When Jonathan Majors made its debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Loki, he was simply “He Who Remains”, an enigmatic being who claimed to watch over the timeline to prevent other incarnations of himself from wreaking havoc. Once he was slain (by Loki’s variant hand Sylvie), however, these other incarnations were allowed to wreak havoc, altering the calendar to take control of the Time Variance Authority – and probably much more, as we’ll see in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. But who is Kang the Conqueror?
This is an excellent question that has no easy answer. Kang is not only a character who has been retconned in many ways since he made his debut battling the Fantastic Four in 1963, but also, as a time-traveling warlord with access to the multiverse, there are thousands and thousands of Kangs, all willing and able to alter timelines and their own pasts. here is a spoiler free guide of those you should possibly know before embarking on this new phase of the MCU.
Under its different masksarmors and names of warKang is actually a human named Nathaniel Richards, a descendant of the Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards, born in the 31st century.entrance. He found a time travel device created by Doctor Doom, and that’s where all the trouble started.
In the character’s very first appearance, the Fantastic Four only encountered him as a 31st-century criminal who had traveled to ancient Egypt (in a sphinx-shaped spaceship, no less) and had took control of the ancient kingdom, posing as Pharaoh Rama-Tut. The Fantastic Four have arrived on him in the past while searching for a special herb that could potentially solve the Thing’s girlfriend’s blindness and sent him packing, forcing Rama-Tut to flee to the future.
Kang the Conqueror
Unfortunately for Nathaniel/Rama-Tut, he missed his full millennium, arriving in a war-torn world that had essentially fallen into a new Dark Age. With his superior knowledge and technology, Nathaniel was quite easily able to conquer the ruined world and thus renamed himself Kang the Conqueror. Unfortunately for almost everyone, the world he ruled was so parched that he decided to conquer the 20th century instead, only to be thwarted by the Avengers, who became his primary antagonists. Honestly, since then he’s spent at least as much time trying to destroy the superhero team as he tried to take over the world, including going further back in time to stop the Avengers from forming in first place.
If that seems clear so far, well, here’s where it stops. In a branching timeline (or, to put it another way, another section of the multiverse), Nathaniel-as-Rama Tut continued to flee through time instead of conquering his future world and becoming Kang. As he grew older, he began to seek immortality, discovering the realm of Limbo, which, like the Quantum Realm in the MCU, is a place outside of the Multiverse that has access to all of time. This Rama-Tut has been engaged/ordered by the Time Variance Authority with maintaining the timeline, meaning he’s fought against himself as Kang on multiple occasions. Immortus is certainly less evil than Kang and has aided or called upon the Avengers for help on several occasions, but he has also fought and tricked the heroes on several occasions. That said, he apparently officiated Vision and Scarlet Witch’s wedding.…?
Again another Rama-Tut from the timeline encountered modern-day Doctor Doom while traveling through time. Inspired by Doom’s rad armor, this Kang made himself a really silly outfit and took on the name Scarlet Centurion. He traveled to another universe’s Earth and convinced his Avengers that he was a hero with a terrible warning about the future: aAll superheroes and villains had to be locked up to save the world. The result was an increasingly fascist group of Avengers, which the Centurion eventually pitted against the regular Marvel Universe Avengers. (Also, in one timeline, Kang has a son named Marcus who also took on the nickname Scarlet Centurion, but let’s not even care.)
Frustrated by his various defeats, Kang—THE Kang, A Kang, however, went to visit the 16-year-old himself, hoping to inspire him to launch his conquering career early. He even gifted himself a version of his techno-armor to help him. But the plan backfired when young Nathaniel grew up horrified at the villain he was to become, and instead used the armor to travel to the 21st centuryenter and become the hero Iron Lad. He helped form the Young Avengers and fell in love with Cassie Lang – yes, Scott Lang’s daughter – but was ultimately forced to return to the future and follow his fate to protect the timeline.
When a version of Kang got stuck in the 21st century, he became the CEO of a big corporation, amassing wealth to harass the Avengers. Eventually, he was discovered and thrown into the timestream. He was also Asian American for…reasons?
This kang appeared in the 19th century in an attempt to start conquering the world even earlier. HWe founded the town of Timely, Wisconsin and the Timely Foundation, a company whose technology was so advanced the whole world depended on it when the Fantastic Four were formed. Because Kang spends so much time out of the timestream, he ages incredibly slowly, but he got around this problem by creating robotic versions of himself who aged, which allowed him to continue to run things behind the scenes for generations
This Kang, from another part of the multiverse, worked for the Time Variance Authority, abused his power, and also posed as Rama-Tut. Alas, he was arrested by his bosses and the Fantastic Four and stuck in a time loop for his transgressions.
The Kang Council
Thanks to the countless timelines (many of which were created by playing with the past and/or itself) of the Multiverse, there are also countless Kangs running around. Disgusted by certain “inferior” versions of himself, the “first” Kang enlisted two of his more cunning variants to help him wipe out the others. Ultimately, this was all secretly engineered by Immortus, who was trying to destroy any versions of Kang that didn’t end up like his slightly more benign future.
The one who stays
Oddly, the one left is not a Kang, at least in the Marvel comics, but I’ve included him here because he’s clearly some sort of past Kang in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (since he was played by Jonathan Majors). Like its counterpart in Loki TV series, the comic book version of He Who Remains is the founder and leader of the Time Variance Authority, and thus the boss of Immortus. Along with keeping the timeline clean and neat (or trying, at least), He Who Remains is the last living being at the end of the universe, and determined to use his timekeepers to tell the following multiverse on the errors of the ways of its predecessor. Since we know that Loki’s He Who Remains was also trying to stop variants of himself from hijacking the multiverse, like Immortus, he appears to be a combination of the two characters put together.
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