The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has officially given us our first look at Kang the Conqueror through the final episode of Loki on Disney+. The iconic reveal of this powerful villain looks to set the stage for the next big baddie that our MCU heroes must overcome — sending a ripple effect in the future stories for Phase Four. But unless you follow Marvel comics religiously, you probably have a very limited idea of who Kang is. We’ve done most of the legwork for you – here’s a guide to everything that you must know about the MCU’s next big baddie and the implications that this character has on the future of our heroes:
Before we proceed, it must be noted that if you haven’t seen the season finale of Loki, you are to proceed with caution for there will be spoilers up ahead.
Powers and Abilities
Kang the Conqueror is a unique villain in the Marvel Universe due to the fact that he has no superhuman abilities. He is an extraordinary genius, an expert historical scholar, and a master physicist who specializes in time travel. He is armed with futuristic technology and wears highly advanced battle armor that enhances his strength. It is in this very armor that Kang gains the capabilities of harnessing energy, holographic illusions, and force-field projections. The armor also has a 30-day supply of air and food and is capable of controlling other forms of technology. Kang also has a time-ship which gives him access to technology from any century.
Who is Kang the Conqueror?
The Origins of The Conqueror
Before gaining the title of Kang the Conqueror, Nathaniel Richards was a 31st-century scholar whose fascination with history led him to his discovery of time travel. There are hints that he was a distant relative to Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic and Dr. Doom from the Fantastic 4 universe, although this part of Kang’s lineage is still vague and unclear. Being bored with the utopian society of the 31st century, Nathaniel Richards would then travel to Ancient Egypt aboard a Sphinx-shaped time-ship, donning the name Pharaoh Rama-Tut. As Rama-Tut, Nathaniel found himself enjoying his reign as a powerful Pharaoh who would use his futuristic technology to rule. It was smooth sailing for Rama Tut’s reign until the appearance of the Fantastic Four which pushes him to retreat to the 20th century.
Nathaniel would then briefly become a villain named the Scarlet Centurion who tried to manipulate the Avengers. It was at this time as well that he met up with another villainous character, his possible ancestor, Doctor Doom. After some time Nathaniel would then try to return to his original timeline in the 31st century but in turn, accidentally miscalculates his travels. He, therefore, finds himself in the 40th century amidst a violent war on a ruined Earth. The people in this futuristic society had somehow lost the knowledge of how to use their advanced weaponry which Nathaniel takes advantage of to create a massive and powerful army of his own. In just under a month Nathaniel was ruling over this war-torn Earth now referring to himself as Kang the Conqueror.
The Conqueror’s Reign of Terror
Kang was unstoppable in the 40th century but his greed for power took over — wanting to rule over a much younger version of Earth. On his first foray into the 20th Century as Kang the Conqueror, he would immediately battle against the Avengers, capturing all members of the team except for The Wasp. The tiny superhero with the aid of a special gun was all it took to overpower the villain which sent Kang running. Kang however, was far from over in terms of his plans of conquering the 20th century with several attempts that would follow after his first encounter with the Avengers. Some of these attempts include using radiation that beings from his timeline were immune against, which was subsequently foiled by Thor who absorbed the rays using his hammer and sends the warlord back into retreat mode. He also attempted to defeat the Avengers using a Spider-Man robot, which would later be destroyed by none other than Spidey himself.
The Conqueror’s Quest for Love
After these several attempts and battles against the Avengers, Kang would then travel back into the future where he would then fall in love with a princess named Ravonna Renslayer (fans of Loki would find this name familiar, more on this later). The princess however would refuse Kang’s request for marriage which would cause the Conqueror to take several measures to woo the royal. One of these attempts included Kang capturing the Avengers and bringing them into the future in order to beat them up in front of Ravonna who would later help the team in an attempt to beat Kang. The Avengers would eventually fail but Kang out of his love for Ravonna would later decide to let her go despite her betrayal. This did not bode well with a general from the 40th century who viewed this act of mercy as a sign of Kang’s weakness — prompting an assassination of the Conqueror. Ravonna would then sacrifice herself for Kang, killing her in the process.
The Many Versions of Kang
The death of Ravonna sent Kang spiraling into a continuous conquest while still being haunted and devastated by the perishing of his one true love. Kang would then, later on, stumble upon a Limbo dimension separate from Space and Time where he would have complete view and control of the sacred timeline. He would use this as an opportunity to rescue Ravonna and bring her with him in the Limbo dimension. This action opened the door for new timelines to occur and for variants of himself to exist all at once.
Kang the Conqueror in the MCU
The first season of Loki not only introduced us to Kang but also to characters associated with the famous Marvel villain. Ravonna Renslayer, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, appeared as early as the first episode of the show and served as an instant hint for many die-hard Marvel comic book fans to associate with Kang the Conqueror. By the fifth episode, the hints kept on coming with the appearance of the monstrous Alioth or more known as the Temporal Limbo itself. All these characters point to the deeper build-up for Kang as a major villain in the MCU.
One of the things that make the MCU’s version of Kang so exciting is Jonathan Majors’ portrayal of the character. Majors has had just a few standout performances as of late one being his role as Atticus Freeman in the HBO series Lovecraft Country. His performance however as Kang in Loki stood out for all the right reasons. He was able to create a character that was both terrifying to witness in all his intellectual madness and superiority while at the same time, being so entertaining to watch.
Despite the limited amount of time that we do get with Kang in the finale, it is clear that Sylvie’s actions have dire consequences which will open up the door for more reiterations of Kang — we see one of these effects as early as the last scene of Loki season one with a version of Kang as the head of the TVA in a new timeline.
It has been confirmed that Kang will return as the central villain of the upcoming Marvel film Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which is still scheduled for a 2023 release date. Loki has set us on a rollercoaster ride of different emotions with a season finale that fans will surely be talking about for days on end. It will be quite some time before we see Kang again but we are certain that it will be worth the wait.
In the meantime, here is a list of MCU films and shows for 2021 to look out for:
- The Black Widow – available now
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – September 3
- Eternals – November 5
- Spiderman: No Way Home – December 17
- WandaVision – available now
- Falcon and the Winter Soldier – available now
- Loki – available now
- Marvel’s What If…? – August 11
- Ms. Marvel – late 2021
- Hawkeye – late 2021
Check out our other coverage of the MCU: