How Loki Is Secretly Introducing The MCU's Next Big Villain

Marvel's Loki Disney+ series may be all about Tom Hiddleston's Asgardian God of Mischief (in all his troublesome variations), but it's also proving to be a game-changing re-framing cosmic power hierarchy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The reveal of the Time Variance Authority and its masters the Time-Keepers has made the Infinity Stones seem like pathetic trinkets (literally), the battle that the TVA fights to protect the Sacred Timeline has already proven to have dire ramifications for the entire MCU. However, true to its titular character Loki may be pulling some tricks on Marvel fans, as it quietly establishes the next big villain for Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Kang The Conqueror.

Warning: Loki episodes 1-2 SPOILERS Follow!

One of the most popular Marvel fan theories that we've examined is that the central premise of the TVA is inherently false: the Time-Keepers are not real. The first two episodes of Loki seem to project some major Wizard of Oz vibes when it comes to the structure and format of the TVA. Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) being the only one who gets to see the proverbial "Man Behind The Curtain" seems a little too convenient - especially when you know Ravonna's Marvel Comics history.

In the comics, Ravonna is the object of Kang the Conqueror's affection; different multiverse variations of her have either allied with Kang or tried to kill him - depending on how the romance goes. It's not a hard jump to think that the dutiful bureaucrat version of Ravonna in the MCU is hiding a wild side - and maybe a bad boy lover in the form of Kang.

Based on what Loki is already established about the history of the TVA, there's even more reason to believe that Kang The Conqueror is the real "Time-Keeper" running the TVA. We know the TVA was established by the Time-Keepers after a major war between different realities of the multiverse, in order to maintain the flow of one, single, Sacred Timeline. What we haven't heard is who the multiverse war was fought between - and who actually won. Even more importantly, we don't know what it is, exactly, about the Sacred Timeline that the Time-Keepers are trying to preserve.

If Kang won the multiverse war, the one thing the time-hopping warlord from the future would want to preserve is his own creation, transformation into Kang, and dominance over the multiverse. Kang's Marvel Comics history is tied to him being the (possible) descendent of some of Marvel's biggest heroes (The Fantastic Four), and his legacy of influence over various timelines is tied to everything from some of the Avengers' biggest developments, to the rise of the first mutant (Apocalypse), to the formation of the Young Avengers.

How Loki Setting Up MCU Phase 4 Big Bad Villain Kang

Some of Kang's biggest conflicts have similarly been with his own variant selves, who rise up to take on their own personas such as Immortus (Kang's future self who is assigned by the Time-Keepers to monitor time) and Iron Lad, the young version of Kang who forms the Young Avengers to fight his older self. Immortus is an especially interesting case, as the older version of Kang could also be revealed as the real Time-Keeper behind the TVA, trying to protect the Sacred Timeline from any and all variations that lead to Kang.

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With these Loki variants having broken the Sacred Timeline into new multiverse of alternate timelines, the road is now paved to lead straight to Kang, one way or another. Don't be surprised if Kang (or his variant) shows up as the real power behind the TVA - or the fractures in the Sacred Timeline now make his conquest of the MCU possible.

Loki streams new episodes Wendesdays on Disney+. Kang will officially make his debut in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.