While everyone seems to agree that the Loki finale was stellar, one of the best things we’ve seen from the struggling MCU in a long time, it has sparked a bit of an unusual debate about how it plays into the larger future of the Marvel universe.
To talk about this at all, we need to get into spoiler territory, so turn back now if you haven’t watched the finale or seen uh, Quantumania, if you care.
The debate centers on if the Loki finale was designed so that Marvel has an “offramp” for Kang, or whether it’s serving to set up the grand Kang conflict to come in the future. There is a recent, infamous insider pre-air quote about how Marvel is “f***ed” on Kang after the Loki finale, but those who watched seem to be split. It’s like an MCU inkblot test.
There’s evidence for both sides. I do think you can view this as the culmination of the Kang conflict if you wanted it to be the culmination. It was a brilliant ending in which killing Kang is not the answer, in fact not killing him is one of the only paths forward, but Loki forges a new solution, holding the entire multiverse together as the new God of Stories nestled in a cosmic Yggdrasil world tree. That, in effect, is “beating” Kang at his own game, and honestly, a pretty good resolution for the villain’s arc.
It’s also the case that really, there’s just not that much Kang setup in the MCU so far. Kang was obviously the main villain in Quantumania, which is generally agreed to be one of the MCU’s worst movies ever, and that version was killed (by ants…ants). Then, the other place he’s appeared is both season of Loki, and now the Timely and He Who Remain variants are effectively done. It’s unclear how Kang is supposed to fit into future MCU movies like Deadpool, Captain America 4, Thunderbolts and Fantastic Four, but it seems unlikely he’s the main villain in any of them, even if he was meant to appear in some form or another. But given that the The Avengers: The Kang Dynasty probably will not get here until 2026, it feels like there is still room to change course after the Loki finale, which would solve the problem of A) more Kangs not seeming like a very good villain and B) unloading Jonathan Majors who is facing very serious criminal charges that have caused him to be dropped from essentially all other projects except the MCU.
However, there’s the other side.
As Loki is set up, I do think that the idea was that while He Who Remains is foiled, the wider threat of Kang variants remain, especially now that the multiverse hasn’t collapsed. That is referenced directly at the end of the episode after discussion the Ant-Man variant that was killed, that others are still out there. Of course the post-credits of Quantumania was the reveal of thousands of Kangs, the Council of Kangs, that should still exist as a threat.
Fundamentally I do not believe Loki was designed to kill the Kang storyline. But I do believe that because of the way it played out it could be used to ditch Kang so the MCU can pivot to say, a Kang-less Secret Wars instead, playing into the rumors that this may be the time to introduce Doctor Doom as a main villain instead.
At this point I’m not sure even Marvel knows what they’re doing here as Disney Plus cuts its shows and The Marvels is probably about to become the worst-performing MCU movie ever, despite it actually being pretty good. There are teases in that movie for two major storylines that have nothing to do with Kang, and it seems pretty easy to imagine Marvel just ghosting him from here. But we’ll see.
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