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You might not even realize why Marvel’s villain reveal in ‘Loki’ was so brilliant

Published Jul 17th, 2021 4:29PM EDT
Loki Villain Explained
Image: Marvel Studios

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The first Loki season ended its run with “glorious purpose” earlier this week, transforming the show into one of Marvel’s best MCU stories so far. From the first episodes, it was clear that Loki is by far the best MCU TV series made for Disney+. But Loki is also better than many Marvel movies. The finale delivered the final pieces of the puzzle for Loki’s second redemption arc. More importantly, it offered us the final details for one of the main themes in Phase 4, the multiverse. Finally, the Loki finale delivered a huge surprise in terms of revealing the villain. It’s not just a Thanos-grade villain that we saw on Wednesday. It’s something far more dangerous than Thanos could ever be. Before you read any further, we’ll warn you that several spoilers follow below.

Puny Thanos

When Avengers: Infinity War premiered in April 2018, we realized just how excellent Marvel’s big villain is. Marvel teased Thanos (Josh Brolin) for years before we got to know the character. He appeared in post-credits scenes that indicated something more significant was afoot. But it wasn’t until Infinity War and then Endgame that we got to really see and understand Thanos.

The Mad Titan turned out to be Marvel’s scariest villain so far. He was also the best Avengers antagonist we saw since the MCU’s inception. Thanos is the complex villain that a story like Endgame needed, unlike anyone who preceded him.

It was after Endgame we realized that we’ll miss Thanos now that he’s dead. We wanted more of him in the MCU, given how formidable a villain he turned out to be. But then came the big Loki villain reveal in the finale that shocked us. Kang (Jonathan Majors) wasn’t just a cameo. He dominated the finale, giving us the plot twist that we wanted. And the Kang reveal turned Thanos into a distant memory.

Avengers: Infinity War - Thanos
Screenshot from Avengers: Infinity War: Thanos using the Infinity Gauntlet. Image source: Marvel Studios

Thanos is no match for Kang

Mind you, the Kang we saw in Loki isn’t even a real villain compared to the other Kang variants we’ll see down the road. He’s a better version of them, an Immortus-like being who tries to save at least one Sacred Timeline from multiversal destruction. Even if that means having the TVA destroy every deviation from the predestined path.

Thanos is a massive threat without the Infinity Stones. The Avengers made considerable sacrifices in Endgame to beat him in battle. Give him the Infinity Stones, and he’s almost unstoppable.

But Kang, with his ability to control time and weaponize Alioth, is in another league. Kang doesn’t need the Infinity Stones to wreak havoc in the universe. Remember that the Stones have no power at the TVA. That’s also something Kang managed to pull off.

Everything in the main reality happens with Kang’s blessing. It’s Kang who let Thanos get the Infinity Stones, and it’s Kang who allowed the Avengers to beat Thanos later.

Loki Episode 6
Kang (Jonathan Majors) in Loki finale. Image source: Marvel Studios

Why the Loki villain reveal is so brilliant

We’ve already explained that the Loki finale turns everything upside down. We have to question everything that has happened so far. Endgame becomes a huge lie for the audience as everything in it followed Kang’s playbook. Thanos was never going to win. And Steve’s beautiful dance with Peggy might be a direct result of the events in the Loki finale.

But the reason the villain reveal in Loki is so amazing is that it fixes the problem with Thanos. Thanos got too little screentime in the first three phases. We wanted more of him after Infinity War and Endgame. Marvel must have realized that having a strong villain in the MCU is critical for the story. But the audience has to meet that villain a few times before a massive cross-over like Endgame.

Kang gives Marvel that option. Thanos is the massive boss you meet at the end of a key chapter in a video game. But Kang is the boss you meet at the end of the game — and everywhere in between. Kang might have died in Loki, but he isn’t really dead. We’ve only experienced one obnoxious and slightly crazy version of him, which Majors played beautifully. We have yet to meet the other Kangs who are guaranteed to be more villainous. This gives Marvel ample opportunities to run bigger character arcs than before for the next major Avengers villain. And it offers Majors the chance to provide us with all sorts of exciting Kang variants moving forward.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.