He Who Remains is dead. Kang the Conqueror is dead. Victor Timely is dead. The search for Marvel’s next Kang Variant — the one who we anticipate will be the Avengers’ next nemesis in Kang Dynasty — is on. And, the real villain, Ravonna Renslayer, has been under our nose for years.
When we say ‘years’, we mean just over two years ago with the events of Loki’s first season. Don’t roll your eyes: a lot can happen in two years, especially in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This was a pre-No Way Home, pre-Doctor Strange 2, pre-multiverse world if you can even remember such a thing. Back in these early days, the first season of the Marvel series introduced us to Ravonna Renslayer, one of the leaders of the TVA.
Loki season 2 has since seen Renslayer abandon the TVA and, thanks to Miss Minutes, discover her close personal history with the Kang the Conqueror variant, He Who Remains. The pair seem to have been romantically involved (“For us, for all of time.” He Who Remains tells her, and she longingly replies, “Always.”), and Renslayer fought for He Who Remains in the Multiversal War and helped him establish the TVA after his victory. We think that their connection goes even deeper, though, and that Renslayer is a Kang Variant herself.
The evidence has been right in front of us this entire time, from Marvel’s comic lore.
While Loki is largely an original story, like the wider multiverse storyline within Marvel Phase 5 it still draws from the source material for inspiration. In the show, Ravonna Renslayer is a well-established character who has a long and tangled history with Kang. In the comics, Ravonna and Kang and linked together in a constant on-off toxic romance, filled with betrayal. Sound familiar?
The pair’s dynamic has been plucked straight out of the comics for the series, with Miss Minutes showing Renslayer a glimpse of her relationship with He Who Remains from before he wiped her mind. It’s not one-for-one, but this is rooted in the established lore of the character, and we think this version of Renslayer is set to continue following in the footsteps of her comic book counterpart.
All signs point toward the MCU’s Renslayer being primarily based on comic book legend Walt Simonson’s time writing Avengers and Fantastic Four stories, specifically his Council of Cross-Time Kangs story (already used as inspiration for the Council of Kangs premise). During that story, Ravonna disguises herself as Kang-Nebula in order to infiltrate the council, effectively becoming a Kang Variant and successfully manipulating the other Kangs to get what she wants.
Simonson also wrote a Fantastic Four story featuring the TVA in which this Ravonna-Kang hybrid was a chief antagonist, as well as introducing the TVA’s cube-prison devices, which are used to trap (and even crush) enemies in a story in which Ravonna was involved as seen in Loki.
All this might seem tenuous. How do we get from here to Ravonna being revealed to be the Prime Kang, who all our heroes have to worry about?
There’s no direct route, really. But everything we do know (that the MCU is taking heavy inspiration from the comics for Ravonna in stories where she’s linked with Kang and that all the Kangs who we thought might be the real villain are now dead) hint towards the reveal.
Of course, there is one more hurdle to get past in order for all this to work. Ravonna Renslayer died in Loki season 2 epiosde 4. But that huge Loki cliffhanger also seemed to indicate that Loki, Mobius, Sylvie, and the rest of the crew were toast too. In order for the plot to progress, we’re willing to bet that some level of backward time-travel is going to be involved in order for Loki to prevent the destruction of the multiverse, and that’ll take us to a point where Ravonna is still very much alive, and waiting to step into Kang’s shoes.
For more on Loki, check out our feature on why Lokius should definitely happen, and learn how the Marvel timeline is so broken that even Miss Minutes can’t help. Or, see what’s new on Disney Plus this month before learning about what to expect from Deadpool 3.