Can somebody please clarify how this phrase is supposed to work? For instance, "qu'est-ce qu'il veut?" supposedly translates to "what does he want?", but I don't understand the logistics behind that.
Que = than(?) Est = is Ce = this Qu'il = what he
"Than is this what he wants?"
Try not to translate word for word. French is a unique language not a translation of English, as such French words do not conveniently map with English words.
On top of this, words such as que has many more meanings than "than". Here, the closest literal meaning would be:
Qu(e) / est-ce / qu(e) / il veut ? - Qu'est-ce qu'il veut ?
What / is it / that / he wants? - "What does he want?"