Loki‘s season one finale marked the debut of a surprise Marvel Comics character, Kang, in the MCU. We expected Kang’s first appearance to come in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania as the franchise’s next Thanos-level threat, but we first got to know He Who Remains in Loki. Now that we’ve met Kang the Conqueror proper in the MCU, did he live up to his reputation? And what role will Kang’s other Variants play in the MCU’s future? Here are all the ways we know Loki connects to Quantumania, along with a few ways it might, and what all of this tells us about our many Kangs and the MCU’s future.
What Loki‘s He Who Remains Revealed About His Variants and Multiversal War
He Who Remains was a scientist from Earth’s 31st century who learned how to travel between parallel worlds. Many of his Variants from those infinite alternate dimensions did, too. Some of them initially worked together, sharing knowledge and technology. But others opted to attack and conquer. That resulted in a Multiversal War with each Variant “fighting to preserve their universe and annihilate the others.” The result of that battle between worlds was the near destruction of all realities everywhere, which we now know would have been the ultimate Incursion.
He Who Remains ultimately defeated all his other Variants by using a monster their very conflict caused. The Multiversal War created Alioth, a storm-like creature that could “consume time and space.” With his Variants bested, He Who Remains created the Sacred Timeline. It put all realities into an orderly circle. He then created the TVA to keep the Sacred Timeline intact. The group’s agents (unaware Variants themselves) pruned any Variant who created a branch that threatened the entire Sacred Timeline.
The Death of He Who Remains and the TVA’s New Leader
The TVA existed outside of time and space, as did the Void of Alioth and the Citadel of He Who Remains. For a thousand lifetimes, He Who Remains watched over his creation, keeping his countless Variants at bay within the closed circle of time. But he eventually grew tired and sought a replacement to maintain the Sacred Timeline. He Who Remains told Loki and Sylvie he wanted them for the job and that if they didn’t accept, the alternative was a much worse version of himself taking control of the TVA. That was if another Multiversal War didn’t destroy all of reality first.
Loki recognized the necessary evil of the TVA. But Sylvie thought it was nothing more than a form of control and took her revenge on He Who Remains, killing him. As he died, He Who Remains winked at her and said he would see her soon. He expected history to repeat itself, with him coming out on top once more. Instead, Loki returned to the TVA to find one of He Who Remains’ Variants had taken over. Loki saw a giant statue that looked a lot like Kang the Conqueror.
He also discovered Mobius and the others within the TVA had no memory of anything that had happened prior. Everything had changed in an instant (that might have lasted thousands of lifetimes).
Loki knew to fear more than just one Variant of He Who Remains, though. He tried to warn a confused, ignorant Mobius by syaing, “Someone is coming. Countless different versions of a very dangerous person. And they’re all set on war. We need to prepare.”
(Note: The only person besides Loki and Sylvie who seemingly will remember about He Who Remains is Ravonna Renslayer. She did not appear or factor into the events of Quantumania. But she is likely to play a major role in Loki season two and possibly beyond.)
The Sacred Timeline Fractures and Threatens a Mass Incursion
The Death of He Who Remains led to more than just a dangerous new head of the TVA. It also caused the Sacred Timeline to break apart. The neat order of realities that kept all of the MCU’s universes safe was last seen on Loki splintering into mayhem.
It’s unclear if the new TVA head (who we don’t know for certain is Kang the Conqueror) got it back under control. That scene came before Mobius’s mind wipe, when everything changed. But thanks to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, we know why He Who Remains worried about branching. When two realities collide, it can cause an incursion, which results in the complete destruction of one or both universes. Trillions of innocent beings can die because of travel between the multiverse. Trillions of innocent beings can also die because someone killed them and their universe.
Kang the Conqueror’s Past and Banishment to the Quantum Realm in Quantumania
There is so much we don’t know about Kang the Conqueror/Exile after seeing Quantumania, but the film still revealed a lot about his past. Kang’s fellow MCU Variants (or at minimum, He Who Remains) banished the Conquerer to the Quantum Realm “outside space and time” because it was “the only place that could hold him.” Once he got his suit and technology back, we saw why they wanted to be free of him.
Kang, once he got back his suit and technology, eventually took over the Quantum Realm. (Which seems to be the same dimension He Who Remains ruled from). There he reigned from his own Citadel. It wasn’t his first time installing himself as a ruthless dictator. He had plenty of experience from conquering countless worlds and destroying entire universes. This “The Conqueror” version of Kang seemed to be the single most dangerous of his many dangerous MCU Variants, the one all the others feared the most. And when they couldn’t kill him, they locked him away for eternity.
But the movie also suggested Kang’s path of destruction was not merely a quest for power. Quantumania raised the idea his reign came as a response to an attack on his own universe The Exile, who couldn’t hide his sadness, was likely the most dangerous Kang, but he might not have been the one to draw first blood or cause the first Incursion. Exile Kang said he would get his revenge on his Variants for “everything” they had done to him. This Quantumania Kang also seemed determined to organize the chaos of reality into a neat, protective circle, the same as Loki‘s He Who Remains did. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania‘s first mid-credits scene showed not all of his Variants cared to do that much to protecting all worlds.
The Council of Kangs’ Reaction to the Exile’s “Death”
The Exile is dead. At least, that’s what the Council of Kangs believes. (Scott Lang has very valid doubts about that.) Instead of rejoicing over the death of their most dangerous Variant, though, the Council of Kangs is preparing for an MCU war, just as Loki feared.
But this time, they aren’t preparing for war with one another. They are preparing for war against the Avengers, who are beginning to “touch” the multiverse. Multiversal travel from others “threatens” everything the Council built.
What exactly the Council of Kangs has built in the MCU is not yet known. All we know is that they seemed to meet in an arena outside of time and space in a place that overlooks a chaotic meeting of realities. The strands of universes they apparently control in Quantumania are the antithesis of the Sacred Timeline we saw in Loki.
But if the Exile is alive, and if he currently controls the TVA, when did that scene with the Council take place? What are they protecting? Also, will they inadvertently make it easier for the Exile Kang to conquer them if they’re distracted or weakened by war with the MCU’s Avengers? And what does any of that have to do with Victor Timely?
Loki and Mobius Find the Kang Variant Victor Timely in Quantumania Credits
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania‘s second post-credits scene introduced another famous Kang Variant to the MCU, Victor Timely. We broke down what that scene means and what we know about Victor Timely from Marvel Comics. But what might be most important is who Loki thinks this Quantumania credits character is: the new head of the TVA.
If Loki Odinson is right and the Victor Timely Kang is the new head of the TVA, then we need to know why he’s living in the early 20th century and showing off his technological advancements. And if we’re also right that Loki season one ended with Kang the Conqueror in charge, that means Victor Timely is the Exile who survived Quantumania.
And all of that means when we finally see Loki season two, we’re going to have to add even more connections between the Quantumania and the show. Don’t worry; we’ll have the time and space to do that… That is unless a Kang or two travels back in time to stop us. You really never know where, or more importantly, when, one of them will pop up.
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike, and also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.