FULL SPOILERS AHEAD
Starting this post off with a little PSA: We live in the age of immediate spoilers, and whether you like it or not, we sort of have to adjust to that. Back when Marvel Comics killed off Captain America, they infamously told news outlets before comic stores even opened to sell that particular comic. But don’t actively tag people in spoilers before you know that they’ve seen the media in question. As you can probably tell, I went into the season finale of Loki‘s first season knowing that my theory from episode 5 was wrong. So let’s see how things shaped up in the last episode of Loki… or is it? Let’s dive into “For All Time. Always.”
Picking right up where the previous episode left off, Loki and Sylvie enter the castle at the End of Time. A holographic projection of Miss Minutes appears and offers the pair a chance to live out their lives together in peace if they leave the man behind the curtain alone, but they refuse. The duo then encounter He Who Remains (Mr. Jonathan Majors), the man who goes by a different name in comics (more on that later, naturally). He’s the one who created the TVA and has a fairly decent reason why: somewhere in the 31st century, a variant of his discovered the multiverse along with a near infinite number of himself. What started out peaceful turned into a multiversal war of supremacy, leading He Who Remains to separate his universe–the Marvel Cinematic Universe–from the rest of the multiverse, creating the Sacred Timeline. The TVA was created to stop any branching timelines that could connect this reality back to the multiverse, drawing the attention of his others. Loki and Sylvie are then given two options: kill HWR and open their universe to the multiverse and potential doom, or work with him as the new heads of the TVA. While this is happening, Mobius meets up with Ravonna, who escapes to destinations/times unknown. And Hunter B-15 leads the TVA agents chasing her to meet a Ravonna from before she became a variant and joined the TVA, thereby revealing that yes, they’re all variants. Back with Loki and Sylvie, the two have a fight over what to do–Loki believes HWR’s apocalyptic vision, but Sylvie thinks it’s just another lie. Sylvie can’t trust Loki, and Loki can’t be trusted, which breaks both their hearts. They kiss (not a fan of that), and she pushes Loki through a tempad portal back to the TVA then kills He Who Remains. It doesn’t appear that all her problems were solved, as is usually the case with revenge. As the timeline branches to a degree that the TVA can’t stop it, Loki encounters Mobius and Hunter B-15 and tries to explain what happened. However, they don’t recognize him at all, which may have something to do with the Time-Keepers’ statues replaced with one featuring He Who Remains. The season ends with a promise that Loki will return in season 2, making this the first Disney+ MCU show to have a confirmed continuation instead of the heavily implied “this plot thread will continue in X movie” that WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier had.
So it wasn’t a future Ravonna/Terminatrix at the End of Time, but actually someone new: He Who Remains. I was wrong in my speculation, as people have let me know multiple times before I even got a chance to watch this episode. But comic fans known him by a different name: Kang the Conqueror. Or Immortus. Or Rama-Tut. Or Iron Lad. Do you see why I really didn’t want it to be Kang so I wouldn’t have to try to untangle his ridiculous backstory? But here we are, with the Kang of our reality apparently dead, suggesting the Kang in the forthcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania being a conquering Kang from another timeline.
Kang’s history is a god damned mess, intersecting itself numerous times so that trying to explain it is a pain in my ass. I may get information wrong, because sometimes Kang’s actions are actually done by a divergent Kang, but I don’t have the patience to untangle it that much. Anyway, Kang first appeared in Avengers #8 (1964); but oh no, it’s not that simple. Born in the 31st century, a 16-year-old Nathanial Richards–yes, he may be the descendant of Reed Richards, AKA Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four–encountered a future incarnation of himself who attempted to kick off his conquering early, but instead made the young boy rebel, taking the name Iron Lad and founding the Young Avengers, first seen in Young Avengers #1 (2012). He fell in love with Stature, AKA Cassie Lang (Ant-Man’s daughter), but her death in Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #8 (2011) drove him to villainy, adopting the name Kid Immortus in FF #7 (2013). Nathanial eventually returned to his own time and stayed there long enough to grow bored with the utopia of the 31st century. He then traveled back to ancient Egypt and became the Pharaoh Rama-Tut, who first appeared in Fantastic Four #19 (1963), which, yes, came out before his first appearance of Kang, who I haven’t actually got to yet. After being defeated, Kang briefly became the Scarlet Centurion in Avengers Annual #2 (1968), but then took on the name Kang the Conqueror, which is what he used for most of his time adventures against the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. He would even be thwarted by himself several times, including the aforementioned sojourn as Iron Lad, as well as when Rama-Tut tried to save the Celestial Madonna, AKA Mantis (yes, the same one from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) from Kang. He eventually met Ravonna Renslayer in Avengers #23 (1965), and the two would have a very complicated history (as I touched on while talking about episode 4). Growing old, Kang would discover a temporal Limbo (a different Limbo than the demonic one where Magik from The New Mutants controlled), reinventing himself as Immortus, who first appeared in Avengers #10 (1964). He worked for the Time-Keepers, fought the Avengers several times–including shortly after the Scarlet Witch lost both of her children and her sanity, which I talk about in WandaVision episode 3‘s post–but died of old age in Avengers: The Terminatrix Objective #3 (1993).
Notice that “He Who Remains” isn’t listed as another name for Kang? Because in the comics that’s a separate entity! First appearing in Thor #245 (1976), he was the final director of the TVA who resided in the Citadel at the End of Time. Man, sounds like someone I should’ve mentioned previously, right? Too bad comic book continuity is so fucked up that I literally had never heard of him before writing all this! And yes, I did do a lot of reading into the Time Variance Authority, but “He Who Remains” isn’t listed on their page on the Marvel Database. Doesn’t help that HWR appeared a full decade before the TVA did in Thor #371 (1986)! But here he is now, except that this He Who Remains has been wrapped up into another incarnation of Kang. Am I done explaining all this? Oof…
So where does that leave Loki and crew? The MCU is now open to the multiverse, most likely directly leading into the upcoming What If…? show since I assume the other realities have bigger differences than “what if Black Panther became Star-Lord?” The multiverse will be a major deal later this year when Spider-Man: No Way Home comes out, and then again next year with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. He Who Remains/Kang’s introduction here will lead directly into Quantumania in 2023, but he might appear in other shows/movies before then. Hell, Phase 4 of the MCU could be setting up a multiversal war with Kang as the big bad! Loki is also the first Disney+ show to overtly say it’s getting a second season, but we have no idea when that will happen. Before Quantumania? After? And will movies seemingly unrelated to the multiverse like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Eternals have some sort of connection to this potentially monumental change to the status quo? It’s all speculation at this point. But I’m not a YouTuber pumping out speculation videos three times a week; I’m a different kind of nerd who writes essentially essays, which is always going to be popular and will never go out of style!
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