We Was Kangs: On Jonathan Majors’ Lively ‘Loki’ Performance

It has been a minute since the season one finale for Loki aired. These last few Loki-less Wednesdays [not counting the making-of special last week] have been brutal, but they’ve allowed me to take a sort of reflective look at the Marvel series.

The finale reminded us in many ways that time is a bittersweet, finite thing, and that everything good eventually has to come to an end. Okay, bleak outlook aside, the finale episode of Loki was just as exciting and time/mind-bending as the rest of the season. And though it did leave our emerald-clad heroes Loki and Sylvie separated at the end of time and the beginning of a new multiversal war, the season also made a lot of exciting promises for the future. Like the promise that Jonathan Majors is about to become a household name.

If you weren’t already made aware, Jonathan Majors is set to become Marvel’s next big bad, Kang the Conqueror. Majors, of the short-lived Lovecraft Country, signed on to play Kang months ago, in the upcoming sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Details about that film are still pretty scarce given it just started production and still has two more years before its release, but we didn’t have to wait until 2023 to see Majors rock the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The season finale of Loki revealed that it was ♪ Kang all along ♪ at the end of the yellow brick timeline. However, it wasn’t the version we can expect to see in Quantumania. This version of the famous conqueror, titled “He Who Remains,” is less of an evil time-manipulating warlord, and more of a benevolent time-manipulating dictator. Or so it seems. The true intentions of “He Who Remains” will likely come into light as the MCU quickly becomes the MCM (that second M meaning “Multiverse”) and the variants of Kang come to wreak havoc on the sacred timeline. Variants, by the way, that to my current knowledge will all be portrayed by Jonathan Majors. This multiversal role as Marvel’s newest big bad is sure to cement Majors’ name in the minds of fans everywhere. 

But it isn’t just what Kang can do for Jonathan Majors, it’s what Jonathan Majors can do for Kang.

Majors’ portrayal of “He Who Remains” was a head-turner, especially for viewers familiar with the original comic book character. Besides the fact that HWR and Kang are two different people in the comics, the former is much less eccentric than his TV counterpart. The version we see in Loki may be a far cry from the source material, but it was a very welcome change. Majors’ lively performance as the ruler of the TVA was full of life, energy, and a uniqueness that’s sure to separate him from Majors’ upcoming portrayal of Kang proper. Above all, this Kang variant harkens back to what I believe to be one of Marvel’s strong points: their sense of humanity. 

Since its inception, the MCU has done a pretty good job of imbuing their larger-than-life modern deities with good old-fashioned human values. There’s the obvious examples, like the transformation of an alcoholic arms dealer into humanity’s savior. But even godlike characters are packed with a surprising amount of humility; especially the villains. It’s what makes Thanos so interesting. He’s given understandable reasons behind his tyranny without making his actions justifiable. It comes as no surprise then, that Kang would be the same.

The liberties Jonathan Majors took with his performance of HWR allowed the character to be transformed from a robotic, mysterious figure into… well, a man. Something that this Kang variant points out is that he is just a man. Not a god, not a Titan, a regular human being made of flesh and bone. That was ultimately put to the test by Sylvie when she drove her dagger into HWR’s heart. But before he said goodbye (or rather, see you later), HWR left a rather interesting expectation for his future variants. 

We know thanks to Loki and Slyvie that variants aren’t always exactly alike. The two share several similarities as Loki’s, but I’d hesitate to even call Sylvie a “Loki” at this point. We can surely expect the same from HWR’s variants. 

There’s the obvious Kang the Conqueror variant, who no doubt will be more of a sinister, serious type of bad guy, but this also opens the door for several different kinds of Kangs. And with it, several different kinds of performances by Majors, and several different deep dives into the psyche of Marvel’s newest big bad.

Now, Kang probably won’t the last supervillain to shake things to their core, but I have a feeling we’re going to be seeing him a lot in the years to come. Beyond even Quantumania and this new phase of the MCU. The openness of an infinite multiverse allows for endless possibilities, and endless portrayal of Kang by Majors. It’s truly exciting to think about when and where the actor can take this role.

It’s unclear where Majors will take his role of Kang after Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, but we can expect to see him take on the duo when that film hits theaters in 2023.