Who is Kang the Conqueror? What to know about the Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania villain
Say hello to Marvel's new big bad.
Kang. Is. Here!
Since Loki season 1, the threat of a multiversal war with the evil variants of He Who Remains has haunted the MCU, patiently waiting to be paid off. That time has arrived, as Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the first movie of MCU Phase 5, unleashes the big bad himself: Kang the Conqueror.
As revealed by Kevin Feige at San Diego Comic-Con 2022, Quantumania is the first step toward an overarching storyline that features Kang as the franchise's latest major villain, and will pay off in the next highly anticipated Avengers installments; Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars.
But who is Kang the Conqueror? What is his deal? Where and when did he first emerge? And how is Jonathan Majors this jacked?
Here's a breakdown of everything you need to know about Kang the Conqueror.
Who is Kang the Conqueror?
Kang the Conqueror, aka Nathaniel Richards, was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in Fantastic Four #19 in 1963, making his triumphant debut as a time displaced descendent of Reed Richards (aka Mr. Fantastic) and a criminal from the year 3000. However for his first two appearances, he wasn't called Kang. He called himself Rama-Tut and used his future technology to make himself a Pharaoh and conquer ancient Egypt. Fortunately, he is defeated by the Fantastic Four.
Shortly thereafter, he tries to return to his time, but ends up getting lost further into the future to the 40th century, to find an apocalyptic world with powerful technology, that allows him to conquer what's left of the dying planet, rebranding himself as "Kang the Conqueror." Unsatisfied ruling over a dying world, he decides to use the technology to travel to modern times to try and conquer 20th century Earth, which forces him to come to blows with Earth's mightiest heroes, The Avengers (in Avengers #8 from 1964).
Kang would go on to become one of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four's biggest foes, doing battle with them throughout the decades, even almost succeeding in his conquest of Earth in the storyline, "The Kang Dynasty."
What are Kang the Conqueror's powers?
There is nothing extraordinary about Kang the Conqueror other than his mind. A master physicist with a proclivity for time travel and all of the knowledge of history readily available in his mind who is also pretty good at building stuff. Any super strength he possesses is solely powered by his enhanced armor (created himself), but he does benefit from increased resistance to radiation due to his time in the future.
It's worth noting that the aforementioned suit is also capable of hologram tech, forcefields and keeping him alive for a month if lost in uninhabitable lands. And, at one point, he possessed a will-sucking ray gun.
Who plays Kang the Conqueror?
Actor Jonathan Majors is taking on the role of Kang. As mentioned above, audiences got their first glimpse of Majors as a variant of Kang in the Loki season 1 finale. Majors once again is stepping into the role of a different, more sinister variant of the character than the one we saw in the Disney Plus series, with a look that skews closer to the famous green and purple suit in the comics.
Majors exploded into the scene with acclaimed lead performances in The Last Black Man in San Francisco and the lead role in HBO's Lovecraft Country. He has proven himself to be a tremendously charismatic and versatile actor, starring in films like Devotion, Da 5 Bloods, The Harder They Fall and 2023's Creed III, alongside fellow MCU baddie Michael B. Jordan, and Magazine Dreams.
Is Kang worse than Thanos?
It depends on which version of Kang we're talking about. While Loki's He Who Remains may have seemed like an impish douchebag, we're getting our second iteration of The Conqueror on screen, and he does not look as friendly or accommodating. With He Who Remains teasing his variants are much worse, there's a sense that the other versions we meet may make the first guy look like a bunny rabbit.
Furthermore, with Loki and Sylvie causing the Multiverse to essentially explode and expand, who knows how many versions of Kang are out there and how many are as nefarious about conquering planets as their comic book counterpart. Welcome to The Multiverse Saga.
In contrast, there was only one of Thanos (at least pre-Multiverse Saga).
In the comics there were several versions of Kang: Immortus, Kang Prime, Iron Lad, Victor Timely, Mr. Gryphon, The Scarlet Centurion. The list goes on. While Kang is actually a human, with his terrifying future tech even a single one of him could be a massive threat to the Avengers, let alone several.
Additionally, Thanos didn't have the same knowledge of the future Kang has, which would give Kang the bigger advantage over a villain like The Mad Titan. But combine that with the genius level intellect of his descendant Reed Richards and the presence of technology that no one else in the universe in the present would have, and you have one of the Avengers' greatest threats looming upon the MCU.
Does Kang have any weaknesses?
In a way, Kang has a soft spot for one individual in particular: Ravonna Renslayer. Played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Loki season 1, Renslayer has always been a major part of Kang's story, being his one true love.
While on the show, she's the head of the Time Variance Authority (TVA), in the comics she was a princess whom Kang fell in love with. In an attempt to impress her, he kidnaps the Avengers as a show of power (talk about compensating for something). However he eventually frees them when her life is threatened, so they can help him save her. However she's mortally injured before they can and he has to put her into stasis until he can find a way to heal her and save her from the brink of death. An interesting adaptation of this was animated into the Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes series back in 2011.
How will Quantumania's introduction of Kang lead into Avengers: The Kang Dynasty?
It's hard to say what versions of Kang the MCU has in store for the fans. But his introduction in Quantumania will absolutely not be the last we see of the character. The best assumption many have is that the genie will be officially out of the bottle, so to speak, and Kang will be looking to bring our heroes to their knees.
For more about Kang the Conqueror, check out this featurette here:
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Mike is a proud, sarcastic nerd with a penchant for comic books, comic book movies, and movies in general, and occasional delusions of grandeur. He's also a UC Berkeley graduate who decided to go into writing over pre-med because he figured he'd ultimately save more lives by not being a doctor. He's a Slytherin and a Pisces, so he's very emotionally sensitive, yet also evil, but can be defeated by exploiting his insecurities. His goal is to live one hell of a unique life, and it's been working so far! His proudest moments are being retweeted by James Gunn and Ryan Reynolds in the same week, and getting 999,999 points on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters at Disneyland.
You can find Mike's writing around the web at publications like The Nerds of Color, What to Watch, Spoiler Free Reviews, and That's It LA.