Jonathan Majors stole the show as Kang the Conqueror in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Just as he stole the show with his cameo as “He Who Remains” at the end of Loki season one. But the post-credits scene in the third Ant-Man might have tipped us off to a big secret. The time-traveling, universe-erasing Kang might be partially responsible for one of Marvel’s very first superheroes: the Human Torch. And as a matter of fact, we’ve seen the Human Torch in the MCU already. Kind of.
And no, not the Human Torch from the Fantastic Four. We know those old Fantastic Four movies are not MCU canon. There was a Human Torch who preceded Johnny Storm in the comics, over two decades earlier. This Quantumania post-credits scene helps explain this MCU Easter egg that is now 12 years old and that has had fans waiting years for Marvel Studios to pay off.
The post-credits scene from Quantumania shows Loki and former TVA agent Mobius, probably in a scene from Loki season two, in a turn of the 20th-century sideshow where a man named Victor Timely takes to the stage. Timely (an ode to Marvel Comics’ original name) is of course a variant of Kang also played by Jonathan Majors. Loki seems terrified, as well he should be. But Kang’s malevolence is neither here nor there. What’s important is this Kang variant’s name, as well as what time period he’s in.
Victor Timely, the “Forgotten” Kang Variant
In 1992, readers learned that a Doctor Phineas T. Horton studied under Victor Timely. Horton was the genius inventor of the original Human Torch, Marvel’s first superhero ( along with Namor the Sub-Mariner). Yes, the original Human Torch wasn’t exactly human at all, but a sentient android. Back in 1939, young comic readers didn’t question how a scientist could invent such a miraculous creation. Computers didn’t even exist. But years later, readers began to question how someone with 1930s tech could create something light years ahead of his time.
It was writer Peter Sanderson, along with artists Rich Yanizeski and Fred Fredericks, who answered that question back in Avengers Annual #21. He explained how Kang had traveled back in time, settled in the 20th Century, and assumed the name Victor Timely. He created the small town of Timely, Wisconsin, in the year 1901. There, he spent decades plotting to take control of the new century, all while disguised as the town Mayor. He’d introduce technology far too advanced for the era to select individuals who worked for him at Timely, Inc, who in turn produced miraculous machines. In 1929, he met Dr. Horton. It’s unclear exactly how much Timely showed him of future tech. But it must have been quite a lot, because what Horton created was, dare we say, a true marvel.
Kang’s Interference Led to One of Marvel’s Original Heroes
Debuting in Marvel Comics #1 in 1939, the Human Torch was described as “a synthetic man.” Although androids had existed in sci-fi stories already, the Human Torch was different. He wasn’t just a robot that looked like a man, he was made of synthetic flesh and blood. The best comparisons would be the replicants in Blade Runner or the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica.
When Horton revealed his creation to the world during a press conference, his skin lit on fire upon contact with air, terrifying the audience. Declared a monster, the people sealed Horton in concrete. But he escaped and learned to control his flame. He took the name Jim Hammond and became a police officer, and superhero on the side. He fought against the Nazis with Captain America and Namor, as part of the team called the Invaders. In fact, in the comics, he was the one who killed Adolf Hitler with his bare hands. We don’t usually condone cold-blooded murder, but in this case, we make an exception.
Doctor Horton created the Torch with synthetic replicas of human cells using plastic and carbon polymers. These cells duplicated the structures found in organic human cells. This is something he learned about from Victor Timely, a.k.a. Kang, centuries before he should have. In essence, Kang’s interference in the timeline led to the Marvel heroic age as we know it. And the Human Torch’s importance would extend further. Kang’s other variant, Immortus, would duplicate the Torch into a divergent timeline, a version whose body served as the basis for the Vision.
The Captain America: The First Avenger Connection
So how on Earth does this tie into the MCU? Well, in Captain America: The First Avenger, we prominently saw a large display containing a human figure in a glass case at the Stark Expo. Above the case, it says “Dr. Phineas Horton presents the Synthetic Man.” That’s definitely the Human Torch, in his red costume and everything. We’re meant to assume that after Steve Rogers and Bucky left the Expo, events similar to those that happened in the comics took place. That would mean that, at some point in the MCU, a heroic Human Torch fought crime and burned Nazis. And the appearance of Victor Timely in Quantumania now connects the dots on how such a being could exist in 1942—especially without access to something like the Tesseract.
Marvel Studios has never shown us the adventures of the original Human Torch. This despite letting us know he existed since way back in 2011. But with the arrival of Victor Timely into the MCU, the dots are connecting to that Easter egg from years ago. He might not need a movie or a series of his own. But at some point, we’d love to see the Human Torch take flight. Maybe in an unseen adventure with Steve Rogers and Namor in WWII? Perhaps in an episode of an upcoming season of Loki? Thanks to Quantumania, we now know how and why he existed at all. Now, let us see him fight some bad guys too.
Featured Image: Marvel Studios