The first thing to know about Kang the Conqueror, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s final boss du jour, is that there are a million of him. Loki’s first season successfully imparted that fact with He Who Remains, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe underscored it since in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
But Loki’s second season brings a very different version of Kang to the screen, and producer Kevin Wright says that’s exactly the point.
[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for Loki season 2, episode 3.]
Episode 3 introduces Victor Timely, first teased in a credits scene of Quantumania, a struggling Black inventor (and maybe conman?) debuting his Time Loom prototype at the Chicago World’s Fair. This, apparently, is the humble beginning of the man who’d go on to be a multiversal tyrant and found the Time Variance Authority to police his own timeline.
According to Wright, that play against expectation has been the plan from the very beginning, in a “30-page document” he’d penned for Marvel Studios’ internal use, “and also to get Tom [Hiddleston] excited.”
“Once you set the stakes — and season 1 was so much setting of stakes: The multiverse is out there; war is coming. This really awful bad guy is going to be coming that Loki is afraid of, and if Loki is afraid we’ve got to take that threat seriously — it’s very fun as a storyteller to then go in the opposite direction. You’re expecting the worst; some sci-fi villain from the future. And the next version of this guy to pop up in our story is coming from the past, and he’s just sort of a eccentric, quiet inventor that maybe is, like, a bit out of time and out of place.”
Who is Victor Timely in Marvel comics?
Victor Timely (as you might expect) is a name of some minor comic book Kang consequence. Publicly an inventor, minor industrial titan, and founder and mayor of the town of Timely, Wisconsin, Victor Timely was just Kang in disguise. In the comics, Timely was an identity Kang built for himself after traveling from the far future back to the 20th century, in a scheme to establish a seat of mundane power in that time period, for the purposes of conquering the age of superheroes that was to follow.
And Loki’s Victor Timely is certainly reminiscent of another Marvel Comics aspect of Kang: He wasn’t always a conqueror. Or... isn’t always a conqueror, or won’t always be a conqueror? Suffice to say, Kang’s time-traveling ways have allowed Marvel superheroes a look at his whole life, including his do-gooding teenage superhero from the future era as Iron Lad, and his timeline protecting old age under the name of Immortus.
That tension is alive in Loki: Is this Victor Timely destined for later tyranny? Or is he already a bad guy and putting on a very convincing act?
“There’s something about that world and that character dynamic that was fun,” said Wright, “But also exciting. Can Loki trust this guy? It pushes a lot of buttons for Sylvie; if she will be able to trust him, knowing what she knows. It gave us a lot of cool character drama to play with, while also letting us go to the Chicago World’s Fair, which was very exciting. And Wisconsin! Who doesn’t want to time travel to Wisconsin?”