How does the MCU’s Kang have the power to rewrite existence and shatter timelines?

Kang in 'Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania'
Image via Marvel Studios

The trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania has Marvel fans very excited as the trailer suggests that this film will play a massive role in the overall MCU plot moving forward. One of the most tantalizing moments of the new trailer shows Janet Van Dyne describing Kang’s powers by saying that he can “rewrite existence and shatter timelines,” suggesting that this movie will shake up the entire Marvel timeline. 

But how does Kang have this power? And is it one he has in the comics? 

Can Kang rewrite timelines in the comics?

In the comics, Kang the Conqueror has an infamously messy personal continuity due to the character’s interactions with time travel and the multiverse. Meaning there are many variants of Kang walking around, most of whom have made several trips back and forward through time.

However, there are several examples of Kang (or one of his many alternate personas) altering the timeline, usually by trying to stop or change an event that had already happened via manipulation of other tangentially linked events. For example, in 1971’s Incredible Hulk #135, Kang sends the Hulk back to the First World War, hoping that Hulk’s actions would stop Bruce Banner’s birth and thus the formation of the Avengers. 

More recently, in 2005’s Young Avengers storyline, Kang fiddled with his personal timeline, going back to save a teenaged Nathaniel Richards from bullies. Kang hoped that he could convince Richards to become Kang earlier in the timeline, giving him more time to take over the world. However, this plan backfired and led to the formation of the Young Avengers.

Kang would attempt something similar in 2012’s Uncanny Avengers. He tried to change the future by kidnapping the Apocalypse Twins, a pair he believed would threaten his future reign. Kang raised the twins as his own children and went back to 1013 AD to alter the past, hoping he could guarantee his future empire. However, this scheme didn’t go as planned for Kang, denying him his position as ruler of time. However, while comics Kang has shattered timelines, this isn’t an innate power of his. Instead, Kang changes and destroys timelines by altering the events within them or by using the powers of another person or object. 

Does Loki hint towards this power?

He Who Remains, an alternative version of Kang, was previously seen at the end of the Loki series. This character was in charge of maintaining the Sacred Timeline, using the Time Variance Authority as his personal army. During his conversation with Loki and Sylvie, He Who Remains shows them a script that details their actions in the future. Showing that everything within the Sacred Timeline is controlled by He Who Remains. While viewers are not shown how He Who Remains creates this script, it heavily implies that He Who Remains, and thus Kang can “rewrite existence” in some manner. 

During Loki’s storyline, we see the TVA using Reset Charges to prune alternate timelines created by Nexus events. These bombs send the timeline to the Void at the end of time. These bombs, or technology like them, would fit the “shatter timelines” part of the statement, as they are used to remove a timeline from existence. If you watched someone use a Reset Charge and didn’t know what the explosive actually did, you would presume they are destroying, rather than teleporting, the timeline.

Plus, while talking about his personal history, He Who Remains says that one of the first variants of himself he met was a scientist who shared his technology with He Who Remains. So, it stands to reason that a scientist who could break the multiversal barrier could create technology equal to or superior to the tech used by the TVA or Ant-Man. So Kang’s powers may be more advanced variations on the gadgets seen during Loki and the previous Avengers movies. This could, in theory, include an advanced version of the time travel technology seen in Avengers: Endgame.

One interesting thing to note is that the energy fired from Kang’s suit in the Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania trailer is the same color as the shattering timeline seen in Loki. Could Kang’s weapon be channeling the energy released by the timeline fracturing? Or could this weapon be destroying timelines to fuel itself? Marvel fans will have to wait for the film to release to find out.