Who is Kang the Conqueror? That’s surely the question many have going into Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, in which Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lily) go up against Kang, played by Jonathan Majors. Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe already got a taste of the character when Majors appeared in the Season 1 finale of Loki as He Who Remains. But those fans may also be wondering about the difference between Kang and He Who Remains, and why the same actor would play both parts.
Fortunately, you can find the answer in the pages of Marvel Comics. Unfortunately, it’s not a very straightforward one. Simply put, Kang the Conqueror is a human villain who travels through time, proving himself by conquering as many civilizations as he can encounter. Born in a peaceful utopia in the 31st century, Nathaniel Richards, relative of Fantastic Four leader Reed Richards, develops time-travel technology to test himself against warriors of a more barbaric age. First, he settles in Ancient Egypt, where he becomes Pharaoh Rama-Tut, and then defeats hordes in the 41st century, taking the name Kang the Conqueror. But as he expands his city, the Chronopolis, and fills it with the greatest fighters of all time, Kang creates further variations of himself. In some, he’s the evil genius Immortus. In others he’s the Avengers antagonist the Scarlet Centurion. A teenage version even took the name Iron Lad, to assemble the Young Avengers against his future self.
Confused? Well, that’s part of the fun of time travel stories and the multiversal variants they create, as seen in Loki, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. But if you’re looking to get a head start on the all the time-breaking, mind-bending, universe-hopping fun that Kang stories offer, here are some comics to check out.