The following story contains very light spoilers for Episode 1 of Loki.
- Fans have long been wondering who the MCU’s next big, overarching villain would be, and at the very least got a hint at one of them.
- Kang the Conqueror, a character set to make his debut in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, made his silent MCU debut in episode 1 of Loki.
- Kang appeared multiple times throughout the episode.
There’s been a big question among the MCU’s fanbase ever since Avengers: Endgame hit theaters about who could possibly be the next Thanos—a major villain teased over several projects before eventually reaching an epic showdown. Some thought that might be Mephisto, the Marvel Comics version of the Devil. Others have questioned if maybe it’s time for the MCU to bring in its own version of Norman Osborn, the Spider-Man arch-nemesis played most famously by Willem Dafoe in Sam Raimi’s films. But one big villain we know for sure is coming—the time-traveling Kang the Conqueror—was just introduced in the first episode of Disney+’s Loki, without so much as even his name being uttered.
In a sequence narrator by a talking clock named Miss Minutes (prolific voice actor Tara Strong), Loki (and the viewers) learn all about the Time Variance Authority‘s whole deal, and, in particular, the three “Timekeepers.” As the story goes, a long, long time ago, there was a battle of timelines, a war within the multiverse that nearly resulted in the end of anything resembling life. That was, until three “Timekeepers” came into prominence, reorganizing the messiness of the multiverse into one “sacred timeline.”
One of those three Timekeepers, for anyone who knows what to look for, is clearly Kang the Conqueror. Kang is a longtime Marvel Comics villain, who first appeared (as Kang, he previously went by the name Rama-Tut) in Avengers #8 back in 1964. Kang is known for his time-traveling abilities—which makes him a perfect fit for this moment in Loki, and helps to clearly confirm that it is, in fact, him.
Kang’s appearance in the MCU is no surprise. Jonathan Majors has already been officially cast as the character, and is scheduled to make his official debut in 2023’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. But if you look at the Timekeepers—the one in the center is clearly Kang, and the animated face even looks a bit like Majors, as opposed to one of the many artist renderings from his various Marvel Comic depictions.
The Miss Minutes video goes on to talk about “Variants,” (what Loki is; basically, anyone who does something that wasn’t supposed to happen, according to the all-knowing sacred timeline that’s been set in place) and “Nexus events,” (which are what an event is called when someone breaks off the path that they’re supposed to be on).
If the latter sounds familiar, it’s because there was already a fake commercial in WandaVision teasing Nexus, which did, in a way, confirm this moment was coming. In the Marvel Comics, Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch is one of the few “Nexus Beings,” meaning she can travel within alternate dimensions at minimal damage to herself; Kang is another Nexus being. It feels clear that MCU is prepping everyone for some major multiverse happenings, with Nexus beings and Nexus events at the center.
The animated version of Kang was consistently at the center of the three Timekeepers each time he was shown on screen. And he later appeared again, in a sculpture in the background of Loki’s TVA hearing. Once again, Kang was the center timekeeper.
It’s intriguing to wonder where things might go from here, since it is so definitively, clearly, Kang the Conqueror. The character of Kang in the history of Marvel Comics is almost always a master physicist, traveling through times and creating alternate versions of himself. Could Kang perhaps be a rogue timekeeper? Could he be simply a bad actor who, similarly to what we presume Loki will do, bounced through time and found himself in a position of extreme power?
Things could legitimately go in either direction. It’s possible that Kang will be referenced and even appear before Loki is over. Majors casting as Kang was first announced last September, but he wasn’t officially revealed as Kang until December, which may not have given enough time to work any sort of small appearance into the show. That would make this brief Kang cameo more similar to the first appearance of Thanos, during the Avengers (2012) end credits; remember, at that time Josh Brolin hadn’t even been cast in the role.
Make no mistake, though: this is the first appearance of MCU Kang. And you’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the future.
An official Loki poster had that Timekeeper—Kang, we really think—front and center
Ahead of the debut of Loki Episode 4, Marvel shared a new poster putting statues of the three Timekeepers front and center. And center of that was that one Timekeeper—the one who looks like he might just be a time-traveling bad guy. Take a look below—and look even a bit closer at the headgear framing the face. That’s a character distinction.
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We still don’t know if we’ll get a Jonathan Majors appearance, or perhaps just a mention or a reference, but that has to be this villain. It would be a Ralph Bohner-level troll at this point for it to go any other direction.
Kang’s appearance in the MCU has been hinted throughout the series so far, including the presence of Judge Ravonna Renslayer
Throughout the second episode of Loki, we continued to see references to that middle Timekeeper, who certainly resembles Kang (and his future MCU actor, Majors). But it’s also worth noting that the episode more prominently featured Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a character who in this MCU iteration has so far served as the messenger of sorts between the Timekeepers and Loki (and Mobius, too, as we see), in her role as what essentially amounts to TVA judge.
But we should probably also mention that the comic version of Ravonna Renslayer is…Kang the Conqueror’s on-again, off-again girlfriend. She and he have numerous intergalactic and inter-dimensional adventures, that usually come down to his loving her, and her resenting him due to his ambition to conquer. The MCU often deviates from the comic baseline, but this must be mentioned in this scenario.
Mobius, in Ravonna’s office, also notices items in her office that he doesn’t remember bringing her. She suggests that she’s got other agents bringing her things, but the context here seems to be setting up a bigger twist. It’s possible that we’re building towards a Kang reveal (or, at least a mention).
The figure resembling Kang continued to appear throughout the episode as that middle Timekeeper. The image above is in Ravonna’s office.
We also see enormous statues of the Timekeepers in the TVA, right near the elevators. That scale tells you just how big they are; that middle Timekeeper still looking mighty familiar. We’ll hold out and see what other revelations we get.
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