The “Kang Dynasty” storyline took place through Avengers (vol. 3) #41-55, and the Avengers Annual 2001. True to its name, it features Kang the Conqueror establishing his dominion over the entire Earth with the help of his son Marcus – who took up the mantle of the Scarlet Centurion. The Avengers join forces with the respective forces of the United Nations to try and stop Kang, but the Conqueror is well-prepared. Not only does he possess technology from the future, but he also has a major weapon in the form of Damocles Base – a massive, sword-shaped spaceship with enough firepower to put the Death Star to shame. He even hijacks a fleet of mutant-killing robots known as Sentinels to serve him!
Eventually, the Avengers surrender after a failed space attack seemingly results in the death of many of their members. However, the Avengers who went to space encounters a mysterious being named the Master of the World, who has technology that can counter Kang’s. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes manage to launch a counterattack against the Conqueror. This leads to one of the biggest moments in the comic, where Kang summons a massive holographic image of himself. Captain America counters by summoning his own holographic image, and the two do battle. Eventually, Kang is taken into custody and is saved by Marcus. Kang, however, winds up killing his son and expresses disappointment that Marcus didn’t try to take over his empire – before revealing that he has cloned his son, in a seemingly endless campaign against the Avengers.
The Kang Dynasty is an epic in every sense of the world, spanning over two years and involving many classic Avengers. The various artists attached to the title at the time, including Alan Davis (Excalibur), Ivan Reis (Superman), and future Uncanny Avengers writer Rick Remender, truly brought a cinematic flair to their work. It’s also the storyline that marked the end of Kurt Busiek‘s tenure on Avengers. During his run on Avengers, Busiek and a host of artists – most notably the late, great George Perez – truly elevated the Avengers to the position of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”. The Kang Dynasty is the perfect example of Busiek’s craft, as every Avenger gets a chance to shine and Kang’s conquest feels like it has true life and death stakes.
In fact, The Kang Dynasty being adapted into film continues the trend of Avengers films pulling from Busiek’s work. Avengers: Age of Ultron owes a great deal to “Ultron Unlimited”, the Busiek/Perez storyline where the genocidal A.I. Ultron launched his deadliest attack against the Avengers. The Avengers Forever miniseries features the Avengers traveling through time, with its influence being heavily felt in Avengers: Endgame. And Thunderbolts, the upcoming film featuring a team of Marvel’s supervillains, takes its name from a comic co-created by Busiek. In short, Kurt Busiek may be one of the most influential comic creators where the MCU is concerned.
The Kang Dynasty has also cemented Kang as the MCU’s next Big Bad following Thanos, especially as Jonathan Majors is slated to reprise his role as the time-traveling villain in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. With director Peyton Reed hyping up Quantumania as the beginning of Phase 5, it’s safe to assume that Kang’s actions will carry over into The Kang Dynasty. And with Secret Wars being hinted at in Loki and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, The Kang Dynasty will more than likely serve as the first half of a two part story similar to how Avengers: Infinity War led into Endgame.
Even more recently, Deston Daniel Cretton was revealed to helm The Kang Dynasty. Not only does this mark Cretton’s continued involvement with the MCU following the success of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, but it also may hint at who will appear in the new roster of the Avengers. Carol Danvers, aka Warbird, was a major player in the Kang Dynasty storyline as she took out Damocles Base. That’s not even mentioning the fact that Brie Larson, who plays Carol/Captain Marvel, has appeared in every one of Cretton’s films to date. Having Carol as the leader of the Avengers would continue to mark the MCU’s trend of building up a new generation of heroes.
Avengers: The Kang Dynasty will come to theaters on May 2, 2025.