Who Is Kang the Conqueror? The MCU's New Big Bad Explained
Warning: Contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Loki season 1.
Lovecraft Country star Jonathan Majors appeared as Kang the Conqueror for Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania, making his debut in Loki episode 6, and here's everything you need to know about the Marvel movie's new main villain Kang. The Multiverse and Variants introduced in Loki season 1 are central to the MCU's Phase 4, 5, and 6 narratives, collectively dubbed "The Multiverse Saga." Phase 6 finishes with the next two new Avengers movies, Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars, with Kang as the Big Bad. The MCU Kang the Conqueror is the post-"Infinity Saga" Thanos replacement.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
Disney+'s Loki TV series stars Tom Hiddleston as the titular God of Mischief, or rather as a variant of Loki who was created as a result of the Avengers' time travel. Captured by the Time Variance Authority and put on trial for crimes against the "Sacred Timeline," Loki eventually learned the timeline was naturally chaotic; any moment has the potential to create a so-called "Nexus Event," a branched reality. The result was a Multiversal war, and the winners of that conflict imposed order upon the timeline, establishing the TVA to prune branches before another Multiverse could be created. Naturally, that particular strategy didn't last long when Loki arrived and caused mayhem.
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Loki officially introduced viewers to Jonathan Majors as He Who Remains, who revealed the Multiversal conflict had been triggered by different variants of himself. His death meant the restoration of the Multiverse – and, inevitably, the emergence of more variants of He Who Remains, all of whom would vie for supremacy. For He Who Remains is actually a variant of a classic time-traveling villain from the comics, Kang the Conqueror, and now all creation is in jeopardy. The events of Loki led to speculation that Kang would be the next chief antagonist in the MCU, and sure enough, it was soon confirmed Kang would appear in Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania. and Avengers 5 would be based on Kurt Busiek's 2000 comic The Kang Dynasty. Here's everything you need to know about the MCU Kang the Conqueror, from his comic-book origins to his Marvel movie future.
Kang's Origins in Marvel Comics
Time travel is a tricky business, and unfortunately, that means many time-traveling characters have complex backstories. In the comics, Kang the Conqueror started out as Nathaniel Richards, a descendant of Reed Richards and Sue Storm of the Fantastic Four. He was born in the 30th century, a time when the world was consumed with violence, and Kang brought about peace by conquering the planet. When he gained access to a time machine, Kang began to expand his conquest throughout history, frequently taking other identities such as Immortus, the Scarlet Centurion, or Pharaoh Rama-Tut. All of these are potential Kang variants for the MCU. The MCU Kang the Conqueror will likely have multiple variants, and there are plenty of them in the comics, even just in Earth-616.
Kang's time travel essentially turns him into a complex space-time event in his own right, and the timelines have changed around him many times. He cares little for the laws of time and has frequently interacted with his own personal history. On one occasion, this went badly wrong, because his teenage self was appalled at his future, and attempted to erase it by traveling back in time and founding the Young Avengers as Iron Lad. All the different identities of Kang – Immortus, Rama-Tut, and so on – have splintered off and become almost different beings in their own right. It's not unusual for a Kang story to see two versions of the time traveler going up against one another.
Kang's Powers & Time Travel Abilities In Marvel Comics
Kang the Conqueror originates from the 30th century, a time when humanity had learned to enhance its physical qualities such as strength and speed. As such, he is beyond peak human, easily operating at the kind of level seen by modern-day super-soldiers such as Captain America, as well as being an unparalleled genius and a tremendously skilled tactician. He was able to conquer the entire 30th century and extend his conquest through time into a dimension known as Limbo, which may be an analog for the Quantum Realm in the MCU. Unfortunately, Kang's greatest strength – his relentless determination and indomitable will - often serves as his greatest weakness. He cannot see a challenge without wanting to defeat it, and on one occasion (constantly traveling back to re-fight the same battle against Ultron), his persistence almost destroyed the entire Multiverse by fracturing time and space.
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Kang wears powerful battle armor, and he has access to every weapon in history, including some of those created beyond the 30th century that he has glimpsed through time travel. He has incorporated summoning technology into his armor, allowing him to summon any weapon he deems necessary from the time-stream. In addition, Kang travels through history to recruit the greatest warriors, defeating them in combat and recruiting them into his army. Naturally, he prefers to lead from the front.
Jonathan Majors Is Kang In The MCU
Lovecraft Country star Jonathan Majors has joined the MCU, making his debut in Loki as He Who Remains ahead of playing Kang the Conqueror in Ant-Man 3. Marvel Studios' approach appears to be a little more straightforward than the comics because it sounds as though countless alternate timelines will have their own variants of Kang who battle for control of all time and space, meaning Majors could potentially play Immortus, the Scarlet Centurion, the Warlord, and countless other versions of Kang. It's now been confirmed a Kang variant is the MCU Thanos replacement, with Avengers: The Kang Dynasty confirming his ongoing importance. MCU audiences will have much more of Majors as Kang to look forward to after Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Majors is a rising star right now, appearing in Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods as well as Lovecraft Country, and Marvel is no doubt pleased to add the increasingly respected actor to the MCU family.
Kang Is The Confirmed Big Bad Of The Multiverse Saga
Kang is the new Big Bad in the MCU, after constant speculation he would be throughout Phase 4. It's already clear Kang the Conqueror is a major force to be reckoned with in Marvel's developing Multiversal arc. According to He Who Remains, variants of Kang caused the first Multiversal war. The MCU's Multiverse story was expanded on through Marvel's What If..?, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, although none contained a Kang appearance. Phase 5 begins with Ant-Man 3, which features Kang as the main antagonist. Since Phases 4, 5, and 6 are dubbed The Multiverse Saga, the movies and Disney+ shows in Phase 5 are likely to have much more Kang as the MCU builds towards his showdown with the Avengers in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars.
The MCU Kang the Conqueror is different than his comic counterpart, but in ways that have set him up as the perfect Thanos replacement. He is, quite simply, the most dangerous person in the Multiverse. Kang variants are literally the reason the first Multiverse was culled down to a single timeline. If multiple Kangs are allowed to exist, they will literally destroy existence. Not only is this a perfect way to set up an Avengers: Secret Wars inspired by the 2015 Secret Wars comic, but it also demonstrates just how powerful the MCU Kang is. As What If...? proved, Thanos variants are a threat in their own universe but not much to worry about outside them (as evidenced by what happened when a Thanos met Ultron in What If...?).
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Kang the Conqueror is a threat to every version of reality, so much so that the TVA exists with the singular purpose of preventing Kang duplicates from emerging. The Multiverse has no issues with an endless supply of Thanos variants, but more than one Kang risks, in no uncertain terms, everything, everywhere, ever. Loki undoubtedly set the stage for the biggest threat ever seen in the MCU, and it's almost certain fans will get their first taste of how powerful Kang truly is when Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania debuts in 2023.