The MCU Missed An Opportunity To Set Up Its Best Kang Replacement One Year Ago

Carol Danvers' Captain Marvel in Ms. Marvel with He Who Remains in Loki

Marvel Studios could have introduced the perfect replacement for Kang the Conqueror in the MCU in 2023’s The Marvels, but wasted this opportunity with more teases to the Mad Titan, Thanos. As the sequel to 2019’s Captain MarvelThe Marvels marked the return of Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers, who joined forces with Teyonah Parris’ Monica Rambeau and Iman Vellani’s Kamala Khan to battle a dangerous Kree villain who threatened the entire universe. The Marvels advanced the overall narrative of the MCU’s Multiverse Saga more than many other projects, so could have addressed confusion regarding this chapter’s overarching antagonist.

Jonathan Majors debuted as Kang the Conqueror variant He Who Remains in 2021’s Loki season 2, and returned as new variants in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Loki season 2, setting him up for a huge future as the Multiverse Saga’s primary villain. However, after Jonathan Majors’ 2023 arrest, conviction, and subsequent firing from Marvel Studios, Kang the Conqueror’s future in the MCU is uncertain. This means that a new villain may be introduced to replace the multiversal antagonist, and this could have happened in The Marvels in the MCU’s Phase 5, but Marvel Studios fumbled this opportunity.

The Marvels’ Setup Meant It Would’ve Been Perfect For Annihilus

Annihilus yelling in Marvel Comics

Setup for The Marvels in prior MCU projects could have teased the introduction of Annihilus into live-action. Most notably, the post-credits scene of Ms. Marvel’s finale saw Captain Marvel and Kamala Khan switch places, similarly to Marvel Comics’ Captain Mar-Vell and Rick Jones. In Marvel Comics, these heroes were connected through their use of the Nega-Bands, which were connected by an interdimensional bond. By using the Nega-Bands, Mar-Vell and Rick Jones couldn’t exist in the same world at the same time, meaning while one was on Earth, the other became trapped in the Negative Zone, which is Annihilus’ domain.

Mar-Vell and Rick Jones switching locations resembles the switch between Carol Danvers and Kamala Khan at the end of Ms. Marvel, which was displayed again in The Marvels. This could have posed the perfect opportunity for Marvel Studios to finally bring the Negative Zone into the MCU, after several years of suspected teases, and this could have introduced Annihilus as a powerful replacement for Kang the Conqueror. After debuting in Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four Annual #6 in 1968, Annihilus became one of Marvel Comics’ most powerful and terrifying villains, so it’s a shame that he hasn’t yet been introduced.

Dar-Benn’s Story Could’ve Tied To MCU’s Annihilus Setup Without Changing Its Story

Dar-Benn fighting the Marvels in The Marvels

The Marvels debuted Zawe Ashton as Kree villain Dar-Benn, a former Starforce member who became the self-proclaimed leader of the Kree civilization after Captain Marvel destroyed their AI overlord, the Supreme Intelligence. Dar-Benn sought to bring water, air, and sunlight back to the Kree homeworld, Hala, by stripping other worlds of these necessary resources. While this was a fairly simple villain storyline for The Marvels to explore, Dar-Benn’s actions could have been tied directly to Annihilus, allowing the iconic villain to finally make himself known in the MCU, perhaps replacing Kang the Conqueror for the remainder of the Multiverse Saga.

It could have been revealed that Dar-Benn may have been taking energy from the Negative Zone to save the Kree homeworld, similarly to how the Ancient One and Kaecilius used power from the Dark Dimension back in 2016’s Doctor Strange. This would have made her villain arc much more complex, and would have presented the perfect chance for Annihilus to make his MCU debut. This could have set up more extravagant and expansive cosmic storylines for the MCU’s future, perhaps cementing heroes, including the Guardians of the Galaxy, Adam Warlock, and the upcoming Nova, for huge stories in the future.

Dar-Benn’s Bigger Villain Ties Were Wasted On Thanos Teases That Went Nowhere

Thanos relieved at the end of Avengers Infinity War

While The Marvels may have set up the perfect chance for Annihilus to be brought into live-action, teases for the Phase 5 movie actually teased a strong connection to the MCU’s Infinity Saga villain, Thanos. Josh Brolin’s Thanos was set up throughout the Infinity Saga, making appearances in The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Avengers: Age of Ultron before setting out on his grand plan in Avengers: Infinity War and EndgameThanos’ plan to bring balance to the universe was teased to be continued in The Marvels’ trailers, setting up Dar-Benn to continue his mission.

The Marvels’ trailer featured Thanos stating “my work is inevitable. There will always be more to finish it” while Dar-Benn was introduced on-screen, teasing a direct connection between the two villains.

Thanos and Dar-Benn share similarly philanthropic traits, as Thanos wanted to wipe out half the population of the universe to spare resources for the remainder, while Dar-Benn wanted to bring life back to her homeworld. However, these connections are tenuous at best, and Dar-Benn was certainly not thinking on the magnitude of the entire universe in The Marvels. Thanos was killed twice in Avengers: Endgame, and hasn’t appeared in live-action since, so it’s curious as to why he is still being teased as a threat in the MCU, when other significant villains could be set up in his wake.

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