer has played a pivotal role in stories involving the people summoned by the Kang trio.
The Council of Kangs
Avengers: Endgame introduced the concept of Variants into the MCU. According to the explanation the Ancient One gives Bruce Banner, Variants occur when someone changes the past. Time continues as it would have the person not interfered with the past, but the change creates a branching timeline, complete with Variant versions of everyone in that reality.
That explanation comes directly from the comics, specifically stories involving Kang and his Variants. In fact, Variants are so fundamental to the time-traveling Kang that he was at the center of the first Variant team. 1986’s Avengers #267 – 269 introduces the Council of Kangs, a collection of Kangs from across the multiverse. As you might expect, this Council quickly implodes as Kang turns against Kang for the hand of Renslayer, even enlisting their hated future self Rama-Tut.
Later incarnations of the Council find a way to put their hostilities behind them, all for the good of the conquest. The Council of Kangs (or as it is eventually called, the Council of Cross-Time Kangs) became a collaborative effort, as the Kangs help one another to achieve mastery of all time and space. That is, at least until one Kang uses Alioth (the reality-destroying monster featured in season one of Loki) to kill all the others to establish himself as the true Kang and the true love of Renslayer.
What Does This Mean For the MCU?
Quantumania begins with Scott Lang pleased with himself for helping to stop the threat of Thanos. It ends with him fighting back the nagging feeling that he only opened the way for Kang to return if not the even more powerful Variants warned about by the Conquerer.
If only Ant-Man was Deadpool, then he’d know that of course, Kang’s coming back. Kevin Feige and Marvel management have been hyping Kang as the “big bad” for Phases 4-6, dubbed the Multiverse Saga. He’ll be the antagonist for 2025’s Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, and possibly for Avengers: Secret Wars in 2026.
Of course, that plan raises a question: who are the Avengers? If Immortus, Rama-Tut, and Iron Centurion are assembling a multitude of Kangs to attack reality, then all of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will need to come together. But thus far, the only person putting together a team has been Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine, and a multiversal attack may be more than she can handle. Confusing as Kang’s story certainly is, it is clear that Kang’s arrival has significantly raised the stakes in the MCU.