For the longest time, it was undeniable that Thanos was the biggest baddest villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios spent multiple Marvel movies building up the threat the Mad Titan posed to our favourite MCU characters, and when he finally made his move in Infinity War, it was terrifying.
The Infinity Stone-obsessed bad guy easily crushed the Avengers, and with a snap of his purple sausage fingers, he reduced half the universe to ash. His only mistake, as he realised, was allowing the Avengers to survive and regroup, ultimately leading to his time-displaced duplicate dying.
Now, though, as Phase 4 draws to a close and Phase 5 begins with the release of Ant-Man 3, a new Marvel villain has risen to challenge Thanos for the title of ‘MCU big bad’. He’s called Kang the Conqueror, and while he may not be a hulking giant, he’s not a threat that should be underestimated, as the Ant-Man characters quickly learned. So the question is, who’s more dangerous, Thanos or Kang? Let’s take a look at our fighters before working out who we think would win, and we’ll start with Thanos.
You know him, you hate him (or maybe love him; the internet’s a big place), Thanos was the big bad of Marvel’s Phase 1 through 3 who sought to gather the Infinity Stones and wipe out half of all life in the Universe. Thanos was, to be honest, a juggernaut (Editor: isn’t he an X-Men character?) who tore through the Avengers like a hungry kid ripping into a candy bar.
Thanos has proven himself several times over. He beat the Hulk in a punch-up, battled Thor, Cap, and Iron Man at once and basically made all the Avengers look like chumps. Beyond his prodigious pugilistic powers, though, Thanos is a canny and cunning warrior adept at playing mind games with those who dare face him.
If we gave Thanos the Infinity Gauntlet, he would become an even more terrifying threat capable of manipulating reality in such a way that he claims he could shred reality down to atoms. He never makes good on this threat, but Thanos isn’t the type to talk trash and not back it up.
Thanos doesn’t come to a fight alone, either. At his back, he has the Black Order, a group of powerful champions who individually were able to battle the Avengers one on one. He also has an entire legion of ferocious soldiers who aren’t necessarily a threat individually but can overwhelm even supersoldiers like Cap and Black Panther.
The MCU’s fresh-faced villain who’s still got that new bad guy smell. Kang’s not got as many feats as Thanos, but he’s only had two appearances so far, and one of those technically wasn’t even him. It was his variant, He Who Remains, but Kang is still a terrifyingly powerful foe.
While he’s not as physically strong as Thanos, we know that the Kang Scott Lang runs into during Ant-Man 3 has fought and killed multiple Avengers (including Thor, apparently), so he’s no slouch in combat.
The main difference between Kang and Thanos is that the time travelling tyrant’s powers aren’t wholly natural. They come from his technologically advanced suit, which grants him a range of superpowers, including energy manipulation, super strength, and a degree of invulnerability. On top of this, Kang’s also a particularly smart cookie, having cracked multidimensional time travel.
It’s these powers that make him such a dangerous enemy. Kang isn’t limited to attacking you in the ‘here and now’. Using his advanced technology, he can attack you in the ‘if and when’. Kang also has an entire Council of Kangs at his back, so even if you beat one of his variants, another one will just pop up and take his place. Afterall, there are infinite multiverses and just as many Kangs.
Who wins, Kang or Thanos?
If it was a one-on-one fight, then we’d have to give it to Thanos. He’s just too much of a physical threat for Kang to overcome. Look at how Thanos (without using the Infinity Stones) took Hulk apart at the start of Infinity War. It remains one of the most impressive physical feats in the entire MCU. Kang meanwhile struggled against Scott Lang, one of the less physically impressive Avengers.
That said, Kang isn’t as limited to physical violence as Thanos, and it’s not how he operates as a villain. There’s a whole Council of Kangs working across the Marvel Multiverse, and they’re not restricted to three-dimensional space as Thanos is.
Thanos may defeat one Kang in a punch-up, but then there’s nothing to stop one of the Kang variants from travelling back in time and snuffing Thanos out before he ever gets a chance to raise his chunky fists against a Kang again. Even if Thanos brought his armies with him against the Kangs, we don’t see them defeating the master of time.
Ultimately then, we’re going to give it to Kang. Thanos, at the end of the day, was a universal threat. Kang and his countless duplicates have the potential to dominate the infinite multiverse. But what about the Infinity Gauntlet, you may say?
Well, unfortunately for Thanos, we’ve already seen that the Infinity Stones are tied to their native realities, and while the Mad Titan may be able to destroy a universe Kang lives beyond the reach of even the most powerful objects in Earth-616.
If you want to see Kang in action yourself, then check out our how to watch Ant-Man 3 guide. You can also read our Ant-Man 3 review, and we’ve broken down the whole Ant-Man cast for you as well.
If that’s not enough, we’ve multiple articles on all the new movies coming from Marvel Studios, including The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, The Marvels, and Thunderbolts.