Kang the Conqueror’s powers explained
He may not have the most inspired name or the coolest powers, but Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) doesn’t let that stop him from putting down the bad guys (or from being so dang lovable). His first film sees the titular hero face off against Yellowjacket (Corey Stoll), who replicates Hank Pym‘s (Michael Douglas) shrinking technology to engage in tiny tussles. The sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, shakes up the power scale with Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) — more a person trying to survive an extraordinary situation than she is a true villain — who uses her molecular instability to phase through objects.
Despite earlier rumors, it was confirmed in November 2019 that Ant-Man 3 is on its merry way, to be directed by Ant-Man veteran Peyton Reed. Details on the upcoming movie are still sketchy at best, from potential release dates to what kind of post-Endgame adventures are in store for our heroes, but a new villain is a no-brainer — someone with different goals and abilities than Yellowjacket or Ghost. According to a Deadline report, Ant-Man and the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) might be getting exactly that with their deadliest adversary yet: Kang the Conqueror.
Kang the Conqueror’s time-bending history
People with “the Conqueror” affixed to their name tend to be the dangerous sort, and Kang is no exception. His history is among the most complicated of any Marvel Comics character — and that’s saying something, what with all the retcons and reboots and what have you. Really, though, it all comes down to two words: time travel.
Born in the 31st century as Nathaniel Richards (possibly related to Reed Richards, a.k.a. the Fantastic Four’s elastic hero Mr. Fantastic), Kang always had a deep love for history. Though his tenure as a scholar fulfilled him, discovering Doctor Doom‘s time platform allowed him to do more than just study history: now, he could live history.
And live the history he does, wasting no time in becoming an Egyptian pharaoh with some twisted plans. Defeated by the Fantastic Four, he accidentally jumps through time a millennium ahead of his native era, finding Earth in an abysmal state. As someone well versed in technology and time travel, it’s no big thing for Kang to conquer the world, inflating his ego to the point that he sets an impossible-sounding ultimate goal: rule over all of history. An ambitious conqueror indeed.
The convolutions of time travel make it so that multiple variants of Kang end up peppered throughout history, each with their own personality and agenda: Iron Lad, Immortus, Victor Timely, the Scarlet Centurion, and countless others. Keeping track of these myriad identities requires patience, an exceptional memory, and enough money to buy the endless stream of comics they appear in. When it comes down to it, though, everything traces back to Nathaniel Richards, the one and only original Kang.
Kang the Conqueror is a man of many talents
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has seen its fair share of extraordinarily powerful villains; Thanos immediately comes to mind, able to take down the Hulk even without all the Infinity Stones. There have also been villains who boast no superpowers, such as Helmut Zemo, able to essentially ruin the Avengers without throwing a single punch. Kang the Conqueror is a bit of an interesting case, as he falls somewhere in the middle — he has no innate powers, but he wields technology that makes him nearly godlike. He’s not unlike Iron Man in that sense, but he’s far more devious.
Of note is Kang‘s trademark purple and green battle armor, which isn’t just for show. It grants him a degree of super strength (not on the Hulk or Thor’s level, but he’s no pushover), energy blasts of significant force, instant access to his extensive arsenal of deadly weaponry (including such delights as a molecular expander and an electrical paralysis generator) — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As a time traveler, he’s constantly improving his battle gear and finding new ways to dispose of those who would stand against his insanely expansive conquest.
Ultimately, Kang‘s greatest weapon is not his anti-gravity device or his ultra-diode ray gun, but himself. Already brilliant before adopting the time-traveling persona he’s best known for, he’s become a military genius, adept in both strategy and combat. He has the right sort of charisma to raise armies in whatever timeline he travels to, which he can summon at will, and he’s an accomplished engineer and technician. His resume is probably the longest historical document in existence — which is probably exactly what he was going for from the get-go.
Kang the Conqueror is obviously not a man to be trifled with. If he truly is up to bat in Ant-Man 3, it’s doubtful that it’ll be his only appearance in the MCU. With time travel so prominent in Avengers: Endgame, who’s to say it won’t be used again in the films to come?