Kang the Conqueror is coming! With Jonathan Majors reportedly cast as the villainous master of time in Ant-Man 3, the MCU is picking up a fine replacement to monologuing mass murderer Thanos.
But how do you top the man who killed half of all sentient beings in the universe with the snap of a finger? If Kang’s comics history is any indication, you do it with a guy whose ego crosses millennia and multiverses.
Kang’s primary ability is there’s…an awful lot of him. And his omega level arrogance. Also he breaks grammar. Or will have breaking grammar. I don’t know, time travel, man. Let’s take a giant shot of something hard as I try and explain how the Kang of the comics might translate to the screen.
Original Flavor Kang
So there’s Kang the Conqueror. He had in his possession a time machine and a deep knowledge of weapons technology, both of which he used to take over the entire galaxy in the 41st century, and then bounce around the time stream to conquer various eras.
There’s also Nathaniel Richards (no, not that one, except also yes that one – hang on), born in the 31st century onto a post-scarcity world of plenty. Nathaniel was a genius, but was bullied as a teenager, and one day when he picked a fight with one of his bullies, Kang the Conqueror showed up to stop the fight.
Kang revealed that the bully was about to kill Nathaniel, and Kang couldn’t have that because he would cease to exist. Nathaniel, horrified at what he would become, uses his genius to time travel back to the Marvel Universe’s present and slap on a set of Iron Man armor, becoming the Young Avengers’ Iron Lad.
That’s two Kangs, if you’re keeping score at home.
Some time post-Iron Lad, Nathaniel was back in his future and bored out of his skull, so he decided to build himself a fresh time machine and travel back to the ancient past. He crashed his time machine in ancient Egypt and took over as Emperor Rama Tut.
That’s three Kangs.
The Scarlet Centurion
Rama Tut eventually had a run in with the Fantastic Four, who tossed him from the Egyptian throne and sent him running back to his own timeline. However, he got caught in a time storm and ended up back in the present day Marvel Universe for a bit, ditching his Rama Tut identity and setting himself up with new gear and a new name: the Scarlet Centurion.
This brings us to four Kangs, boys and girls.
Scarlet Centurion was defeated by the Avengers and returned to his original timeline and original identity as Kang, but as he got older, he got more and more tired of the petty conquests that were left for a man of his magnitude, so he ditched his girlfriend in the future and went back to the past as Rama Tut again. While in the past, he found out that he could functionally live forever (and thus learn forever) in Limbo, the hell dimension ruled by Colossus’ sister Magik.
While in transit between dimensions, Rama Tut split into two beings: one who saw his future and was pleased with it, and one who was furious about it. The pleased one would eventually become the godlike Avengers villain Immortus, who weeds timelines like a garden.
The other would become yet another Kang, ready to fight the old man he becomes for being, to paraphrase, so chickenshit.
Those are Kangs five, six and seven, I think.
Another Kang variant traveled back to 1901 to try and slow play his conquering with the classic “let compound interest do the work” move. This Kang posed as Victor Timely, built his own town in Wisconsin, got elected Mayor, and started his own company. He then let that company grow over a hundred years, inspiring Phineas Horton to create the first Human Torch android (no relation to everyone’s favorite, Johnny Storm). Eventually, he just got too good at business and kept replacing “his father” as the years went along.
This brings us to a grand total (so far) of eight Kangs.
I could go on for days. Literally.
There are two Kang organizations that span eras and the multiverse – the Council of Cross-Time Kangs and the Council of Kangs. And that’s probably where the movie version of Kang comes in. He’s a really easy, fun power set to portray because he can be everything all at the same time on the screen. And he’s an egomaniac with whom only DOOM’S SHINING SELF-REGARD can compete. Maybe that’s where the Fantastic Four comes into play – the only person more arrogant than Ant Man 3’s new villain is the FF’s classic one.