Alright, Marvelites. Whose brain is melted after watching the season finale of Loki? The episode peels back the curtain on the show’s big bad, and already it feels like we’re dancing around major spoilers. So if you haven’t seen the finale yet, by all means, go watch it on Disney+ and then come back here and let’s talk about who this character is and what their appearance might mean for Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
All other variants: please proceed to the next TVA checkpoint.
This is your final warning: spoilers for Loki, Season 1, Episode 6, “For All Time. Always,” follow below.
So Long, Lovecraft Country. Hello, Kang Country
It turns out that Loki makes use of not one, but two alumni of HBO’s Lovecraft Country. Sadly, that show was unceremoniously canceled this month, but we’ve already seen Wunmi Mosaku portray Hunter B-15 on Loki. Now, she’s joined by her Lovecraft Country co-star Jonathan Majors, who appears in Loki‘s season finale as the mysterious “He Who Remains” in the Citadel at the End of Time. The door slides open and he’s sitting there in his lounge chair, holding a green apple, as if this were the Garden of Eden and he was the serpent, there to tempt Adam and Eve (or in this case, Tom Hiddleston‘s Loki and Sophia Di Martino‘s Sylvie). A big smile spreads across his face and he stands up and says, “This is wild.”
It sure is. If you are or ever have been a comic book reader, the appearance of Majors in Loki is one of those moments that might take you back to the Wednesday afternoon thrill of a new issue where some mind-blowing twist was delivered. This is part of the joy of serialized storytelling, whether it be comics or TV or shared movie universes.
We already knew that Majors had been cast as major Marvel villain Kang the Conqueror in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and there have been Kang Easter eggs in Loki since the very first episode. Knowing Marvel Studios’ history of mid-credits and post-credits teases, it was reasonable to assume that we might get something like that with Kang at the end of Loki. But that’s just it: Loki, the series, hasn’t ended yet. The mid-tease credits tease that we do get here is a stamp on Loki’s case file in the offices of the Time Variance Authority, telling us that “Loki will return in Season 2.”
Majors, meanwhile, winds up having a much bigger role to play in the finale, so much so that he almost hijacks Loki’s show for a few minutes as he sits behinds his desk and explains his “gambit” through expository dialogue. He’s never explicitly named as Kang, and in fact, his appearance is more like that of Immortus, an alternate version of Kang in the comics.
About that …
Jonathan Majors Could Be Both Immortus and Kang
Immortus didn’t wear a mask, just a funny hat, purple cape, and green robes. Majors doesn’t have the hat but he does have the cape and colors. He immediately makes an impression as a much zanier, more vamping Immortus or Kang than we ever saw in the comics. At one point, he even jumps up on a piece of furniture like he’s Tom Cruise on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
“Don’t tell me I’m a disappointment,” he says. It’s as if he’s reading the minds of hardcore Kang fans, who might be disappointed to see yet another classic Marvel villain rendered maskless in the MCU. Daniel Bruhl’s Baron Zemo did finally don his ski mask this year in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, but it was only for one scene, and the MCU has a history of leaving the masks off other villains, like the Shocker in Spider-Man: Homecoming. But I digress.
As his name implies, Kang the Conqueror is a warlord in the comics. He’s a time-traveler from the year 3000 (we love him 3000?) and Immortus is his older self. The two characters fought on opposite sides in the Avengers Forever mini-series, a series that also notably featured the Time Keepers. Before Loki‘s premiere, we speculated, based on the first two episodes, that the show could be “grafting part of the comics story of Kang and Immortus onto Loki.”
That is exactly what it has done. In the same article linked above, we also speculated that the Time Keepers could be major power players in the MCU going forward. As it turns out, the joke was on us there: the Time Keepers were nothing more than “robotic puppets,” as Marvel.com calls them. He Who Remains was the one pulling the strings. That major power player the show was setting up was, well, Jonathan Majors’ Kang. Loki does utilize more of the comic book backstory for the Time Keepers, however, when it takes us into the aforementioned Citadel at the End of Time and introduces us to the first and last Time Keeper.
Kang Could Also Open the Door to the Fantastic Four
In Loki, we’ve now seen multiple variants of the god of mischief, including an alligator. The info dump that He Who Remains delivers in the season finale (can we just call him Kang, for the sake of convenience?) reveals that there have been other, more dangerous variants of him, too. This one is the glue holding together the Sacred Timeline, and if Sylvie kills him, which she does, it could open the door to a whole universe (multiverse?) of trouble in the form of other Kangs.
In the comics, another version of Kang goes by the name of Nathaniel Richards. That’s not the same Nathaniel Richards who is the grandfather of Reed Richards, AKA Mr. Fantastic, the leader of the Fantastic Four. However, the character could be a descendent of the same man, which would give him a viable connection to Marvel’s First Family. Spider-Man: Far from Home director Jon Watts is already attached to a new Fantastic Four movie from Marvel Studios, so we know the FF is on the way in the MCU. Given the overlap between Kang and the Fantastic Four in the comics, it would make sense for him to help introduce them in the movies.
There’s also Kang’s status as a Thanos-level threat, someone capable of mucking with the temporal fabric of reality and the fate of all our heroes. Thanos got a post-credits tease in The Avengers back in 2012, and he made an appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, but it wasn’t until six years after his onscreen debut that Marvel Studios finally fleshed him out as a full villain (on his own twisted, genocidal hero’s quest) in Avengers: Infinity War.
With Majors already locked in for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania in 2023, it’s probably safe to expect that Kang will have a more active and immediate presence in Phase 4 of the MCU than Thanos did in Phase 2. In the comics, the character also has history with Gugu Mbatha-Raw‘s character, Ravonna Renslayer. They’ve been both lovers and enemies, so odds are strong they’ll be meeting in the movies or the show, too.
Loki‘s season 1 finale sees the Sacred Timeline branching off into a true multiverse (of madness). It leaves him marooned in a reality where Mobius (Owen Wilson) doesn’t know who he is, and where the statue of Kang stands in the atrium of the TVA in place of the Time Keepers. Mark that statue and mark its likeness, because it’s an important new face that you’ll be seeing more of in the MCU in the years to come.
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