It’s been one year since Kang’s light-hearted variant, He Who Remains, was killed by Sylvie in the season one finale of Loki. Before meeting his fate, the TVA leader warned the show’s protagonists about his evil multiversal variants coming to the main Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline to wreak havoc.
One of these evil variants is already confirmed for next year’s Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, with the role being reprised by Jonathan Majors (Lovecraft County, Da 5 Bloods). Since it’s almost a certainty that the time-traveling warrior will have a recurring role in the franchise, let’s take a look at five stories from Marvel comics featuring Kang the Conqueror that could be brought to life in the MCU.
The Kang Dynasty (Avengers: Vol. 3 #41 – #55)
Written by Kurt Busiek, this story has Kang arriving on Earth with his son, showing the United Nations horrible visions of the planet’s future. First believing that the Conqueror came to help, the Avengers are quickly disappointed when they learn that Kang intends to claim Earth for himself. He calls it protection instead of what it is, Universal domination.
Turning the planet’s armies against each other, Kang manages to accomplish his goal. He rules over humanity until the Avengers, led by Captain America, manage to defeat him using alien technology provided by the Triple Evil. The evil tyrant from the future manages to escape at the last second thanks to the help of his son.
A movie or two about Kang taking over the Earth after defeating the Avengers would certainly position him as a threat as big as Thanos. While the Mad Titan was content with erasing half of the universe and driving off into the sunset, Kang could stay on the planet to reign over his recently acquired kingdom until his eventual defeat.
An unavoidable destiny arrives in Young Avengers #4 – #6
Iron Lad is a younger Kang variant who, unlike his older counterpart, does not dedicate his time and effort to being a supervillain and instead joins the Young Avengers. During this particular story, written by Kieran Gillen, Kang goes back in time to search for Iron Lad and convince him to become a Conqueror sooner than he previously had. To the futuristic villain’s disappointment, his younger self has decided that he will remain a hero and reject his future.
The tragic twist that concludes this story is that, even though Kang the Conqueror is defeated by the Young Avengers, their confrontation begins to mess with the flow of time. Iron Lad realizes that to prevent his friends from being erased from history, he must eventually become the fearful villain that came after him in the first place.
While time travel has already been introduced to the MCU, a young hero escaping from his older, evil self would be a completely new and interesting narrative to explore. It would make even more sense considering how multiple Young Avengers members have already been introduced during the past couple of years.
Avengers #267 – #269: Kang vs. Immortus
A counterpoint to the previous story pits Kang against his future self, Immortus, who regrets the evil deeds from his past and tries to make up for it by helping stop his conquering past self. Besides being a similar time travel tale of Kang fighting against himself, this Avengers narrative is relevant because it was the first one the establish Kang as a single character who can have different variants in the Marvel Comics universe.
Established carefully, an antagonist who shows up during different eras and doesn’t have a chronological arch will bring a very much-needed breath of fresh air to the franchise. A villain that can be found across the time stream also opens the door for the return of beloved characters, such as Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, or Chris Evan’s Steve Rogers. Something that fans have been vocal about since their departure from the MCU.
Heroic Age: Avengers (Vol. 4)
Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr. create this adventure, where Kang interrupts the Avengers’ latest celebration to warn them about a future generation of their own team who are causing damage in the future. At first, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes have no way of confirming the information given to them, due to the fact that they do not have a time machine at that point in time. Plus it can be hard to trust information coming from a villain!
Kang needs to earn the team’s trust, so they will in turn help him save the world. This leads to many interesting character dynamics because the heroes don’t know who to trust while the time-traveling villain is running out of options. That type of tension and mystery sounds like a nice change of pace from these movies’ usual adventure and storytelling style.
Busiek, the same author who wrote the first story mentioned in this article, tells his final Kang adventure in this thrilling story, where there is a final confrontation between the futuristic tyrant and Immortus. There are no holds barred this time around, even going back to previous Kang stories within the timeline just to show the massive scale of the conflict.
Naturally, to adapt this final battle in a future MCU film, the character of Kang would need a quite extensive arc across several properties. This is the type of confrontation you build up to over time. But Marvel Studios has done long-term planning ever since they introduced Downey Jr.’s Iron Man to audiences all the way back in 2008, so it is more than possible for them to undertake the challenge.
In conclusion: Kang The Conqueror is the future, the present, and the past.
Whatever path Kevin Feige decides to forge for Kang will be one to look forward to. For almost sixty years and with many names and faces, Nathaniel Richards has terrorized the heroes of the Marvel Universe. Without any doubt, he’s getting ready to make a powerful statement on its cinematic counterpart, possibly testing the limits of characters such as Captain America (Anthony Mackie), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Captain Marvel (Brie Larson).
For now, we can only wait for Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man and Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp to face him. Maybe Loki’s TVA-involved variant will investigate more about him during his show’s second season. There is also Kang’s complicated past comics history with Ravonna Renslayer (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who is sure to pop up again in the MCU and is likely to have more run-ins with Kang.
And after that, there is no way to know for sure. The only certainty is that, wherever (and whenever) he pops up, Kang The Conqueror will be a force to be reckoned with.
But what do you think? Are there any other Kang stories you would like to see adapted by Marvel Studios? Let us know on Twitter!