THE HISTORY OF LOKI'S MAIN VILLAIN
HE WHO REMAINS:
By Lee Parham
Who is the man behind the TVA? The surprise villain revealed in Loki has major implications for the future of the MCU. Spoilers ahead!
Warning! Spoilers ahead for Loki episode 6.
Loki introduced the Time Variance Authority (TVA) to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a group of agents tasked with keeping the sacred timeline in order, and erasing anyone who disrupts it.
The TVA is supposedly run by the Time Keepers, a trio of mysterious beings who prevent a multiversal war and permit what can occur on the timeline. However they aren’t all as they seem.
In a Wizard of Oz style twist, the Time Keepers are revealed to be nothing more than mindless androids being puppeted by someone behind the curtain.
The finale of Loki unveils the puppeteer to be a man referred to as “He Who Remains,” but many context clues and comic book connections queue in the fact that he is actually Kang the Conqueror.
Kang made his first appearance in The Avengers comics in 1964 as Nathaniel Richards, a scientist from the 31st century and a possible descendant of Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic).
Fascinated with history, Richards unearths time travel technology created by Victor von Doom. He uses it to travel back to ancient Egypt, where he becomes a Pharaoh known as Rama-Tut.
After his plan to rule Egypt is thwarted by a misplaced in time Fantastic Four, Richards then travels a thousand years in the future to discover an Earth overrun by advanced technology and war.
Obsessed with ruling, he reinvents himself as Kang the Conqueror and sets off to overthrow a past and more fertile Earth along with extending his reign across the galaxies to many different worlds.
Known for his time-hopping antics, many different versions of Kang have appeared throughout the years, including Immortus, an older Kang who resides in between time in a place known as Limbo.
A younger version of Kang discovers what his future-self is going to do. Hellbent on stopping it, he travels back in time and builds a suit of armor becoming the Iron Lad, one of the Young Avengers.
Continuing in the comic book tradition of many different variants from alternate timelines while putting its own unique spin on it, the MCU establishes their version of Kang as the ruler of the TVA in Loki.
While never referred to as Kang specifically, He Who Remains articulates how he discovered the multiverse and how a number of variants of himself fought each other to control it, resulting in war.
The TVA was created in an attempt to prevent said war, but after Sylvie kills him, the multiverse breaks free and creates any number of different universes, including the one where Loki is stuck at the end.
The final scene of Loki illustrates a branch timeline created by Sylvie’s actions, where Loki is now a stranger in the TVA and the Time Keepers’ statues have been replaced by a statue of Kang himself.
While little else is known about the MCU’s Kang, his connections to the multiverse in the comics along with many rumored appearances of such in the MCU set him up to be a major player moving forward.
Kang is portrayed by Lovecraft Country star Jonathan Majors, and is set to reprise his role theatrically in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania in 2023, likely as another variant of the character.
With connections to the multiverse, The Avengers, X-Men, and Fantastic Four in the comics, the introduction of Kang the Conqueror is an extremely exciting notion for the future of the MCU.