Kang the Conqueror, Explained: Everything We Know After Ant-Man & The Wasp Quantumania
Confused about new main MCU villain Kang the Conqueror after seeing Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania? Our spoiler discussion explains everything.
While the MCU started firing up the multiverse saga all the way back during Avengers: Endgame, Marvel has barely touched on the man who was actually at least indirectly responsible for everything that happened not just during Season 1 of Loki, but also WandaVision, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and Eternals.
I'm talking about Kang the Conqueror, introduced in Loki Season 1, the inadvertent architect of the past several years of MCU stories and the new big bad that our heroes will have to deal with for several more.
Warning! This article contains major spoilers for Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania and other recent entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Thanos may be a tough act for any cosmic villain to follow, but Kang the Conqueror is more than equipped to do so. This guy's very existence is essentially impossible for us mortals to comprehend because he's so old that he's transcended time. And there are so, so many of him.
This is in stark contrast with Thanos, who was pretty much just a really strong boss alien who punched people who opposed him, and who killed half of all life in our universe using the Infinity Stones. Kang is trillions of years old and has actually destroyed countless entire universes using his own technology that he both invented and built himself. And, again, there are a lot of him. This is a whole new level of problem, and it's going to require plenty of explanation.
Where Kang the Conqueror began
At the end of Loki Season 1, we met a character played by Jonathan Majors who was referred to as He Who Remains. This was not Kang, but rather a man named Nathaniel Richards--yes, he's a descendant of Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four. He told Loki and Sylvie that he was a scientist from the 31st Century who discovered the multiverse and soon met alternate versions of himself from other realities. A lot of those other hims were good--many others were not. War happened, and He Who Remains ended it, killing every other version of himself and stabilizing his world with a single timeline that he maintained using the Time Variance Authority.
He offered Loki and Sylvie the choice to kill him and find out if this path is truly the best course or if they can find something better. Sylvie, not appreciating having to spend her whole life in misery to prepare for this moment, took him up on the offer. He Who Remains is gone, and a different version of Nathaniel Richards, the one known as Kang the Conqueror, now controls the multiverse. And while he didn't specifically orchestrate the events of those movies and shows I mentioned above, everything that has happened in the MCU since Endgame has happened because Kang is the one in charge instead of He Who Remains.
I know what you're thinking: "In Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania, there were a lot of Kangs, not just one!" Hold that thought. It'll make more sense in a moment.
How the multiverse works
The idea behind the multiverse is that it represents every possible thing that could happen in any given situation. So, for example, if somebody asks you to marry them, the multiverse would have a universe where you say yes, and a universe where you say no, and also a universe where you hesitate and can't make up your mind. It's a naturally occurring phenomenon.
He Who Remains created the TVA to prevent those branches from creating new versions of himself that would wreck everything. As long as there was only one Nathaniel Richards out there, and as long as that one is not one of the bad ones, reality could remain stable and all these chaotic multiverse things that have been happening would not be possible.
Now, while all evidence points to there still only being one Nathaniel Richards, he's not one of the good ones.
Kang the Conqueror is the polar opposite of He Who Remains
In our current, post-Loki situation in the MCU, that whole multiversal war mentioned by He Who Remains would have still happened. But this time, Kang was the version of Nathaniel Richards who won and stood atop the multiverse with the ability to bend it to his will. But instead of stability, he brought only chaos. Instead of stabilizing the timeline, he interfered in his own past and future countless times.
This spawned a new multiverse not based on naturally occurring possibilities, but rather spawned by his endless time travel shenanigans. He must still be using the TVA to keep those naturally occurring branches in line, though--why else keep the TVA around after He Who Remains was eliminated? Considering he's got giant statues of himself up at HQ, as seen in the Loki season 1 finale, it's probably safe to assume this Kang is more interested in using the TVA to maintain his own power than to save the multiverse.
So why are there so many Kangs?
He Who Remains, by his own account, had "lived a million lifetimes," and he meant that literally, not in the sense that there were millions of alternate versions of him throughout the multiverse. This guy was old. Older than the universe, probably, since he wasn't constrained by time.
Kang is similarly old, and he's constantly doing time travel, and at different points in time he's held different identities. And these different versions of him from different points in time know each other, and whenever they meet and interact, those individuals become distinct from each other and separate universes are formed. And that's how the many variants of Kang, and the current multiverse, are born.
By the time we get to Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania, there are thousands of them who are in a group known as the Council of Kangs. It's this group that "banished" the Quantumania Kang to the Quantum Realm. We see these guys in the mid-credits scene, with one in particular, Fantastic Four nemesis Rama-Tut, seemingly taking charge as they're about to try to figure out what to do about the apparent death of one of them. Whatever it is, it won't be good, because they're pretty upset that anybody was even able to kill a Kang. But you can bet the Fantastic Four will have their say in it now that Marvel is teasing Rama-Tut.
Not all of these Kangs will be villains, though. There's one in the comics, a teenaged version of Kang known as the Iron Lad, who really doesn't like the kind of stuff Kang is into, and he ends up in the Young Avengers. Expect to meet some of these good ones in the next couple years. And possibly as soon as Loki season 2.
The next season of Loki is teased in the post-credits scene, which shows Loki and Owen Wilson's Mr. Mobius watching a snake oil type presentation in the Old West presented by a Kang variant named Victor Timely. This might be the same Kang from Quantumania--in the comics, Kang retreats to the turn of the 20th Century and adopts the Victor Timely alias after a big defeat. On the other hand, the Council of Kangs apparently believe that the Quantum Realm's Kang is dead. While I'm sure it's possible that they're wrong, they don't seem like the sort of people who would make assumptions about whether one of their own is alive or dead. They're scientists, after all.
Unfortunately, the comics are almost never helpful when trying to figure out what will happen next in the MCU, because the MCU is more inspired by the comics than truly adapted from them--they take the basic premises and then go in their own direction with them. So while it's hard to guess 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 that any fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe could need, including a spoiler-free review and a breakdown of the post-credits scenes and what they mean for the Fantastic Four's future in the MCU.
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