Kang the Conqueror was first announced to appear in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania as a multiversal villain for Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne to grapple with — but it appears he has a much larger role to play in the next phase of the MCU.
We know very little about the character’s place in the Marvel Universe so far, but we do have some new clues thanks to the season finale of Loki.
Here’s everything we know about Kang the Conqueror, and how his comic book history may play into future Marvel movies.
Beware spoilers for Loki and beyond.
The Loki season one finale brought some major surprises to the table. But the most surprising of all was the debut of Jonathan Majors’ Kang, the man whose alternate reality self is known (and feared) as ‘Kang the Conqueror’.
The MCU version of the character appears to closely align with his Marvel Comics counterpart, but there are a few key quirks missing from his MCU backstory.
In Loki, he’s described as a scientist who discovers the key to alternate realities and in doing so, creates multiple versions of himself, each of which are more powerful and maniacal than the last.
While it’s glossed over, it appears the primary Kang then becomes a lynchpin for these alternate universes, working to maintain stability in the timeline and fight back against his ‘evil’ alternate selves.
When Sylvie betrays Loki and appears to kill the ‘good’ Kang, reality shifts and comes under assault from the ‘bad’ Kang, who’ll likely become the next ‘big bad’ of the MCU.
Who is Kang the Conqueror?
In the context of Marvel Comics, Kang the Conqueror is a despotic war lord who aims to rule the multiverse through time travel and future technologies. But he wasn’t always as sinister as his name suggests.
Kang is actually the alter ego of Nathaniel Richards, who’s believed to be distantly related to Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four. In fact, Kang is usually associated with this team, which gives them the perfect opportunity to debut in the MCU.
While Kang appeared as an all-out villain in The Avengers #8 (1964), his background as a scientist fascinated with time travel was later told in issues of Fantastic Four. Here, it was detailed that Kang became truly ‘evil’ after stranding himself in a distant century with little scientific knowledge, and using the opportunity to become a maniacal ruler.
Drunk with power, he then went on to claim other worlds for himself and travel through time in an effort to claim more lands.
His story does differ a smidge from Thanos the Mad Titan, who aimed to create a more sustainable world, but they do share similar ideologies and the desire to rule nations of people.
In addition to the ‘Kang the Conqueror’ persona, the character also has several multiversal counterparts (hinted at in Loki) of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ variety.
One of the ‘good’ Kangs is a teenager named Nate Richards who goes on to become the Young Avenger known as Iron Lad — although whether we’ll actually see these other versions is currently unknown.
With Kang the Conqueror on board, the future of the MCU is looking weird.
So, what’s next for the MCU?
Well, we already know Kang is set to have a major role in 2023’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania so it’s likely the Conqueror’s reign of terror will extend the full length of Marvel’s phase four.
The next major films in the timeline, Eternals and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings don’t appear to be too concerned about the multiverse going off their first trailers — but Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will tackle the threads kicked off in Loki.
Like Thanos before him, Kang will likely be the villain that ties the entire MCU together and gives a new generation of Avengers a reason to assemble.
Given Kang the Conqueror’s ultimate goal is to conquer, it stands the reason Earth’s Mightiest Heroes might have a big problem with the war lord.
We’ll know more as we get closer to the release of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange.
Stay tuned to Gizmodo Australia for all the latest news from the worlds of entertainment and technology.