Kang the Conqueror is MCU’s next big supervillain. Well, technically, supervillains, as we’ll get numerous versions of Kang from various timelines of the multiverse. So far, we’ve seen at least two: the He Who Remains version in the Loki series and the one in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, with scars on his face. So, why does this Kang have them, and where did he get them?
While the origin of Kang’s scars in the MCU isn’t disclosed yet, the comics provide an answer. In Kang the Conqueror #1, young Nathaniel Richards is mentored by a future version of himself – Kang and gets the markings on his face after saving a tribal girl from a T-Rex in prehistoric ages.
The marks are given to him by the tribe’s elder, but Kang is infuriated that Nathaniel fell in love with this girl, as the whole point of training a younger version of himself was to prevent such mistakes. So, he slaughters the entire tribe in front of Nathaniel. Now, the MCU will likely take a different approach with the scars, but it could set up a new big character… Let’s dive deep!
Why does Kang have scars on his face in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania?
The first time we saw Kang the Conqueror in the MCU was in Loki Season 1. There, Jonathan Majors portrayed He Who Remains, a version of Kang responsible for essentially everything happening within the universe.
It’s where Loki and Sylvie learned that everything happening in their lives was scripted and that free will was merely an illusion created by none other than himself, He Who Remains. Was that actually true, however? That’s a topic for another day.
The reason why we’re here today is to discuss an important issue – or rather, a change – that’s clearly evident between He Who Remains and Kang that we saw in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. He Who Remains is kind of bubbly, quirky, and clearly has no scars on his face.
On the other hand, this Quantum Realm version of Kang seems much more serious and warrior-oriented and has two distinct scars right across his face. Some might think that Kang got those scars in the meantime, but the truth is much simpler. Or, more complicated, actually, depending on how you look at it.
The reason why Kang has scars on his face in Ant-Man 3 is that it’s a totally different version of Kang. He is not the same Kang we already saw in Loki. Remember, He Who Remains talked about the multiverse and countless other versions of Kang coming to swarm this particular universe and timeline. The Quantum Realm Kang is only one of those versions.
So, if you’re asking why this particular Kang has scars on his face, the answer is probably to help the audience distinguish this version of Kang from other versions that are likely to come in the MCU – including the version we saw in Loki.
Now, if you’re asking how he got those scars – that’s a whole different question and a whole different answer.
How did Kang get scars on his face?
The two scars across Kang’s face in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania look quite severe but almost surgically symmetrical. We don’t have an answer on how exactly he got those scars in the MCU, and it remains to be seen if it’ll even be addressed.
However, Marvel Comics has an answer about those same markings on Kang’s mask and how he got them. And the story is actually quite heartbreaking.
In Kang the Conqueror #1, we get to learn the origins of Kang, which kind of set to explain why he is who he is. In the 31st century, young Nathaniel Richards is bored in his own time and space, where he’s well-off and has no worries. But, he then meets Kang – a grown-up version of himself from the future, who came back in time to try and train himself in the ways of villainy.
The two travel back to prehistoric times when dinosaurs ruled the planet. Kang teaches young Nathaniel valuable lessons, but the most important rule is to promise never to ever fall in love. Of course, that’s exactly what happens.
Nathaniel meets Adi, a young, beautiful, prehistoric tribe girl, and he inadvertently saves her from a T-Rex. He earns gratitude from her tribe, and the tribe’s elder awards him with honorable markings across the face – hence, the blue markings weren’t actually scars in the comics but rather painted by Adi’s tribe.
Seeing that Nathaniel failed to follow the rules and fell in love with Adi, Kang gets incredibly enraged and refuses to save Adi and her tribe from the incoming meteor apocalypse. Instead, he slaughters her and the entire village the day before the meteor strikes.
Nathaniel is devastated and heartbroken, and in a fit of rage, he steals Kang’s suit and leaves him to die from the meteor strike as he travels back into the future. Eventually, Nathaniel Richards removes the blue markings on his face, but Kang always had them later on his mask.
It’s unknown if he wore them as a tribute to Adi or as a constant reminder never to let his feelings get in the way again.
As for the scars on the face of MCU’s Quantum Realm Kang, we actually have no idea how he got them, and as I’ve said, I’m not sure if it will ever be addressed. Perhaps the sole purpose of those scars is to help us distinguish this version of Kang from others while giving a nod to the comics and Kang’s recognizable appearance.
That being said, there might be more to those scars than meets the eye…
How does this shape the future of the MCU?
Time is no issue for Kang the Conqueror – which is why he was such a huge threat to the Avengers throughout Marvel Comics and also why he became one of their greatest foes.
However, it seems that the Quantum Realm version of Kang is stuck there for some reason – he has the vessel and the technology to travel across the Quantum Realm and various timelines, but he needs Pym Particles to get out. That’s why he’ll need Scott Lang in this movie.
I’m saying this to you because this might just be the perfect way for the MCU to shape its future in terms of introducing a new, incredibly important character – Nathaniel Richards.
In the comics, Richards traveled back from the prehistoric era and left older Kang there. He went on to become a superhero instead of a supervillain, as Kang wanted him to become. Nathaniel became Iron Lad, the leader of the Young Avengers.
In Ant-Man 3, it’s evident that the Kang variant in the Quantum Realm isn’t the Nathaniel Richards/Iron Lad version. However, seeing all the different versions of Kang commencing a Kang Council in the post-credit scene, I believe everything is leading up to the introduction of the Young Avengers leader into the MCU.
I mean, just look at what we have so far. There’s Kate Bishop, aka Hawkeye (portrayed by Hailee Steinfeld), Eli Bradley, aka Patriot (portrayed by Elijah Richardson), America Chavez, aka Ms. America (portrayed by Xochitl Gomez), and Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel (portrayed by Iman Vellani).
That’s basically the whole core Young Avengers lineup – all we’re missing is their leader, Nathaniel Richards, aka Iron Lad – and I bet that he’s getting introduced into the MCU sooner rather than later and lead the future generation of the franchise along with the others I’ve mentioned above.