Avengers 5 theory introduces a heroic Kang variant

Not every Kang variant is a bad guy.

The Loki Season 1 finale didn’t just bring Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) into the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the first time — it also set up the arrival of multiple Kangs.

Indeed, not only does Kang have just as many variants scattered throughout the multiverse as everyone else in the MCU, but most of them also want to spread their dominion over every reality. That makes Kang an antagonist far more formidable and powerful than even Thanos himself.

But just because most of the Kang variants seek multiversal domination doesn’t mean they all do. In fact, it’s possible that Marvel could introduce a version of Kang who, unlike his alternate selves, decides to be a hero.

Jonathan Majors as He Who Remains in Loki.

Marvel Studios

The Kang Who Went Good — Many Marvel fans are beginning to speculate that the studio will introduce Iron Lad in a future MCU film or TV show. In the comics, the character is not only an alternate version of Nathaniel Richards, a.k.a. Kang the Conqueror, but he’s also a prolific member of the Young Avengers.

The on-screen formation of that superhero team is highly rumored to be part of Marvel’s secretive Phase Four plans, with several of its key members confirmed to make their MCU debuts in the next few years. Combine those rumors with the introduction of Kang variants in Loki, and it seems like only a matter of time before Iron Lad shows up on the big (or small) screen.

Who is Iron Lad?

Iron Lad revealing his true identity in Young Avengers #1. Published in 2005.

Marvel Comics

Like his evil selves, the Iron Lad version of Nathaniel Richards was born in the 30th century on an alternate Earth known as “Earth-6311.” An inventive genius from an early age, Nathaniel’s life was changed forever when he was 16, and a fight between him and a bully was interrupted by the arrival of his future self, Kang the Conqueror. Kang gave him a powerful suit of Neuro-Kinetic armor and went on to show him his future as a ruler, hoping that it would motivate him to begin his quest for universal dominion at a younger age.

Instead, the glimpses into his future had the opposite effect. Horrified by his future self’s actions, the younger Nathaniel Richards used the armor given to him by Kang to travel back in time. Arriving on Earth-616 in the modern age, he discovered that the Avengers had been disbanded but ultimately began recruiting other heroes to form the Young Avengers.

He redesigned his armor to resemble that of Iron Man’s and began calling himself Iron Lad. At the same time, the rest of the team’s members went on to include Eli Bradley (Patriot), Teddy Altman (Hulkling), Billy Kaplan (Asgardian/Wiccan), Kate Bishop (Hawkeye), and Cassie Lang (Stature). He and Cassie even ended up developing feelings for each other.

However, Iron Lad was eventually forced to return to his time due to the negative effect his presence in the past was having on the timeline. In the future, he began researching ways to travel through time without affecting the timestream and eventually returned to Earth-616 as Iron Lad. That tenure led to him crossing paths with some notable Marvel heroes, including Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch.

Ultimately, his tenure as Iron Lad came to an end with the death of Cassie Lang. Filled with grief, he became a villain known as Kid Immortus, and it’s said that he ultimately ended up following the same villainous path as his future self, Kang the Conqueror.

Iron Lad as depicted in Avengers Vol. 5 #34. Published in 2014.

Marvel Comics

The Inverse Analysis — Given Iron Lad’s role in forming the Young Avengers, it seems very likely that he’ll appear in the MCU at some point soon. Whether that be in a Young Avengers spin-off or Avengers 5 is a total mystery. Marvel is clearly building towards a Young Avengers team-up of some kind in the MCU, but there’s no telling right now which titles could actually feature the team itself.

Whenever the Young Avengers do arrive, though, don’t be surprised if their lineup includes a heroic young Kang variant named Iron Lad. Not only would that be a nice nod to comics lore, but it’d also add an interesting and complex new layer to the entire Kang plot Marvel is currently weaving together.

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