Marvel Studios’ Loki left viewers shocked last week after Episode 4, titled The Nexus Event, dropped a series of massive plot twists in the final ten minutes. Ravonna Renslayer, portrayed brilliantly by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, started by pruning Mobius before delivering Sylvie and Loki to the Time-Keepers. As the Time-Keepers are sentencing the two Variants to death, Hunter B-15 arrives, frees them from their time collars, and tosses Sylvie her sword. Loki and Sylvie prevail, and after the battle ends, Sylvie decapitates one of the Time-Keepers. But all is not as it seems, as it’s revealed that the all-knowing Time-Keepers are merely mindless androids, robots that are being controlled by whoever actually created the Time Variance Authority.
Sylvie and Loki are left rather speechless, and as Loki gathers the courage to finally tell Sylvie how he feels, Ravonna gains consciousness and prunes Loki. Thankfully, the Episode contained a mid-credits scene that revealed pruning a Variant doesn’t actually kill them, as we originally thought, but regardless, Ravonna’s actions have made her the villain of the series. But is she the only villain?
We still don’t know who exactly is controlling the TVA and the Sacred Timeline, or to what end, and we aren’t entirely sure if the last two episodes of Season 1 will divulge all the answers. What we do know, however, is that there’s a formidable time-travelling villain from the comics that has some pretty strong ties to Ravonna. That villain, of course, is Kang the Conqueror.
Now, it’s confirmed that Kang will be the villain of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and that he’ll be portrayed by Jonathan Majors (Lovecraft Country). It’s unclear whether Majors’ Kang will make an appearance in the Loki series, but there’s a fair amount of evidence to suggest that he’s the one controlling the TVA. Whether or not the show introduces him or simply alludes to him, Kang’s connections with Ravonna are too strong to be ignored. Not to mention Ravonna’s own history in the comics, which includes a very different relationship with the TVA than the one she has in the series. There’s a lot to unpack in this theory, so let’s start with the basics.
Who Is Kang The Conqueror?
Nathaniel Richards, also known as Kang the Conqueror, is perhaps one of the most confusing and complex of the Marvel villains. To understand who he is, it is first imperative to understand that there are multiple versions of Earth in the comics. In fact, there are multiple versions of the universe. The multiverse has been referenced a few times in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, most notably in Doctor Strange, and will have a much larger role in the MCU moving forward. There are multiple realities, some beautiful, some terrifying. We received a very small glimpse of an alternate reality in Episode 4 of Loki, when we saw Sylvie playing as a child on Asgard.
Earth-616 is considered the Prime Earth, the Earth that we know and that we’ve seen in the MCU. However, the Prime Kang is from an alternate version of Earth. Earth-6311, to be exact, a version of Earth that never experienced the Dark Ages. Kang, first known as Nathaniel Richards, is thought to be a descendant of the Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards, and he discovered the time technology of Doctor Doom (Reed’s arch-enemy), and travelled to ancient Egypt, ruling there as the Pharaoh Rama-Tut until the Fantastic Four defeated him.
Rama-Tut is one of the many aliases/identities of Kang. He has been known as Victor Timely, Scarlet Centurion, he even was a young hero, Iron Lad, at one point. You can see why it gets confusing. Multiple realities, multiple timelines, multiple Kangs, and we’re just scratching the surface here. In fact, there are so many versions of Kang that there is actually a Council of Kangs! The Prime Kang wished to rule over as many eras as he could, but sought to eliminate the inferior versions of himself. Interestingly, he would often send robots to rule in his stead, which certainly lines up with Episode 4’s plot twist with the Time-Keepers!
Speaking of the Time-Keepers and the Time Variance Authority, one of his alternate identities, Immortus, actually worked for the Time-Keepers! Yes, the Time-Keepers are, in fact, real! However in this case, much like the show itself, they aren’t quite as they seem. They pose as the Time-Keepers, but in truth, they are the Time-Twisters, malevolent beings who would see the destruction of many realities. They instructed Kang to oversee events from 3000 BC to 4000 AD, partially to undo the damage that alternate versions of himself had caused, and also to ensure that the course of history would keep them in power.
Needless to say, there’s a lot of history when it comes to Kang the Conqueror, and these are just the briefest of bullet points. He has existed in many eras and many realities, and is one of the most formidable villains our heroes have ever faced. It’s also worth mentioning that technically speaking, Kang doesn’t have any powers. He’s incredibly intelligent and skilled in combat, politics, and war, but he has no magical abilities to speak of. The fact that magic doesn’t work in the TVA means someone with extreme intelligence and knowledge of science would have to be controlling it, and Kang definitely fits the bill.
As an aside, Kang once kidnapped Mantis, Scarlet Witch, and Agatha Harkness. Many fans were surprised that Marvel chose to introduce Harkness in WandaVision, instead of a larger antagonist. However, if their plan was always to introduce Kang in Loki, it would certainly explain a lot. Speaking of Loki, how does the series’ villain, Ravonna Renslayer fit into all of this?
The Tragic Love Story Of Ravonna And Kang
In the comics, Ravonna Renslayer is also from an alternate version of Earth, the same version as Kang himself. In the 40th Century of Earth-6311, Ravonna is the daughter of King Carelius, who rules over the last part of civilization unconquered by Kang. It remains free of Kang’s rule due to his love for Princess Ravonna, who doesn’t share his affections. But in order to win her heart, Kang seeks to prove his might by summoning the Avengers to his current time and defeating them, once and for all. However, this show of strength only drives Ravonna further away from him, and she, her father, and their Kingdom join forces with the Avengers in hopes of defeating Kang.
It was a battle easily won by Kang and his forces, but in a rare show of mercy, Kang spares Ravonna and her father, angering Baltag, who was one of the Commanders and sought to gain control over Kang’s armies. Kang then joins forces with Ravonna and the Avengers in order to defeat his own army, which has now turned against him, and the Commander Baltag. They succeed, and Ravonna falls in love with Kang in the process. However, before Kang could return the Avengers to their proper time, Baltag broke free of his constraints and attempted to shoot Kang in the back. Ravonna threw herself in front of him, saving his life, and appeared to die in his arms. However, Kang used technology to keep Ravonna preserved, suspended between life and death.
The love story of Kang and Ravonna is tragic, to say the least, and it seems to be one that has occurred in many different realities. Interestingly enough, however, it seems Ravonna was one of the fatalities of Chronopolis, which was destroyed by Immortus, another version of Kang. Again, there’s a reason he’s considered one of the most complex villains.
So, where does that leave us with Ravonna? She’s a Princess in the comics, but she works for the Time Variance Authority in the show. Well, the answers may be in an interview with the actress herself.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw Says That The Show Is An Origin Story For Renslayer
In an interview, with Polygon, Mbatha-Raw said that her character’s connection with Kang won’t be all that prevalent in the show.
“I took a look at it, but I also knew it wasn’t the most useful information for the story we were telling in Loki. That was how [series director] Kate Herron and our producer Kevin Wright steered me. They told me not to go too deep into that stuff, because it isn’t really the part of time we’re dealing with. Who knows, maybe we get together in the future or the past or whatever. What is time, anyway, in the TVA?
Loki is more of an origin story for Renslayer. So this predates what people know and love about her from the comics. That gives us a bit of room to do something unexpected.”– Gugu Mbatha-Raw
This wouldn’t be the first time that Loki steps away from the comics. After all, despite the fact that Sylvie has similarities to both Lady Loki and Enchantress, it’s become clear that she’s her own original character. But what does this mean for Ravonna? Well, there are a few possibilities.
It’s entirely possible that Ravonna has yet to encounter Kang the Conqueror, and this is the story of who she is before she meets him. This could provide a really interesting post-credits scene in the Season 1 finale, with Ravonna encountering a figure that bears a resemblance to Kang, making us all the more excited for the upcoming Marvel projects.
However, it’s also possible that Ravonna already knows Kang, or at least a version of him. Perhaps she’s even loved him, and is working for the TVA in hopes of changing the events of her past. If she’s lived through any of the tragedy that her comic counterpart has, it isn’t surprising that she wants to change her fate. She doesn’t seem to be the one in control of the TVA, however, so perhaps whoever she is working for, be it Kang or someone else entirely, has promised her a change in destiny if she does her job well.
It’s also possible that Ravonna, much like Mobius, Hunter B-15, and all members of the TVA, is just another Variant. This might be the most interesting outcome of all, particularly if she thinks she’s the only member of the TVA who isn’t a Variant. Is she being manipulated just like everyone else?
It does seem likely that Kang is controlling the Time Variance Authority, however, based on the comics, there are a lot of other possibilities as well. From the Time-Twisters mentioned earlier to the All-Mother, there are a lot of different directions this show could go. And after the shocking ending of Episode 4, there’s no telling what will happen next! Hopefully Episode 5 will bring us more answers.
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