This story contains spoilers for Episode 6 of "Loki" on Disney+.
Parting is such sweet sorrow — but at least we know Loki will be back for another season.
The sixth episode of Marvel Studios’ time adventure was packed with revelations, including a mid-credits tag announcing “Loki” Season 2.
It’s been a long journey for our two favorite Loki variants. Picking up where Episode 5 left off, the finale — titled “For All Times. Always.” — sees Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) make their way toward a mysterious manor beyond the edge of time.
Awaiting them at the Citadel at the End of Time? The man who has been pulling the strings behind the Time Keepers and Time Variance Authority all along, referred to as “He Who Remains” by Miss Minutes and even in the credits.
Portrayed by Emmy-nominated “Lovecraft Country” actor Jonathan Majors, He Who Remains appears to be a version of a certain Marvel villain the series has been teasing all along — Kang the Conqueror. Here’s his backstory and what his appearance could mean for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Who is He Who Remains?
“I’ve been dubbed many names by many people,” the mysterious villain tells Sylvie when she asks for his identity. “A ruler. A conqueror. He Who Remains. A jerk … But it’s not as simple as a name.”
In the episode, He Who Remains is introduced as the all-knowing being who has been making sure no other timelines branched from his Sacred Timeline.
Before he was He Who Remains, he explains, he was a scientist who lived on Earth in the 31st century — or at least one of his variants was. This 31st century scientist not only discovered the multiverse, he also figured out a way to get into contact with versions of himself from various timelines who made the same scientific discovery.
Unfortunately, not all of He Who Remains’ variants were “pure of heart.” Some saw these new worlds across the multiverse as new lands to be conquered. This led to a multiversal war, much like the one described in the TVA’s introductory video.
He Who Remains was the one variant who survived, and his mission seems to be to keep it that way.
Piecing together clues left over the course of the series — such as the presence Ravonna Renslayer, his association with Alioth and a home base that exists outside of time — it’s pretty clear that He Who Remains is a version of Kang the Conqueror. Especially considering the design of the statue Loki sees at the end of the episode, which resembles a look worn by Kang in the comics.
The version of Kang that He Who Remains seems to most resemble? Immortus.
Who is Kang the Conqueror?
Introduced in the pages of “Avengers” Vol. 1 No. 8 (by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby) in the ‘60s, Kang is a time-traveling supervillain with his sights set on taking over all of time and space.
Similar to “Loki’s” He Who Remains, comic book Kang was originally a scientist from the 31st century named Nathaniel Richards, who encountered time-travel technology that gave him the ability to head anywhere in time.
Kang uses his technology to travel all around the multiverse, generally in order to manipulate events in a way that will better his own future.
Different versions of Kang have appeared in the comics over the years, at times even appearing together as allies. At least two versions — including Immortus and Iron Lad — have tried to stop their more villainous counterpart’s plans.
Without getting into all the complex schemes the time-traveling, multiverse-hopping villain has cooked up, one thing he is known for is his love for/obsession with 41st century princess Ravonna Renslayer.
Comic book Kang has most frequently gone up against the Avengers, but he also has ties to another superhero team: the Fantastic Four. Last year, Marvel Studios announced that a Fantastic Four movie is on the way.
Can you get back to Immortus?
Yes. Immortus is a future version of Kang who also made his first comics appearance in an issue of “Avengers” in the ‘60s.
After a long life of various schemes and battles as Kang, he was approached by the Time Keepers with an offer of immortality in exchange for working for them to preserve timelines as they see fit. Sound familiar?
What about Iron Lad?
Iron Lad is a younger version of Nathaniel Richards, the scientist who is destined to become Kang. After learning about his future self, he travels back from the 31st century to 21st century Earth hoping the Avengers can help him stop this future from happening.
Unfortunately for young Nathaniel, he arrives at a time when the Avengers are disbanded, so he shifts his plan: He assembles a group of teens into a Young Avengers team.
A number of characters who have been a part of the Young Avengers in the comics have already been introduced to the MCU, including “Ant-Man’s” Cassie Lang, “WandaVision” twins Billy and Tommy Maximoff, as well as “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s” Eli Bradley. Other Young Avengers-affiliated characters slated to appear in include Kate Bishop (“Hawkeye”) and America Chavez (“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”).
What does this mean for the MCU?
Majors has already been announced as part of the cast of Marvel’s upcoming film “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” Although the studio had not yet officially announced his role, it has long been reported that Majors will be playing Kang the Conqueror.
After the events of “Loki,” it seems even more likely that Majors will be playing Kang — or at least a Kang variant — in the upcoming film. Either way, it seems things are about to get much more complicated within the Marvel cinematic multiverse.
The repercussions of Sylvie and Loki freeing the timeline will likely be addressed sooner, in films including next year’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which is slated for a December release.
And “Loki” Season 2?
The “Loki” finale left a number of loose ends for the show to revisit next season, including the reveal that Loki has landed in a version of the TVA headed by someone who resembles Kang.
Can Loki regain Mobius and Hunter B-15’s trust? What’s this new TVA’s mission? What information did Miss Minutes give Ravonna? Where did Ravonna go? What happened to Sylvie after her showdown with He Who Remains?
No other details about "Loki" Season 2 have been announced, so only time or a TemPad will tell.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.