SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched Season 1, Episode 6 of “Loki,” streaming now on Disney Plus.
Between the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) tormenting townspeople and twisting the fabric of reality to keep her synthezoid loved one alive and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino), unleashing the wrath of Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) and completely disrupting the Sacred Timeline all in one vengeful knife jab, it seems that the Sorcerer Supreme (Benedict Cumberbatch) is going to have a lot of clean-up to do in Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”
Fans reacted to the “Loki” season finale, which sets up Kang as one of the MCU’s next Big Bads with memes galore on social media. They theorized about what Sylvie’s decision and the newly introduced villain will bring to upcoming Marvel projects — particularly “Multiverse of Madness,” “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania.” Majors, the recently Emmy-nominated actor (for HBO’s “Lovecraft Country”), is already confirmed to reprise the role of Kang in the third “Ant-Man” installment, and because the other two aforementioned films deal with multiversal messes, it is highly probable that the villain will at least have some influence on the narrative based on Kang’s warnings in the “Loki” finale and what Marvel comic book readers already know about the character.
But, for the less well-versed in Marvel lore, Kang’s potential impact in future movies and TV series could still be mysterious or confusing, especially after that whopper of a cliffhanger in “Loki” (which will, hopefully, make more sense in the second season). That’s where Variety comes in. Here’s a primer on Kang the Conqueror:
He Who Remains is a Variant of Kang the Conqueror
If we’re going to get into some of Kang the Conqueror’s background, then we need to at least assume that He Who Remains (Majors) is, in fact, a variant of Kang the Conqueror. He hints at it both in his explanation to Sylvie and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) of his origin story, and makes a rather explicit implication when he says that he has been known as “a ruler, a conqueror, He Who Remains, a jerk.” In the comics, He Who Remains is the founder and master puppeteer of the Time Variance Authority. And, in “Loki,” He Who Remains is the creator of the Time-Keeper robots. Though Majors is credited as He Who Remains and not as Kang the Conqueror in “Loki,” his casting as Kang for the third “Ant-Man” flick makes a pretty convincing case that He Who Remains equals a Kang the Conquerer variant.
Pharaoh Rama-Tut’s Run-in with The Fantastic Four
After taming the trans-temporal-entity/scary cloud shark Alioth in Episode 5, Sylvie and Loki enter The Citadel at the End of Time, which is atop an asteroid and is inhabited by He Who Remains — costumed in a purple-hued outfit that seems to be inspired by Ancient Egyptian fashion.
That’s no coincidence. In the comics, Kang, before he becomes Kang, is Nathaniel Richards, an expert history buff and genius who discovers time-traveling technology created by fellow Marvel supervillain Doctor Victor von Doom in the 31st Century. Richards travels back in time to Ancient Egypt and reinvents himself as Pharaoh Rama-Tut, getting a first small taste of power until the Fantastic Four challenge his rule. As it happens, “No Way Home” director Jon Watts is set to direct a “Fantastic Four” movie for Marvel Studios, but no other information — even a release date — has been made public.
Eventually in the comics, Richards returns to a future far past his own origin century and easily takes over a dying Earth. His hunger for domination is not satisfied by this conquest and so he decides to take over a healthier Earth. And thus, Kang the Conqueror is born.
A Love Affair with Ravonna Renslayer
On “Loki,” Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is the Time Variance Authority’s judge and the unwitting henchwoman to He Who Remains; in the comics, however, she is a 40th century princess of the kingdom of Carelius, one of the last to be conquered by Kang in the far-future Earth. Their love is, at first, unrequited, so Kang concocts a totally normal seduction plan: capture the Avengers to win her heart. In a face-off between the Avengers and Kang, Ravonna sacrifices herself to save Kang. In the comics, Kang makes a different attempt to (unsuccessfully) resurrect Ravonna. Could “Loki’s” Renslayer be one of Kang’s ways of keeping his love alive — by incarcerating one of her variants as a TVA agent? That’s purely speculative, but could explain Renslayer’s blind loyalty to the TVA up until the Season 1 finale of “Loki,” when she decides to leave in search of free will (something that, she believes, only belongs to the person in charge).
In the comics, Kang eventually is able to revive Renslayer, but it comes at the price of her love, and she soon becomes consumed by revenge, embarking on a mission to take over Kang’s empire and having several run-ins with the Avengers, the Fantastic Four and the Guardians of the Galaxy along the way.
The Crosstime Kang Corps
In the comics, the Crosstime Kang Corps is a council of alternate Kangs from multiple timelines in search of the ultimate powerful and extraterrestrial cosmic weapon. That sounds a lot like what He Who Remains was alluding to when he explained to Sylvie and Loki in his office that killing him would only unleash highly dangerous versions of himself in multiple timelines determined to wreak havoc and, naturally, conquer the world. Similarly, the Crosstime Kang Corps is made up of Kangs that were created by Kang’s constant time-traveling. Eventually, they’re all slain by an alternate Kang who calls himself Immortus, a Kang that lives isolated in Limbo and yearns to be the only Kang in the entire multiverse. In the comics, Immortus’ origins and destiny are closely linked to the workings of the Time Keepers.