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[This story contains spoilers for Loki episode two.]
The end of this week’s second episode of the Disney+ series Loki appeared to offer the building blocks to two future Marvel Studios projects, with the apparent creation of the Multiverse setting up both Spider-Man: No Way Home and next year’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. But what if the six-part series is also setting up another future Marvel movie entirely — and doing so right in front of fans’ faces? In fact, what if the show is sneakily introducing the next big bad of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
We know villain Kang the Conquerer will appear in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumanium, with Lovecraft Country‘s Jonathan Majors taking on the role. But there are signs to Kang popping up, or at least being teased, in Loki.
Central to this theory is the Time Variance Authority, the organization that governs time at the heart Loki, and specifically, the highest singular authority that audiences have seen within the Authority, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Introduced in the show’s first episode, everything about the judge overseeing Loki’s case certainly seems straightforward — or, at least, as straightforward as everything else about the TVA. Beyond her position as arbiter of the timeline and the variants that attempt to subvert it, she is, it’s revealed, one of the few people inside of the TVA who have met the Time Keepers, the three figures who transformed a previous version of the multiverse into one coherent timeline.
That character’s name is Ravonna Renslayer, and that’s a name familiar to longtime Marvel fans, as well as one unlikely to have been chosen at random from the vast Marvel comics library. The comic book Ravonna first appeared way back in 1965’s Avengers No. 23, although she was far from the star of her own story back then — and that’s where Loki‘s potential for universe-building mischief comes into play.
For much of her comic career, you see, Ravonna was little more than the object of the affections of the fan-favorite villain Kang the Conqueror. Eventually, he won her over, and she sacrificed herself to save his life — only to be resurrected later and turn on Kang, upset that he wasn’t the one responsible for her revival. (At some point after her return, she went by the name “Terminatrix,” but it was the 1990s and we can forgive her for that.)
Obviously, the MCU Ravonna doesn’t have the same backstory as her comic book counterpart — she’s certainly not a 40th-century space princess, as the comic book Ravonna originally was — but at this point in proceedings, it’s worth a moment’s speculation about whether or not the two characters do share a relationship with Kang.
After all, there’s almost certainly some reason that the MCU character was given a name predominantly connected to the villain, beyond simply that Ravonna is a time-traveling character in Marvel mythology; the fact that she was given a name at all, never mind that name, feels worth noting. So… is there a Kang connection being laid into place, and if so, what could that connection be?
Coming up with a prospective answer to that question requires more than a little bit of speculation. One of the strange things about Kang’s comic book career is that Kang has multiple different villainous identities that he switches between, depending on the time period he exists in (and the interests of the comic book writer of each appearance, of course). In addition to Kang, he has also been the Scarlet Centurion, the Ancient Egyptian despot Rama-Tut, and Immortus — a version of Kang from the far future who rules a dimension called Limbo, and has an entirely different mission from his previous incarnations: he works for the Time Keepers, preserving the timeline from being altered by forces unknown.
An even more speculative suggestion: given the focus on variants in Loki to date, and the fact that Kang is, traditionally, a time-traveling character with comic book variant personas, what if Kang is the Time Keepers? That might be a step too far, of course.
Like Loki, Kang was created by the duo of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, but there’s another piece of comic book synchronicity when it comes to connecting Kang to the Loki series; the TVA was created by writer/artist Walter Simonson, who also created something called the Council of Cross-Time Kangs for a 1988 issue of Avengers. This was a collection of variant Kangs from alternate timelines that features, in its debut appearance, one that looks distinctly reptilian. A space lizard, in fact, as Loki has repeatedly described the Time Keepers.
Does this all sound a little too unlikely? It’s already known that Kang is set to appear in the MCU in the near future, but there’s nothing to say that his debut couldn’t happen a little earlier than expected. Kang’s whole schtick, after all, is that he’s a time-traveler.
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