Revealed to be the Time Variance Authority’s mysterious creator, He Who Remains is a variant who single-handedly put an end to a devastating multiversal war that took place eons ago and which threatened to destroy all of existence. Jonathan Majors play the character, and as Loki Episode 6 eventually reveals, he’s not just some random cosmic being.
He’s a variant of Kang the Conqueror, an infamous Marvel comics villain that Majors is set to play in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. The episode never actually says Kang’s name aloud, though, or explicitly confirms the identity of the evil variant that He Who Remains repeatedly warns Loki and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) about. (Notably, He Who Remains does say he’s been called many names, one of which is “the Conqueror.”)
Majors’ scenes in Loki Episode 6 could very well have come across as confusing for anyone not well-versed in Marvel comics lore or the ongoing MCU rumor mill. Here’s a refresher on Kang the Conqueror, why he’s an important villain, and when you can expect to see him again.
Who is Kang the Conqueror?
Kang was born as Nathaniel Richards in the 30th century on Earth-6311. On Kang’s Earth, humanity never suffered through the dark ages, and as a result, the humans there advanced much faster than humans on other Earths did. The planet was later saved from war and brought into a period of peace thanks to the efforts of Nathaniel Richards, a time traveler from Earth-616, who settled on the planet and used his knowledge to create a new and better society on Earth-6311. He eventually became known as The Benefactor.
Almost two millennia later, a descendant of Nathaniel’s (Kang) took an interest in cross-dimensional travel. He researched the Benefactor's life and eventually found parts of his ancestor’s time machine, which he used to begin his travels through time. His motives? Nothing less than complete and total universal domination.
He’s proven to be a formidable foe for many of Marvel’s greatest heroes and teams, including the Avengers and Fantastic Four.
It is worth noting, however, that Kang is often the cause of his biggest problems. His conquests through time have been known to result in the creation of different variants of himself, some of whom don’t share his views about the world or his purpose in it. That’s part of what makes the appearance of Jonathan Majors as He Who Remains, a Kang variant who wants to prevent the multiverse from breaking out into war, so fascinating and fun. Not only is it an interesting way to meet the character, but it also suggests that the only thing that’s been keeping Kang back from running wild in the MCU up to this point is, well, himself.
Kang is also rumored to be a descendant of Reed Richards, a.k.a. Mister Fantastic, but that lineage has never been confirmed in the comics.
What are Kang’s powers?
Kang doesn’t really have powers. Born in the 30th century, he had a much longer lifespan than humans in the 20th century, but what makes Kang powerful and dangerous is his superhuman intellect, unparalleled skills as a military tactician, and indomitable will. He’s able to create and wield incredibly sophisticated technology and understands the mechanics of time travel in a way that practically no other Marvel character does. He’s a fearsome general and combatant and has managed to conquer thousands of worlds in the comics.
Kang also wears armor made out of materials from the 40th century, which responds to his thoughts and imbues him with superhuman abilities. The armor gives him superhero strength and durability. It also allows him to travel through time, subvert the laws of gravity, fire concussive bolts from his fingers, and summon any weapon he wishes from throughout all of history, among other things.
In other words, he’s a genius human from the future with a suit of armor the likes of which you’ve never quite seen before.
Who plays Kang the Conqueror?
Kang is played in the MCU by actor Jonathan Majors. Most viewers will probably recognize him for his lead performance as Atticus Freeman in HBO’s short-lived but acclaimed drama series Lovecraft Country. He received notable praise and an Emmy nomination for his performance in the series.
But Majors has given several other impressive performances outside of Lovecraft Country. That includes his turn as Montgomery Allen in 2019’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco, which might very well be one of the best film performances of the past several years. He also gave a moving performance as Henry Woodson in the underrated Christian Bale-led 2017 western, Hostiles and a little more recently starred as David in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods.
He’s one of the most talented up-and-coming actors working in Hollywood right now, and he’s given some performances in non-MCU films and TV shows that really cannot be recommended enough. (You know, just in case his scene-stealing, layered work in Loki Episode 6 wasn’t already enough to make you curious about his work.)
Are there other Kang variants?
While He Who Remains is not a Kang variant in the comics, the character has assumed multiple different identities over the years. The most well-known is likely Immortus, an older version of Kang who assumed this identity after venturing into the realm of Limbo to retire and teach himself how to master time. He’s also masqueraded as Rama Tut, an ancient Egyptian pharaoh.
Kang’s other alternate identities/variants include Scarlet Centurion, Iron Lad, and Victor Timely. Coming off his introduction as He Who Remains in Loki Episode 6, there’s a real chance that Kang could show up in the MCU under the guise of one of these identities sometime down the line, so better to know about them now rather than later.
When will we see Kang again?
As of right now, the only upcoming MCU title we know Majors will be starring in as Kang is Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania in 2023. But Majors’ Loki role wasn’t announced beforehand, and there’s plenty of reason to believe fans won’t necessarily have to wait until Quantumania to see him again.
Loki Episode 6 concludes with creating an endless number of branching realities, which means there’s not only a multiverse again, but there are now multiple Kangs running around throughout it. The Loki finale’s closing moments even imply that Kang’s renewed presence in the multiverse is already starting to take effect.
With that in mind, of all the upcoming MCU films that he could appear in, two that seem the most likely are Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Both films are expected to deal heavily with the fracturing of the multiverse, which makes them prime candidates for Kang cameos. Given his suspected connection to Reed Richards in the comics, fans probably shouldn’t be surprised if Kang shows up in Marvel’s upcoming Jon Watts-directed Fantastic Four either.
Interested in learning more about Kang but don’t know where to start? The good news is that the character has been at the forefront of some pretty incredible comic book storylines over the years. Here are some notable arcs worth checking out:
- Avengers #8
- Avengers #23-24
- Young Avengers #1-6
- Avengers Forever
- Avengers #292-297
Loki is streaming now on Disney+.