Avengers: Endgame throws some pretty big twists into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and no doubt one of the biggest ones is time travel! Endgame makes the bold move of not just introducing the possibility of time travel into the MCU, but also chooses a unique approach to the process, in which changing the past doesn't have the usual cause-and-effect consequences that you see in most time travel movies.
Thanks to the climatic events of Avengers: Endgame, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has officially transformed into the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse, with new timelines now housing major MCU characters like Steve Rogers/Captain America and Loki. While a lot of Marvel fans are still trying to process the idea of the MCU having multiple timelines, others have criticized the move as a being a can of worms that didn't need to be opened.
However, longtime Marvel Comics readers know that playing with time and multiple timelines isn't just a random gimmick in the Marvel Universe. In fact, there's one villain whose domain is either managing or conquering time -- and the stage is now set for him to make his MCU debut!
Kang the Conqueror
Kang the Conqueror has been terrorizing the Avengers since the 1960s, and is one of the most enduring and popular villains the team faces. Kang is a warlord from the distant future (31st century) who has mastered travel between timelines and alternate realities, and uses an advanced suit of armor and futuristic tech to lead his army to different epochs, systematically conquering them. He eventually becomes fixated on the Avengers and other Marvel heroes, first trying to best them as a demonstration of his might, later using them as pawns in a cosmic game, and he even attempts to wed Mantis at one point in order to produce a prophesied child of great power.
The thing about Kang is that not only is he's not just a powerful foe of the Avengers: his time travel abilities and mastery of multiple realities make him one of their most complex and well-layered villains. Different versions of Kang from different times or realities come with vastly different personalities; younger and/or older versions of Kang have actually been powerful allies to the Avengers or played other significant roles in Marvel Universe history.
Which brings us to one crucial point: Kang is not just a singular villain, but rather a juicy multifaceted role for several actors to tackle...
Iron Immortus Tut
As Kang's origin has been slowly but surely fleshed out in Marvel Comics, three of the villain's alternate personas have become featured characters all their own: Immortus, Iron Lad and Rama-Tut.
Immortus is the older version of Kang, having grown out of his lust for battle and conquer. Evolving into more of a scholar than a soldier, Kang becomes Immortus and strikes a deal with the temporal beings called the Time-Keepers: he will become their agent, in exchange for immortality and control over time. The Time-Keepers accept, and Immortus is installed as master of Limbo, the dimension outside of time where he works to manipulate and preserve various timelines, rather than conquering or destroying them. In some of the most interesting Avengers story arcs Kang and Immortus actually battle one another; Kang hates what his older self becomes, as Immortus is wiser and more passive with his manipulation of time and events. Given what the Avengers just did in Endgame, messing with time travel and creating alternate timelines, Immortus would conceivably be a logical character to step in and begin exerting his temporal authority.
Iron Lad is the adolescent version of Kang who discovers that he will grow up to be The Conqueror. Horrified, he travels to the future and steals Kang's armor, arriving in our present to form the Young Avengers as a way to stop his older self. The horrible irony is that they succeed, but since Kang is such a pivotal figure in the flow of time, taking him out causes severe disruption, requiring Iron Lad to eventually accept his fate and become Kang the Conqueror anyway. With Avengers: Endgame planting several seeds for the Young Avengers to join the MCU in Phase 4, the "Kang vs. Iron Lad" arc is a definite possibility.
Rama-Tut is the Egyptian Pharaoh that Kang tried to be when first traveling back in time, before he ever took on his "Kang" persona. Rama-Tut's plan was to wait in Egypt for the rise of En Sabah Nur (aka X-Men's Apocalypse), to claim the power of the first mutant for himself. When he's eventually defeated by time-traveling Marvel heroes (more on that later), Rama-Tut returns to the 31st century and becomes Kang. Kang has, at times, returned to Egypt and his Rama-Tut persona, whenever conquer and battle have become stale passions. Rama-Tut is also the version of Kang that opens up a big door for another Marvel group to make their debut in the MCU...
Fantastic Four Connection
Behind all of his various personas, Kang is actually Nathaniel Richards, a 31st-century scholar who is seemingly descended from Reed Richards, aka Mister Fantastic! It is actually the Fantastic Four who initially defeat Rama-Tut in Egypt, inspiring him to become the Avengers' nemesis, Kang.
With the Fantastic Four now in Marvel Studios' hands, Kang would be the perfect MCU Phase 4 villain to both advance the multiverse plotlines started in Avengers: Endgame, as well as introduce new teams like the Young Avengers and Fantastic Four. With his various personas, Kang has far more depth than Thanos, and his origin is a mystery that could run through the MCU for years, before culminating in an event would be equally relevant to the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and X-Men. With all that on the table, Kang sounds like the pick for the next big MCU villain to us. How about you?
Avengers: Endgame and Captain Marvel are now in theaters. Spider-Man: Far From Home hits theaters on July 5th.
Have you subscribed to ComicBook Nation, the official Podcast of ComicBook.com yet? Check it out by clicking here or listen below.
In this latest episode, we explore Game of Thrones' long night, talk more Avengers: Endgame, live-action Sonic the Hedgehog, and more! Make sure to subscribe now and never miss an episode!