6 Villains Who Could Replace Kang as the Big Bad of the Multiverse Saga

kang the conqueror

On the heels of news from a couple of weeks ago that Destin Daniel Crettin will no longer be directing Avengers: Kang Dynasty, the speculation that Jonathan Majors’ Kang will no longer serve as the main antagonist, or “big bad,” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Multiverse Saga has really started to heat up. This is especially true when you consider that the character’s primary influence has been felt on the series side, where Loki just wrapped up its two-season, 12-episode arc in a satisfying way. But even if pivoting away from the character solves one problem, that still raises an even more important question: Who should step in to replace Kang, either for both Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars, or just the finale?

Below are five possible alternatives:

The Big Name
1. Doctor Victor Von Doom

Among superhero fans, this character needs no introduction. Indeed, as far as Marvel villains go, he is at the top of the food chain, capable of matching science with Tony Stark, matching magic with Stephen Strange, and matching kingdoms with the Black Panther. Alongside the X-Men, he was arguably one of the most coveted of the Fox-controlled characters that Marvel Studios acquired when Disney purchased 21st Century Fox in 2017. And Doctor Doom was at the center of not just the original Secret Wars comic event in 1984, but the more multiverse-centric event from 2015. Indeed, “God Doom” featured Victor at his most iconic, reaching his apotheosis and ruling the remnants of a shattered Multiverse as its God Emperor. From that position, it’s easy to see how he could seamlessly fill out the “Dynasty” aspect of The Kang Dynasty.

However, it is precisely because Doom can be such an enriching asset to the MCU as an ever-present, ongoing antagonist that it would be viewed as a waste to slot him into the role of the “Final Boss” to be vanquished by the Avengers. Telling his story and developing his character over multiple projects and across multiple conflicts can flesh him out and give mainstream audiences more of an opportunity to connect with him over the long term. But having him be the Final Boss of the Multiverse Saga and not be defeated in a satisfying way would be worse, because it won’t provide the closure and sense of culmination. It’s a Catch-22 for Marvel if they were to slot Doom into the role, and that explains why it shouldn’t be him.

The Variants
2. Thanos

This would be one of the more controversial choices, for sure, but in a way, it would bring things full circle. Yes, the Avengers’ inability to deal with their own failure in Avengers: Infinity War led them back to him in Avengers: Endgame. But surely, across an infinite Multiverse, there had to be a Thanos with even grander ambition than snapping away half the lives in the universe. A Thanos who wants to snap away half of the universes, then, is just the kind of leveling up that made The Force Awakens’ “build a bigger Death Star” plan so successful — play the hits, only louder.

But admittedly, there’s a huge risk in bringing back the villain the MCU successfully pulled off because they couldn’t quite pull off establishing The Next Thanos; it could be seen as an admission of defeat and creatively bankrupt. That said, the idea of time loops and recurring, iterant cycles has been central to the Multiverse Saga so far. Marvel might be able to lean into the deja vu of it all and make it work.

3. Infinity Ultron

If Thanos is the Avengers villain who won, then Ultron is the Avengers villain who lost. But What If…? gave us a glimpse into a fully actualized Ultron who, if unleashed on the world could become a threat to every universe in the Multiverse. And right now, with artificial intelligence such a big part of the zeitgeist, there’s a way to bring this upgraded Ultron to the big screen in such a way that it feels not like a retread, but an existential threat.

On the other hand, there aren’t a lot of ways to make Ultron drones visually interesting, and audiences would probably grow tired of repetitous battles, even if it’s fun to see heroes unleash their full powers on killer robots.

4. The Maker

Now it would for sure be a tough sell to fans for newly-introduced Reed Richards and his evil Variant to be thrust into prominent roles in The Multiverse Saga at around the same time. But while it certainly runs the risk of being considered rushed, the fact that the MCU already introduced the Council of Kangs makes a Council of Reeds less likely, and functionally, if Good Reed is going to possibly step up with a plan to save the Multiverse from collapse, an Evil Reed who has a much more sinister plan can capably fill the void left by infinite Kangs.

The other major upside for using The Maker in this fashion is that unlike Doom, he can be definitively defeated without fans feeling like a character with long term Big Bad potential has been wasted. What better time to introduce us to the ultimate twisted mirror version of a hero as major villain than the Multiverse Saga? Which brings us to the next possibility…

5. Hydra Cap

One of the most controversial characters introduced in comics in recent years is the version of Steve Rogers who was actually a sleeper Hydra Agent, ushering in the fascist takeover of the United States. In many ways, Hydra Cap was prescient, but over the years, the polarizing nature of the controversy has waned, so much so that Steve’s “Hail Hydra” in Endgame was viewed as a nod to the character. It’s been nothing new that rumors have swirled around Chris Evans’ possible return to the MCU, and after playing villainous roles in Knives Out and The Gray Man, he’d likely be game for playing an Evil Captain America.

What are the downsides? Perhaps the “political” aspects of the character would take away from the more cosmic scope of the other presumed antagonists. But across an infinite Multiverse, while our Steve was capable of wielding Mjolnir, perhaps Evil Steve wielded the Infinity Gauntlet or some other immensely powerful weapon as he extended Hydra’s reign across dimensions. In any event, the shot of Chris Evans wearing the Hydra colors as he stepped out of the shadows, a la the train station scene in Infinity War, would be one helluva reveal.

6. King Killmonger

If Hydra Cap represents the twisted mirror version of “I Could Do This All Day,” King Killmonger represents the twisted mirror version of “Wakanda Forever.” Another recent comics storyline was the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda, where the highly advanced African nation first sought to explore space, but turned to conquest, and established an empire across the stars in the name of Wakanda, led by an emperor, N’Jadaka, who was essentially a reincarnated Killmonger. For the MCU, that story doesn’t have to be replicated beat by beat, but if an audience primed for Kang the Conqueror got, essentially, Killmonger the Conqueror instead, with all of the accouterments of a Wakandan ruler but leveled up to cosmic, it would be quite the sight. Not to mention that in Michael B. Jordan, you’d have an established A-list star and charismatic performer who could sell the idea and get audiences to buy in. Yes, it would for sure be an out-of-left field pivot, but it would certainly be provocative and get the people going.

Shifting the focus of the Multiverse Saga away from Kang would be a bold and controversial move. And surely the brain trust at Marvel Studios are weighing the pros and cons of such a move as we speak. But if they chose to take such a drastic step, each of these choices offers a feasible alternative, and if well-executed, could still lead to a satisfying conclusion to these recent Phases of MCU storytelling.

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