After over twenty films and three TV series, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has seen its conflicts escalate from minor battles between heroes and villains, up to massive wars over the fate of the universe. In the final battle of Avengers: Endgame, the Avengers and all of their allies fought a climactic duel against Thanos, the Mad Titan, and prevented him from obliterating the known universe with the power of the Infinity Stones.
The first two Disney Plus series, Wandavasion, and Falcon and the Winter Soldier, saw Marvel exploring some smaller corners of its sprawling cinematic universe. However, the third series, Loki, has pushed the stakes higher than ever. Major spoilers for the season finale of Loki follow after the break.
At the end of their dramatic journey, Loki and Sylvie finally found the man behind the curtain of the Time Variance Authority. He Who Remains, as the show identifies him, is a variant of the comics character Kang the Conqueror. Played by Jonathan Majors, who will portray Kang in the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp sequel, He Who Remains claims that his countless variants threaten the peace of the entire multiverse.
He Who Remains, a character comics fans might know as Immortus, tells the two Loki variants that the world has been kept in peace because of his own tireless efforts to prevent any alternate timelines from branching off of the “Sacred Timeline”. If such a branch should occur, Immortus warns, one of his own variants could attempt to restart the war for the Multiverse.
Avengers fans know Kang as the time-traveling conqueror from the 31st Century who regularly terrorizes Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Seeing his benevolent variant, Immortus, tells longtime Marvel fans that something big is coming down the line.
The MCU’s Phase 4 seems to be setting up Kang as a major antagonist for the future of the sprawling franchise. With seemingly infinite variants of Kang now loose in the multiverse, all of them capable of time travel and mass destruction, our heroes will surely have their work cut out for them in the battles to come.
The final shot of the first season of Loki even shows that the damage has already been done: after Sylvie fulfills her promise of toppling the TVA’s leader by plunging her dagger into Immortus, our Loki variant finds himself back in the TVA. But it’s not one he recognizes: his friend Mobius has no idea who he is, and the statues of the Time Keepers have been replaced by a towering statue of Kang the Conqueror. Suddenly, the TVA’s motto of “For All Time, Always” takes on a much more menacing tone.