While the MCU began to unfold the multiverse saga as early as Avengers: Endgame, Marvel barely touched on the man who is actually at least indirectly responsible for everything that happened not only during Loki Season 1, but also WandaVision, Spider-Man : No Road, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and The Eternals.
I’m talking about Kang the Conqueror, introduced in season one of Loki, the unwitting architect of the last few years of MCU stories and the new big bad that our heroes will have to deal with a few more times.
WARNING! This article contains major spoilers for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantum of Solace and other recent entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Thanos might be a tough act for any cosmic villain, but Kahn the Conqueror is more than up for it. It is impossible for us mortals to imagine the very existence of this guy, as he is so old that he has transcended time. And there is so much of it.
This is in stark contrast to Thanos, who was almost a very strong alien boss who punched people who opposed him, and who killed half of everything living in our universe with the infinity stones. Kang is trillions of years old and has effectively destroyed countless entire universes with his own technology that he invented and built himself. And, again, there is a lot of it. This is a whole new level of problem, and it will require numerous explanations.
Where did Kahn the Conqueror begin?
At the end of the first season of Loki, we met a character played by Jonathan Majors called The One Who Remains. It wasn’t Kang, but rather a man named Nathaniel Richards—yes, he’s a descendant of Reed Richards from the Fantastic Four. He told Loki and Sylvia that he was a 31st century scientist who discovered the multiverse and soon encountered alternate versions of himself from other realities. Many of his others were good – many others were not. A war ensued, and the One Who Remains ended it by killing every other version of himself and stabilizing his world with the single timeline he maintained through the authority of time dispersion.
He suggested that Loki and Sylvia kill him and find out if this way was really the best way or if they could find something better. Sylvie, not grateful to have to spend her whole life suffering to prepare for this moment, accepted his offer. The One Who Remains is gone, and the multiverse is now ruled by another version of Nathaniel Richards, known as Kahn the Conqueror. And while he didn’t specifically orchestrate the events of those movies and shows I mentioned above, everything that happened in the MCU after Endgame happened because Kang is in charge, not the One Left Behind.
I know what you’re thinking, “Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania had many Kangs, not one!” Hold that thought. This will become more clear in a moment.
How the multiverse works
The idea of a multiverse is that it represents all the possible things that could happen in any given situation. So, for example, if someone asks you to marry them, in the multiverse there will be a universe where you say yes and a universe where you say no, and a universe where you hesitate and can’t decide. This is a natural phenomenon.
The One Who Remains created the TVA to prevent these branches from creating new versions of themselves that would destroy everything. As long as there was only one Nathaniel Richards, and as long as he wasn’t one of the bad guys, reality could remain stable and all this chaotic multiverse stuff that was happening wouldn’t be possible.
Now, while all evidence points to Nathaniel Richards still being single, he’s not one of the good guys.
Kahn the Conqueror is the exact opposite of the One who Remains
In our current post-Loki situation in the MCU, that whole multiverse war He Who Remains mentioned would still have to happen. But this time, Kang was a version of Nathaniel Richards who won and stood atop the multiverse, able to bend it to his will. But instead of stability, he brought only chaos. Instead of stabilizing the timeline, he interfered countless times with his own past and future.
This spawned a new multiverse, not based on natural possibilities, but rather spawned by his endless time-traveling delusions. He’s probably still using the TVA to keep those natural branches in line, but why would he still be supporting the TVA after the One Who Remains has been eliminated? Given that he has giant statues in his headquarters, as seen in the season 1 finale of Loki, it’s safe to assume that this Kang is more interested in using the TVA to maintain his own power than in saving the multiverse.
So why are there so many Kangs here?
The One Who Remains has, in his own words, “lived a million lives,” and he meant that literally, not in the sense that there were millions of alternate versions of him in the multiverse. This guy was old. Older than the universe, probably because it was not limited by time.
Kahn is also old, and he’s constantly traveling through time, and he’s had different personalities at different points in time. And these different versions of him from different points in time know each other, and every time they meet and interact, these individuals become different from each other, and separate universes are formed. And so the many variants of Kang and the current multiverse are born.
By the time we get to Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantum Mania, thousands of them have joined a group known as the Kang Council. It was this group that “exiled” Kang of Quantummania to the Quantum Realm. We see these guys in the mid-credits, one in particular, Fantastic Four nemesis Rama-Tut, who seems to take charge as they try to figure out what to do with the apparent death of one of their own. Whatever it is, it won’t be good because they’re really upset that someone was even able to kill Kang. But you can bet the Fantastic Four will have their say now that Marvel is teasing Rama-Tut.
However, not all of these Kangs will be villains. In the comics, there is one, a teenage version of Kang, known as Iron Man, who really doesn’t like the things Kang is into, and ends up in the Young Avengers. Expect to see some of these good ones in the next couple of years. And maybe as soon as Loki season 2.
The next season of Loki is teased in a post-credits scene that shows Loki and Owen Wilson’s Mr. Mobius watching an Old West snake oil-type presentation presented by a Kang variant named Victor Timely. This could be the same Kang from Quantum Mania – in the comics, Kang retreats at the turn of the 20th century and adopts the alias Victor Timely after a major defeat. On the other hand, the Kang Council apparently believes that the Kang of the Quantum Realm is dead. Although I’m sure it is maybe that they are mistaken, they are not the kind of people who would make a guess as to whether any of them are alive or dead. After all, they are scientists.
Unfortunately, the comics almost never help when trying to figure out what happens next in the MCU, because the MCU is bigger inspired comics than truly adapted from them – they take the basic premise and then go their own way with it. So, while it’s hard to predict specific events, you can be sure of two things: more Kangs are coming, and the Fantastic Four won’t be far behind.
GameSpot has all the Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania coverage any Marvel Cinematic Universe fan could need, including spoiler-free review and a scene breakdown after credits and what they mean the future of the Fantastic Four in the MCU.
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