Kang the Conqueror: The MCU’s Next Big Bad

Let’s Do the Time Warp Again!

Kang:Story is not written, scholar, and neither is destiny! History is made! Made by the deeds of the strong! The brave! And destiny is forged! The historians, the students, the gray-beards… they come in the wake of the strong and write down what the brave have done! But it is the conquerors who change the world!

Avengers: Forever

A man walks through a museum. Artifacts of all kinds surround him. He examines a Soviet officer’s cap and can smell the mingled scents of blood and snow. A khopesh wielded by ancient Egypt’s mightiest warrior still reflects the desert’s sun. A 41st century spear reminds the man of its owner and the callow youth’s last defiant charge.

Exiting his trophy room, he passes barracks where his soldiers train with weapons from every era. He observes as a temporal probe returns, showing images of another era’s great champions. A man in crude, but bleeding edge armor. A man out of time with a star-spangled shield. A woman whose visible aura radiates power . Kang grins. This shall be his finest conquest. 

Kang the Conqueror is one of the Avengers’ greatest foes. He’s conquered Earth in several timelines and aims to make the 21st century the next feather in his cap. So who is he? Why did he become a conqueror? How can he top the threat of Thanos and The Infinity Gauntlet? Let’s find out.

What’s Past is Prologue: Kang the Conqueror’s Backstory

Kang:Though my own century fears me as the most ruthless conqueror of all time, my triumph is a hollow one so long as the twentieth century escapes my tyranny!

Avengers #23

Kang the Conqueror was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. He debuted in Avengers #8 in 1964. Or was it Fantastic Four #19 in 1963? Perhaps it was Young Avengers #1 in 2005? The answer is yes. You’ll soon learn that keeping Kang’s timeline straight is harder than quantum mechanics. Still, let’s try.

The Avengers received a distress call about an alien invasion. After battling through an army wielding futuristic and archaic weapons, they encountered the leader: Kang. He revealed that he had conquered Earth in several future eras and traveled back in time to make the 21st century his next trophy.

Kang’s futuristic armor and arsenal were too much for The Avengers, and they were captured. The Wasp sabotaged his armor and Kang was forced to flee back to his time. He swore revenge, excited by the heroes being able to challenge him.

Kang once conquered the world during The Kang Dynasty. He took control of an army of Mutant-hunting Sentinels and hammered Earth until The Avengers, representing the United Nations, surrendered. The Avengers eventually freed the world by recruiting armies from several superpowered races while outwitting Kang until Captain America defeated him in single combat.

Council of Cross-Time Kangs: The Court of the Azure King

Immortus:You came to kill the devil, right? Well, guess what? I keep you all safe! And If you think I’m bad… Well, just wait until you meet my Variants.

Loki “For All Time, Always” (Season 1, Episode 6)

The biggest problem with understanding Kang’s story is that it was never linear. Decades can pass between his appearances with only one minute passing for other characters. Alternate versions from different timelines that may or may not be the same Kang frequently appear.

Kang the Conqueror has used many personas over the years, with many of them becoming their own separate characters. All of his variants hate each other and will do whatever they can to undermine each other. Even worse, they often masquerade as each other for false flag operations. We’ll cover his most common guises as close to chronological order as we can.

Iron Lad: New World Man

Iron Lad:Kate, if you found out you were going to become… Adolf Hitler, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to make sure it never happens?

Young Avengers #4

The 31st century was a peaceful utopia, but for young Nathaniel Richards, it was a boring hell. He idolized the Age of Heroes, especially after learning that he was descended from two of its greatest figures: Reed Richards and Doctor Doom.

Nate’s story began when bullies attacked him with a knife. A soldier in odd attire saved him. This soldier was Kang the Conqueror, Nathaniel’s future self.

Kang had come back in time to start his trans-temporal empire early. Nathaniel was horrified by what he saw and fled to the Age of Heroes to find help. The Avengers had disbanded, so he formed the Young Avengers for protection. He recruited Patriot, Wiccan, and Hulkling while disguising himself as Iron Lad.

The Young Avengers quickly learned Iron Lad’s secret, but agreed to help him. Their roster expanded to include Kate Bishop, Speed, and Stature, the last of whom Nathaniel fell in love with. 

During a mission, Stature was killed by Dr. Doom. Iron Lad wanted to use his time machine to save her, but the Young Avengers stopped him because a paradox would damage the timeline. Nathaniel went mad and began changing history, taking his first steps to becoming Kang, just as his future self had planned.

Rama-Tut: Rule Like an Egyptian

Rama-Tut:Though you come from the distant future, I know all about you! And I also know that your super-powers are no match for mine!

Fantastic Four #19

Before he was Kang, Nathaniel traveled to ancient Egypt and used advanced technology to conquer the empire. He became a pharaoh and dubbed himself Rama-Tut. The new tyrant fought many rebels, including his protégé Apocalypse and Moon Knight, but made a mistake by challenging the Fantastic Four.

Rama-Tut lured them to Ancient Egypt with hieroglyphics claiming that there was a mystic cure for their friend’s blindness. He used a futuristic weapon to turn the Four into his slaves, but The Thing broke free and rescued the others. They overthrew Rama-Tut, who fled to the future. This incarnation has rarely been seen afterwards because Kang believes playing pharaoh made him weak.

The Scarlet Centurion: Dancin’ in the Ruins

Scarlet Centurion:Bah! You take all the pleasure out of conquest. Very well, I shall call back my legions. I’d rather not take over a world that’s a ruin anyways.

Squadron Supreme #2

Rama-Tut planned to return to the 31st century, but overshot and landed in the post-apocalyptic 41st. He discovered that barbarian clans were warring with each other. Sensing a chance for a new start, Nathaniel abandoned the Rama-Tut identity and became The Scarlet Centurion.

Scarlet Centurion created an army and conquered most of the 41st century. As he approached the last stronghold, he met a warrior princess named Ravonna Renslayer. Her skill and cunning impressed Nathaniel, who again fell in love. Nathaniel permitted her father to keep his land and began courting Ravonna. Unfortunately, the lovers are star-crossed, with many incarnations of Ravonna hating Kang and trying to usurp him, or tragically dying. Picture Game of Thrones with temporal duplicates.

Immortus: If I Could Turn Back Time

Loki: “What are you so scared of?”
Immortus: “Me.”
Sylvie: “And just who are you?”
Immortus: “Oh, I’ve been dubbed many names by many people. A ruler. A conqueror. He Who Remains. A jerk. But it’s… it’s not as simple as a name.”

Loki “For All Time, Always” (Season 1, Episode 6)

Our final version of Kang the Conqueror is also chronologically the last. After decades of conquest, Kang retired. He planned to live the rest of his life in Limbo, but was approached by temporal guardians called The Time Keepers. As atonement for his crimes, they recruited him to serve as their agent and repair the time stream. On the bright side, they made him immortal and he’ll be freed in 80 million years.

Nathaniel dropped the name Kang and became Immortus. His main job is to prevent temporal paradoxes and to eliminate badly damaged timelines. This brings him into conflict with Kang, who despises his tamed future self for undoing his work. Immortus also manipulates heroes and villains to make his job easier.

Time Stand Still: Kang the Conqueror’s Powers and Personality

Kang:That is why I consider you Avengers worthy foes. You neither flee nor surrender, whatever the odds. Like myself, you know that combat means something, and honor more!

Avengers: Forever

Kang has lived a long life and learned every skill worth knowing. He’s an expert tactician, statesman, general, soldier, and assassin. His armor boasts energy rays, missile launchers, force fields, and other futuristic tech. An integrated time machine allows him to summon even more weaponry.

The ability to time travel is Kang’s greatest weapon. He can go to any time period to train, research his foes, set up traps, or recruit new armies. It would be all too easy to kill his enemies as children or leave a fight and return rested a split second later, and he believes that there would be no honor in such victories.

Kang the Conqueor is arrogant, misogynistic, and not above rape to eugenically create perfect heirs. His code is twisted and rigid. Kang will not abuse time travel for easy victories, shows respect if foes impress him, and is not afraid to fight someone on their level.

The Actors Who Play Kang the Conqueror

Mike Road – Fantastic Four (1967)
Ken Kramer – The Avengers: United They Stand
Jonathan Adams – Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
Steve Blum – Avengers Assemble, Marvel Future Avengers
Jonathan Majors – Loki, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, More

Didya Get All That?

An Avenger villain who could win at any time.

Image: Jonathan Majors as Kang The Conqueror in Marvel Studios’ ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 MARVEL.

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