Editor’s note: The below contains spoilers for the Loki Season 2 finale.
The Big Picture
- In the Season 2 finale, Loki becomes the new overseer of the Sacred Timeline, eliminating the need for He Who Remains to appear in the MCU again.
- By removing He Who Remains and the Council of Kangs from the storyline, Marvel has the opportunity to introduce a different main villain, such as Victor Von Doom.
- Getting rid of Kang the Conqueror allows Marvel to potentially recast the character with another actor and remove Jonathan Majors from the franchise due to the actor’s ongoing legal situation.
Among the many issues that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had in the wake of Avengers: Endgame is the lack of a centralized threat that draws all the different heroes together. While the multiverse is a fun way to feature callbacks to previous Marvel projects, it doesn’t make it feel like there are real stakes and does not give fans a reason to invest in watching every single project. If there’s nothing that ties these characters’ adventures together, then is the universe doing anything other than spinning its wheels? It seemed like the MCU attempted to fix this blunder through the introduction of Jonathan Majors as He Who Remains in Loki, which helped set up the appearance by Kang in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. However, the underwhelming reaction to the third Ant-Man film and Majors’ ongoing legal situation has made this story arc more complicated. This doesn’t mean that Marvel Studios doesn’t have the opportunity to write Majors and Kang out of the universe entirely; in fact, Loki’s second-season finale may have found the perfect way to ditch the storyline altogether.
Loki, the God of Mischief, steps out of his brother’s shadow to embark on an adventure that takes place after the events of “Avengers: Endgame.”
Loki Takes He Who Remains’ Place as Keeper of the Sacred Timeline
Nathaniel Richards, also known as “He Who Remains,” was first introduced at the end of Loki’s first season. As the founder and ruler of the Time Variance Authority, He Who Remains is arguably the most powerful character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania established that He Who Remains doesn’t just present a threat to one timeline; he wants to take over all of reality. It is revealed that Richards’ various variants, the Council of Kangs, plan to invade different timelines within the multiverse. It’s a bigger threat than even Josh Brolin’s Thanos presented to the heroes. Kang and his variants could hold dominance over all existence, and the Avengers wouldn’t be able to use any time travel device to stop him. However, Loki Season 2 changed this direction by having Loki become the new caretaker of the Sacred Timeline.
At the end of Loki’s second season, He Who Remains presents Loki (Tom Hiddleston) with an impossible dilemma. If Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) kills him, then the entire timeline will be thrust into chaos. This becomes increasingly challenging for Loki, as Sylvie is so intent on seeing He Who Remains killed that Loki must choose to spare only one of them. Loki cannot let the Sacred Timeline collapse, but he also can’t deny his feelings for Sylvie. In order to protect reality and save the person he cares about most, Loki takes He Who Remains’ place as the overseer of the different branches in the timeline. With Loki in control of the universe, He Who Remains doesn’t need to show up again in the MCU.
Loki doesn’t necessarily write out the Council of Kangs entirely. He Who Remains makes a reference to the threat that his variants present, suggesting that Marvel could still move forward with the storyline in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty. However, the Council of Kangs would have significantly less power now that they don’t hold any leverage over the Time Variance Authority. Loki also has the machine created by Victor Timely (Majors), who dies trying to fix the Temporal Loom. Although the other Kangs could still present a threat to the Avengers, the two variants that are closely associated with Majors in particular are defeated. This gives Marvel the opportunity to potentially recast the character with another actor in order to remove Majors from the series.
Johnathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror Performance Wasn’t Working
Getting rid of the Council of Kangs, He Who Remains, and Victor Timely isn’t just a way for Marvel to avoid the unwanted headlines that Majors’ trial would generate. The character simply wasn’t working. While He Who Remains’ somewhat goofy personality worked within the context of a weird, idiosyncratic world of Loki, it became more difficult to consider him to be an actual threat when he made his cinematic debut in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
The film’s underwhelming box office performance and mixed reviews suggest that it wouldn’t be all that disappointing for Marvel fans if the character was given a less significant role, or abandoned entirely. It wouldn’t be the first time that Marvel abandoned a major villain that was supposedly threatening all of existence; remember when the all-powerful judge Arishem popped up at the end of Eternals?
Audiences may also simply be uncomfortable watching Majors on screen given the details about the trial that are still being released. Despite the praise that Majors earned for his performance in Magazine Dreams, Searchlight has dropped the film from its current release schedule. Although Marvel reportedly “changed all of its plans” for the upcoming films due to Majors’ performance in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, there’s been no word on how the shuffling of release dates affects the universe moving forward.
Marvel Has the Freedom to Introduce Another Villain and Replace Kang
Reducing or cutting Kang from the story might give the MCU the chance to introduce a different main villain, such as Victor Von Doom. Reports indicated that Feige was reportedly considering replacing Kang with Doom if Majors’ legal situation worsened. With the Fantastic Four film now dated for a May 2025 release date, Marvel has more than enough time to change its plans in order to turn Doom into a centralized threat for the entire universe moving forward. Introducing Doom could also help alleviate some of the pressure put on the multiversal storylines by featuring an Earth-bound villain.
Unlike Kang, Doom is a villain that has appeared on screen before, but never quite done right. Although both Julian McMahon and Toby Kebbell did their best in Tim Story’s Fantastic Four films and Josh Trank’s Fant4stic, respectively, neither adaptation understood what made the character quite so terrifying. If Marvel intends to finally get their Fantastic Four adaptation right, there’s no better way to introduce Marvel’s “First Family” than to face them off against their most iconic villain. The MCU desperately needs a new “Big Bad,” and Doom may have the cultural cache that is needed.
Loki is available to stream on Disney+.
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Khushi Patel is a science fiction author who lives in Austin, Texas. She has published three novels, and her work has been praised for its originality and imagination. Khushi is a graduate of Rice University, and she has worked as a software engineer. She is a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, and her books have been nominated for several awards.