He Who Remains
We’re at the end of the road. A road previously paved and now just waiting for two Loki variants. “For All Time. Always”, the finale episode of Loki, takes the two titular heroes to the end of time itself and beyond.
Pumping the breaks for a moment, just so that none of you can come back later and cry foul. It goes without saying that from this point on:
“Here be SPOILERS!”.
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR LOKI
Faced with the unknown future at the Citadel at the end of time, Loki and Sylvie find themselves in the presence of a rather eccentric apple-devouring gentlemen. One who’s introduction to us by Miss Minutes (Tare Strong) as “He Who Remains” played delightfully off-kilter by Jonathan Majors of Lovecraft Country fame, was perfect. According to this gentleman, he knows all and sees all and has up to this point, orchestrated it all. While this certainly opens a multiverse size can of worms, it explains a lot: Sylvie’s life, her capture, Loki’s experience with the TVA, and more.
This He Who Remains has been pulling the strings all along. Like some sort of temporal Willy Wonka, he put both Loki and Sylvie through their paces straight to him. As he hopes they might be willing and able to keep the TVA going while he slips out and retires. While Loki sees this not as an opportunity to rule, an opportunity older Loki would have stabbed someone in the back for. This version of Loki sees it more as something that needs to be done to keep chaos at bay.
Why Does Loki Feel That Way?
Well, He Who Remains spills the beans about how the TVA was formed. It’s a result of a version of himself discovering the multiverse. With many times many versions of himself who all went to war with one another in an attempt to either control or maintain their own separate timelines and thus realities/universes.
He Who Remains warns the pair: if he dies the temporal floodgates open and can’t be shut. Versions of himself, more evil than the two Lokis perceive him to be, will make their way throughout the multiverse and in a single word, conquer.
Sylvie, hell-bent on finally getting her revenge for the crap-show that has been her life has been up until now thanks to the TVA, the Time Keepers (the robot puppets who ran the TVA), and this odd fellow and his stories of a multiverse-wide war, decides to take the route less traveled. When faced with the point of no return, the point in which He Who Remains can no longer see the future and his fate, Sylvie sends Loki packing back to the TVA while she slays the proverbial ‘man behind the curtain’.
With a wink and a warning, He Who Remains dies. Leaving Sylvie without a purpose and Loki trapped in a TVA where he is not only unrecognized; but in which he sees a statue where the statues of the three Time Keepers once stood. But who is this statue of? One that bears a striking resemblance to He Who Remains…
Folks, let me introduce to you all the next major villain of the MCU—Kang the Conqueror! So who is Kang?
Oh. and a bit of a tangent, here. He Who Remains in the Marvel Comics did create the Time Keepers that eventually formed the TVA. Though he was an ancient, mysterious being who through the help of Jane Foster and Thor, decided to help mend time. Okay, with that piece of housekeeping out of the way, let’s get to the meat and potatoes.
While Nathaniel Richards was born on Earth-6311 in the 30th century; he was brought to life in the pages of issue 19 of Fantastic Four in 1963. As a variant known as Rama-Tut, a time-traveler with a Sphinx-looking spaceship and a penchant for trying to rule ancient Egypt. A few months later, the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby creation made his second appearance as Kang in issue 8 of The Avengers.
Over the years, many versions of Kang from many different timelines and universes have clashed with the roster of heroes in Marvel’s wheelhouse. At one point, a younger version of Kang who went by the hip name of Iron Lad, helped to form the Young Avengers at a time when the not-young Avengers had broken up. Kang has also been part of groups made up entirely of many times many versions of the Conqueror himself. If you thought Loki and Sylvie and the handful of other Loki variants were out of this world, wait until the Council of Kings shows up to try and rule all of time and space.
The bottom line is, Kang means big trouble for the MCU but also big changes.
In the comics, Kang has deep ties to both Mr. Fantastic (aka Reed Richards) and Doctor Doom (aka Victor von Doom). If it hasn’t been apparent to you yet, Stan Lee loved alliterative character names and especially names so on the nose to describe a character, it could give you a nose bleed. While a Fantastic 4 movie within the MCU has been announced, the appearance of Kang means that the First Family of Marvel and their long time Latverian nemesis are coming soon to the house Iron Man built in 2008.
Looking ahead, it also means that the TVA are in for a world(s) of hurt. The fact that Hunter B-15 and Mobius did not recognize Loki is a huge sign that the multiverse is really going to mess things up for the heroes and villains of the MCU.
This also means we will be seeing Kang’s longtime girlfriend Ravonna Renslayer return. While we saw her abscond from the TVA with all the documentation Miss Minutes could find on the beginning of time, I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts, we’ll see her sooner rather than later.
The actions of Loki and Sylvie will also have huge implications not only for Doctor Strange in his next film Multiverse of Madness, but it means that poor Peter Parker’s world is about to be completely shattered in Spider-Man: No Way Home. The multiverse is coming and everything is going through the wringer.
Three Kang More…
The evidence was all there for those in the know—Renslayer, Qeng Enterprises on the Stark Tower at the end of time, and Alioth—but for the rest of you lucky folks, the fun is just about to begin. Just as fans freaked out at the end of The Avengers when that lumpy, purple chin and winning grin showed up in the form of Thanos, the time has come to freak out once more. While the over-arching story of the MCU’s next Phase is still shrouded in mystery. One thing is for certain thanks to this first season of Loki, there is no going back—Kang is coming and his conquest will be unlike anything we’ve seen before.
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