While the DCEU yet again tries to reinvent itself, the MCU is in full force and a brand new super villain is on the way! At San Diego Comic-Con 2022, Kevin Feige described plans for Phase 5, Phase 6, and even Phase 7 of the MCU and what stood out the most was the emphasis on the supervillain, Kang the Conqueror (aka, the new Thanos-like-baddie).
The complexities around Kang the Conqueror center on his time-traveling nature and the fact that he dons multiple aliases. But I’m here to wade through those details to present you with the most essential information you’ll need to know to appreciate just how epic Kang the Conqueror is as a character, and how much potential the MCU has to properly portray this descendant of Reed Richards across multiple films.
KANG THE CONQUEROR: MCU Version Explained
While the world waits for the actual “Prime” Kang the Conqueror to debut in Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (Watch Ant-Man and the Wasp to prepare for Quantumania’s release on February 17, 2023), we already know a bit of what to expect from this villain. That’s because we met one of Kang’s variants already in the Loki television show, and based on what he told us about Kang the Conqueror, the Avengers have much to fear.
In Loki, our variant informant, He Who Remains (played by Jonathan Majors), is based on an important Marvel Comics character we’ll discuss later. What’s important to know is the existence of He Who Remains (and the fact he died in Loki) has huge implications on the MCU, especially if events transpire in the MCU close to how they do in the comics.
What we know so far about He Who Remains is he’s a variant of Nathaniel Richards. He Who Remains revealed to Loki and Sylvie in the Loki season finale that he was the first man to ever come into contact with alternate universes and other versions of himself across the multiverse. And it seems after an evil Nathaniel Richards variant began conquering worlds and timelines using the name Kang the Conqueror, a Multiversal War occurred amongst all the Nathaniel Richards variants. Ultimately our friend He Who Remains discovered a monster known as Alioth, and with this monster he defeated the other Nathaniel Richards variants.
From there, He Who Remains founded an organization called the Time Variance Authority in order to eliminate the timelines of evil variants. This formed what He Who Remains dubbed the “Sacred Timeline.” However, after Loki and Sylvie confronted He Who Remains in the Loki season finale, Sylvie killed He Who Remains, and doing so caused the destruction of the Sacred Timeline and unleashed the possibility for evil Nathaniel Richards variants to rise again.
What does this mean for Ant-Man and the rest of the Avengers? It means things are about to get dicey. To understand why, let’s dive into the comic book origins of Kang.
KANG THE CONQUEROR: Comic Version Explained
The most notable trait about Kang the Conqueror’s comic book backstory is that he’s a time traveler from the 31st century of an alternate universe (Earth-6311) where humanity never had a Dark Age and thus developed technology at a much faster rate. Marvel.com lists Kang the Conqueror with pretty-mid stats overall. Kang is a huge threat to the Avengers because he has a massive arsenal of futuristic gadgets and gizmos at his disposal and he possesses advanced genes that allow him to age at half the rate as humans from 21st century Earth-616. Also, it’s important to understand that Kang’s skin is not blue. He just wears armor that turns him blue.
It’s fascinating that Kang The Conqueror started life as a heroic man named Nathaniel Richards. Nathaniel grew up ambitious in a world that had everything. But after bringing peace to his planet during wartime, Nathaniel unfortunately grew complacent and that’s when he found a time machine. Little did Nathaniel know what he would set in motion by traveling through time. For the moment he stepped foot in that time machine, Nathaniel unlocked his destiny as one of the most notable tyrants in all of history.
KANG’S EARLY REIGN: Rama-Tut
Before Nathaniel went full blown villain, he began his quest living the playboy life in ancient Egypt on none other than Earth-616. There he took up the guise of a pharaoh named Rama-Tut. Everything seemed to be going well for Rama-Tut too, until The Fantastic Four were hurtled back in time. That’s when the Fantastic Four teamed up to take down Rama-Tut in what was actually Nathaniel Richards’ debut comic book appearance (Fantastic Four #19).
KANG’S FIRST ATTEMPT AT SUPER-VILLAINY: Scarlet Centurion
Having suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Fantastic Four, Nathaniel Richards abandoned the Rama-Tut persona and decided to return to his own time. However, he ended up encountering a time storm and his time machine crash landed him in the present day of Earth-616 where he met the villain Doctor Doom. Inspired by Doom’s persona, Nathaniel decided to don the moniker Scarlet Centurion in Avengers Annual #2. This Doom-inspired villain, Scarlet Centurion, gave the world a run for its money. But Scarlet Centurion was ultimately defeated by the Avengers and banished 4000 years into the future.
THE CREATION OF “PRIME” KANG
Banished by the Avengers to the 40th century, Nathaniel Richards shed the Scarlet Centurion moniker and that’s when Kang the Conqueror was born. This Kang the Conqueror is what the world calls the first and main Kang. Kang’s time traveling exploits from this point forward ultimately create multiple variants of Kang, each with their own storylines. For this reason, Marvel fans will often refer to the original Kang as “Prime” Kang. “Prime” Kang made his first appearance in Avengers #8, where he nearly defeated the Avengers but was ultimately thwarted by The Wasp and Rick Jones and was sent fleeing back to his original time.
RAMA-TUT VS. “PRIME” KANG VS. IMMORTUS
Following his defeat, “Prime” Kang went on to conquer a slew of other galaxies and timelines over a 60 year period of conquest. But Kang eventually began to feel like an administrator, tired of conquering, and returned to ancient Egypt to once again become Rama-Tut.
Rama-Tut then returned to the present where he fought his past self (Kang) and met his future self (Immortus). Rama-Tut eventually learned Immortus (whose first Marvel Comics appearance is in Avengers #10) was an administrator working for the Time Keepers to protect the flow of time. But learning of his boring fate caused Rama-Tut to reject his destiny. This caused a divergence that separated Rama-Tut from Immortus and allowed them both to exist independently — much like how the Avengers’ time traveling caused a divergent Loki to come into existence in Avengers: Endgame. Having rejected his destiny, this divergent Rama-Tut returned to conquering as Kang while Immortus continued to act as a puppet master.
THE KANG DYNASTY
Back on his path of vanquishment, the divergent Rama-Tut resumes his identity of Kang the Conqueror and embarks on a slew of triumphs, forming a massive empire in preparation to invade Earth-616 in The Kang Dynasty. The strangest plotline in The Kang Dynasty involves Kang deciding he needs to father the ultimate son named Marcus. This results in Kang fathering, training, and killing 22 sons named Marcus before he determines Marcus XXIII to be worthy. Kang then has Marcus XXIII don the mantle of Scarlet Centurion, and the two invade Earth in another battle against the Avengers that Kang ultimately loses. And due to Scarlet Centurion betraying Kang in the process, Kang ultimately kills Marcus XXIII.
OTHER NOTABLE KANG VARIANTS / ALIASES / ORGANIZATIONS
Much like Netflix’s The Sandman, Kang is Endless. But here are a few of his notable variations.
SECRET WARS KANG (The Most Mid Of Kang Variants)
Taking place before The Kang Dynasty, the Secret Wars storyline features a weak variant of Kang the Conqueror that is abducted by the Beyonder to a planet called Battle World. Battle World is a planet made of pieces of other planets from across the multiverse. On this planet, the Beyonder forces all the Marvel heroes to fight against all the Marvel villains. Over the course of the Secret War, Doctor Doom ends up killing and reviving Kang the Conqueror as a show of power. The villains ultimately lose to the Marvel heroes and the Beyonder is defeated.
IRON LAD (The Most Heroic & Tragic Version Of Kang)
This is my favorite version of Kang. Iron Lad is a member of The Young Avengers and debuts in Young Avengers #1. After Kang the Conqueror visits himself as a teen, he scares his younger self so much so that young Nathaniel decides to become a superhero. Nathaniel dons armor that looks similar to Iron Man’s armor. But ultimately, Nathaniel learns it’s for the greater good to become Kang the Conqueror (the alternate path saw the Avengers perish). So Nathaniel has his memory erased and becomes Kang, and Iron Lad is replaced with an AI.
THE COUNCIL OF KANGS (The Kang Organization Most Like The Council Of Ricks)
In Avengers #267, Immortus manipulates “Prime” Kang to team up with two other Kang variants to form The Council of Kangs. The Council of Kangs then embark on a quest to eliminate all other Kang variants and to replace them with robots. Interesting.
THE COUNCIL OF CROSS-TIME KANGS (Like The Council Of Kangs, But Heroic)
Even more interesting is The Council Of Cross-Time Kangs, an organization made of humans and aliens disguised as Kang that first made their appearance in Avengers #292. The particular individuals on this Council, having all killed a Kang variant in their timeline, decided to band together only to eventually meet their demise at the hands of Alioth & “Prime” Kang.
VICTOR TIMELY (The Kang Variant Most Like The Monopoly Man)
Debuting in Avengers: The Terminatrix Objective #3, Mayor Victor Timely is a divergent version of Kang that establishes the quiet town of Timely, Wisconsin in 1901 to serve as his base. Working out of this town for multiple decades, Victor Timely eludes suspicion by “dying” and coming back as his son on more than one occasion. During Kang’s time as Victor Timely Jr., he meets a visiting college graduate named Phineas Horton and provides Horton with insights that lead to the creation of the first Human Torch.
MISTER GRYPHON (The Kang Variant Most Like Kingpin)
Making his first appearance in All-New, All-Different Avengers Vol. 1: The Magnificent Seven, Mister Gryphon is a Kang variant that gets trapped in the early 21st century after a glitch in the timestream. Unwilling to wait for two centuries, Nathaniel Richards creates his own dynasty by changing his name to Mister Gryphon and establishing a company called Qeng Enterprises. Much like Kingpin, Mister Gryphon utilizes villains to help grow his empire. Ultimately, a combined effort by Vision and Thor led to the defeat of the sinister Mister Gryphon.
KANGAROO THE CONQUEROR (The Marsupial Version Of Kang)
Appearing in Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham #15, Kangaroo the Conqueror is the most hilarious of all Kang variants because well, he’s a Kangaroo. Enough said.
THE IMMORTUS END GAME
The most important thing to know about Kang the Conqueror is that he (and his variants) wouldn’t exist if Immortus didn’t allow it. Eventually in the Marvel comics, we come to learn Immortus has been manipulating Nathaniel Richards / Rama-Tut / Kang the Conqueror all along in order to guide Nathaniel through the steps necessary to one day become Immortus.
We also learn Immortus has been using Kang to try and defeat the Avengers all along. You see, Immortus’ end game is actually to break up the Avengers so he can isolate and capture Scarlet Witch. With Scarlet Witch, Immortus hopes to use her power to mind control all timelines. Pretty interesting stuff. It puts into perspective that no matter how much danger the Avengers may be in due to Kang the Conqueror, the real threat is actually Immortus.
KANG THE CONQUEROR – MCU Predictions & Wishes
Jonathan Majors’ He Who Remains character is actually based on Immortus. This makes me wonder if He Who Remains may have tricked the ultimate MCU tricksters (Loki + Sylvie) by faking his own death in the Loki finale. Think about it. If He Who Remains really was after Wanda’s power, or some other means of controlling time, throwing the multiverse off his scent by “dying” and unleashing his variants upon the Avengers makes a whole lot of sense.
Or perhaps I’m wrong and the Immortus of the MCU really is dead and isn’t coming back. In that case, Kang the Conqueror’s arch nemesis (himself) is truly gone in a way that has never been seen in the comics. And this, my friends, would mean his destiny is in his hands alone.
Either way, if the MCU stays anywhere close to the comic book storylines, I expect the MCU film Avengers: The Kang Dynasty to showcase the full arsenal of Kang the Conqueror’s futuristic weaponry. And hopefully we’ll even get to see some homages to the Scarlet Centurion and Rama-Tut in the process. Oh and I’m sure Disney+ must be dying to produce a Young Avengers show starring the younger version of Nathaniel Richards. Also, who bets we’ll see Kangaroo the Conqueror in Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse 2?
Based on the info you’ve just absorbed, what do you predict will happen in the MCU when Kang the Conqueror makes his intro? And what do you hope to see in terms of how his character is portrayed? Let us know in the comments!