Disney Plus’ latest Marvel series Loki concluded its first season in an explosive ending that set up the Marvel Cinematic Universe for its first animated TV show, What If…? In the season finale, we finally learned who leads the Time Variance Authority and why he’s placed such a firm grip on the multiverse.
In this article, we’ll be breaking down exactly who the Time-Keeper is in the series, his relation to the Marvel comics, and how his actions might affect the recently announced second season of the show.
Be warned, the following article includes major spoilers for Loki’s finale.
Who is the Time-Keeper in Loki?
In season one’s final episode, Loki and Sylvie encounter a man that appears to have knowledge of the timelines. He has the ability to travel between them, and he anticipates what will happen in the near future. While he may appear human, this mysterious character isn’t your normal human being.
As he explains, his connection to time travel expands much further than simply creating the Time Variance Authority.
Officially credited as “He Who Remains” during Loki, the Time-Keeper in the series is Nathaniel Richards, an alternate variant of Marvel villain Kang the Conqueror. This is evident both due to the powers he showcases on screen, and the fact he refers to himself as “the Conqueror” during the episode.
In Loki, Kang has a similar backstory to that of the comics, having been a human scientist in the 31st century who uncovered universal travel and ventured to an alternate universe to greet himself. With the Kang’s from these universes learning about each other and the travel between them, a war broke out. This war only ceased after Richards harnessed the power of the beast Alioth, who is capable of consuming time and space itself, as well as creating the TVA to manage the sacred timeline.
With Richards in control of the sacred timeline, he is able to keep the various versions of himself away from conquering the multiverse. The Time-Keeper hints that if he is killed, then Kang “is gonna fill that void” and, potentially, start invading timelines for multidimensional domination.
Sure enough, after He Who Remains is killed by Sylvie, the sacred timeline is broken, and the universes begin to splinter off from one another. This creates an infinite number of realities, ushering in a Multiversal War between the various iterations of Kang out in the world.
At the end of season one, Loki sees a statue of Kang in the TVA library, implying one of He’s variants has successfully won the war.
Who is Kang the Conqueror?
Kang is drastically different in the comics, where he serves as one of The Avengers’ most consistent foes.
The time warlord is a distant relative of Mister Fantastic, Reed Richards’ father, existing in the 31st century as the human Nathaniel Richards. After being exiled from the timeline by the Fantastic Four, Kang returns after conquering Earth. He then sets out to conquer the galaxy in the past, present, and future so he may create his own temporal kingdom.
In the comics, Kang is first introduced as a true villain, whereas the Time-Keeper in Loki seems far more concerned with keeping the rest of the Kang’s at bay.
Who played He Who Remains in Loki?
In the show, Kang was portrayed by American actor Jonathan Majors. Fantasy fans may be familiar with Majors from his lead role in HBO’s series Lovecraft Country. Some of his other starring roles include 2019’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco and 2020’s Da 5 Bloods.
We’ll see Majors return to the MCU in season two of Loki, but he is also rumored to have an important role within the upcoming sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantamania. Given the massive changes coming to Phase Four from Sylvie’s actions in the Loki finale, expect Kang to play a larger role outside the series in the coming movies and shows ahead.