The MCU can easily introduce one of the best variants of Kang the Conqueror, but they should take their time to do so. Kang finally debuted in live-action, played by Jonathan Majors, in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, after first playing his variant, He Who Remains, in the riveting Loki season 1 finale. While some aspects of the Multiverse Saga have been controversial, Majors’ performance has remained a high point.
It may feel out-of-step that an Ant-Man film introduced the Multiverse Saga’s big bad, but what’s even more surprising is the end result. Some expectated that Kang would win and even kill Scott, yet it was Kang who died, presumably. Nevertheless, Majors will still be continuing on as a major player in the unfolding saga. In fact, he’s already returning as soon as Loki season 2 as another version of Kang, Victor Timely, who is far more than he might seem. This all opens the door to the ceaseless possibilities of the Kang Dynasty.
Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania Perfectly Set Up Iron Lad’s Introduction
In addition to Victor Timely, the first post-credits stinger for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania revealed the next threat facing the MCU’s heroes – the Council of Kangs. This was the group responsible for Kang’s exile in the Quantum Realm, and unlike the reality before He Who Remains’ death, these Kangs are all working together. Among the leading ranks are Immortus, Rama-Tut, and an enigmatic third Kang, who is likely Scarlet Centurion. One of the major versions of Kang still missing is Iron Lad, and thanks to this post-credits scene, he has a clear open invitation to finally join the MCU.
Iron Lad first debuted in 2005’s Young Avengers #1 and is a young version of Kang, who, upon learning of his villainous future, traveled back in time to avert it. Using his futuristic tech, he models himself off Iron Man and begins a new life as a hero, yet the pull to Kang is strong. In the MCU, he can easily come into play soon as the sole detractor to the Council of Kangs, working to unite the disparate heroes against his other selves. Most likely, if he is introduced, it will be in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, but even Armor Wars or Fantastic Four are also viable options.
Why The MCU Shouldn’t Rush Iron Lad
Iron Lad has extraordinary potential within the MCU, but he can’t be rushed. While he can and should certainly come into play as part of the Council of Kang’s endeavors, his arc needn’t share the same fate. Presumably, the Council will be the main antagonists for Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, and Prime Kang – the one from Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania – may be back somehow. However, Iron Lad’s story can extend far beyond that point. It’s narratively rich to learn more about Kang and how his younger self operates differently, especially after the villain’s presumptive defeat.
Naturally, Iron Lad is integral to the Young Avengers’ introduction in the MCU, something they’ve been steadily building to since WandaVision and the commencement of the Multiverse Saga. In fact, he formed the group in the comics to oppose Kang. He also developed a significant romantic relationship with Cassie Lang, and following Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, that deserves to be explored in depth. It’s interesting to contemplate how she would work with the younger version of the man who tried to kill her and her family. These sentiments can only be exacerbated now with the Council of Kangs threatening her reality.
Most significantly, the MCU already has a lot on its plate regarding disparate storylines. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania set up plenty for Phases 5 and 6 that will lead into Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars. While they should introduce Iron Lad, they shouldn’t rush him and cover his arc solely within this time frame. It will get lost in the muck and suffer, and the character deserves more than being a sidelined afterthought.
A Young Avengers Project Shouldn’t Come Until After Avengers: Secret Wars
Overall, the MCU is clearly signaling that they’re preparing for a Young Avengers project. It could fall right in line with the comics with Iron Lad forming the team to stop Kang – perhaps after Avengers: The Kang Dynasty if the Council utterly defeats the Avengers, and the young heroes need to pick up the pieces. That being said, a Young Avengers project, whether a film or Disney+ series, should wait until after Avengers: Secret Wars. Just speaking logistically, Phase 6 is only missing three movies. Two of those have already been announced – Armor Wars and Shang-Chi 2 – but their status and release dates are unconfirmed.
Young Avengers doesn’t seem likely, as Phase 6 already has three legit team-up films with the Avengers movies and Fantastic Four, so this might be too much. The team can certainly form or be teased more explicitly over the course of the Multiverse Saga, but a Young Avengers project’s best potential, like Iron Lad’s, is best left for the next saga. Plus, they’re still waiting on a few more key players like Hulking and Noh-Varr, and even Wiccan and Speed need to return aged-up.
A post-Avengers: Secret Wars, Young Avengers would be a great way to bridge between Kang and the Multiverse Saga and whatever comes next. By focusing on familiar yet fresh perspectives in a new team-up, which Phase 4 established as the standard now, it can provide a comfortably stable center while the MCU expands exponentially with the Fantastic Four and X-Men coming into play. There’s great potential for the Young Avengers in the MCU and Iron Lad can play a pivotal role in their formation and journey, but they should still take their time with it and savor the opportunity.
This story originally appeared on Screenrant