Tom Hiddleston as Loki in the Citadel at the End of Time

Loki Finally Gave Us a Worthy Villain for the Marvel Cinematic Universe

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Prior to Loki‘s season 1 finale, one could argue that Loki himself has been the best Marvel villain to date. For Loki to become an antihero and now the hero of his own story means there’s a pretty big void—and the Marvel Cinematic Universe has a villain problem.

Many of them are underwritten and overblown, and it was hard to take big bad Thanos seriously when he resembled a giant grape. But the last episode of Loki gave us a villain we can believe in.

***Major spoilers for the finale of Loki season 1, “For All Time. Always.”***

The move to introduce Jonathan Majors’ Kang will excite many fans while leaving many others yelling “Told you so!” at their screens. After WandaVision watchers feverishly predicted the appearance of Mephisto and saw his machinations everywhere they weren’t, Majors playing a big role as Kang here is a happier culmination of months of Loki theorizing.

Fans had seen many Easter eggs indicating Kang throughout the series, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s Ravonna Renslayer has been both his love interest and antagonist in the comics. All signs pointed to Kang (sometimes literally).

Happily, when he showed up, Majors made the longtime comics villain his own and delivered an epic performance.

If I have one gripe with the staging of the season 1 finale, it’s that most of it is spent sitting down, with Kang explaining the way things are and revealing himself to be He Who Remains, the man behind the curtain, to Loki and Sylvie. He even pours them each a coffee to enjoy while he monologues.

While lesser actors might have made these scenes drag, however, Majors (Lovecraft Country) is incredible. He rendered Kang equal parts playful, frightening, brilliant, and perhaps more than a bit unhinged. I could have listened to his Kang read the written history of time.

Even though I might wish there hadn’t been quite so much exposition as we received in episode 6, it’s hard to see what else Loki could have done with Kang as its endgame. While the character is well-known to comics fans and people Very Online have been hearing about him all season, this all-knowing new villain is totally unknown to more casual Marvel-watchers. A long and chatty introduction was needed.

I’ll be interested to see reactions from folks who weren’t expecting Kang or didn’t know who he was. But I think Majors’ performance is so excellent here they’ll be won over into believing this previously unseen force of nature was machinating everything from the Citadel at the End of Time. Even better, the Kang we meet isn’t even the Final Boss version of Kang.

What’s so exciting in seeing Majors just absolutely own every moment as Kang is the possibilities Loki’s outcome puts into play. If Kang is telling the truth (and Loki seems to think he is), there are potentially infinite variant Kangs that we could see popping up throughout MCU properties. This means that Majors’ presence could be utilized to play a wide range of Kangs, though I assume the one we saw in the TVA statue at the end—let’s call him He Who Conquers—may be our main Kang going forward.

Jonathan Majors as He Who Remains, Kang, in Loki

As Marvel.com reminds us in their Kang reveal article published after the finale, “Those He Who Remains variants who could escape from their own multiverse should the timeline break and enter ours? They’re the ones you need to worry about.” Well, now we worry. And it’s awesome.

It turns out that every Loki creative was thrilled with Majors’ casting and performance, as you can read about from their testimonials, and he seems to have a massive fan in Tom Hiddleston. Marvel.com writes:

“I just want to salute Jonathan Majors,” shares Tom Hiddleston. “He came in the last lap of this series and made an extraordinary impact. And it’s quite something to do that for a story, to get to its final chapter and to introduce the character of such breadth, and depth, and charisma, and intelligence. He was dazzling. It was our final week of filming, literally. He came in and blew us all away.”

Sophia Di Martino, who plays Sylvie, was equally impacted by Majors’ delivery.

“He was so much fun and he absolutely blew it out of the park,” Sophia Di Martino says. “As soon as he was on set, he was phenomenal. Like, no one could take their eyes off him. You knew something magical was happening and it was like, ‘Oh my god, are you watching this? This is going to be amazing.’”

Majors’ Kang gives me hope for the MCU going forward, as our heroes finally have a worthy big bad to counter. He also brings with him the possibility of a new Multiversal War and Multiverse shenanigans that could dominate Phase 4.

It was already confirmed that Majors is set to appear in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, but now knowing what we know, Kang could show up anywhere—and his influence could be behind many other plots. He’s extremely good at pulling strings, and now the worst versions of him are on the loose.

I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about a Marvel adversary. It might have been Loki in 2011’s Thor. How fitting that Loki delivers us the next villain we may find ourselves rooting for.

(image: Marvel Studios/Disney+)

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Image of Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.