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How Kang the Conquerer could be related to Reed Richards, Doctor Doom, or both

Is Marvel’s Kang the father of Reed Richards, or a distant descendant?

Image credit: Marvel Studios

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has entered the Multiverse Saga, and its main villain has been introduced. Kang the Conqueror is the MCU’s next big bad, and it’s clear he’s got big plans. Jonathan Majors played a variant of the evil timelord in the Disney+ series Loki, and now he’s menacing the Quantum Realm on the big screen in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Kang has arrived, but does his presence in the MCU hint at the arrival of another hero?

You might have heard rumors about Kang’s relationship to Reed Richards, the Fantastic Four superhero known as Mr. Fantastic. What is Kang’s relationship to Reed Richards? Are they father and son, or is Kang a distant descendant of the scientist? There are even theories that Kang might be related to the iconic Marvel villain Doctor Doom. The true answer might seem complicated, but this handy explainer will break it down for you.

Are Reed Richards and Kang related?

Rama-Tut meets the Fantastic Four
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Does Reed Richards share a bloodline with Kang the Conqueror? The short answer is yes, Kang is a distant descendant of Reed’s father. The long answer is a bit more complicated, but I’ll help you make sense of it. The relationship between Mr. Fantastic and Kang the Conqueror has changed depending on the writer, or when a particular comic has been published. Throwing in time travel and alternate universes has also clouded things.

Kang was introduced in Fantastic Four #19 (1963) as the villainous Rama-Tut. The Fantastic Four encountered Rama-Tut when they time traveled back to ancient Egypt. Initially it seemed that Rama-Tut was another power hungry pharaoh, but his futuristic technology pointed to his true origins. Like the Fantastic Four, Rama-Tut was a time traveler. The villain explained that he had come from the year 3000, which lacked any threats, excitement, or adventure. Seeking to add some thrills to his life, Rama-Tut traveled back in time, hoping to use his future technology to enslave humanity.

The story heavily implies that Rama-Tut might be a distant descendant of Doctor Doom, one of the Fantastic Four’s foes. Ben Grimm takes the theory even further by suggesting that Rama-Tut might be Doom himself, from another point in the timeline. Rama-Tut’s first appearance doesn’t hint at any familial relationship with Reed Richards. In fact, Rama-Tut takes Sue Storm captive and attempts to marry her. If he was a descendant of Reed, the implications of that move would have been unfortunate.

Rama-Tut becomes Kang

The origin of Kang
Image credit: Marvel Comics

After the Fantastic Four toppled Rama-Tut’s Egyptian empire, the former pharaoh attempted to return to the year 3000, but he accidentally overshot by a millennium. Rama-Tut found himself in a post-apocalyptic wasteland filled with remnants of scientific marvels and advanced weaponry. Rama-Tut used the futuristic technology to remake himself as Kang the Conqueror. Kang made his debut in Avengers #8 (1964), traveling back to the 20th century to try his hand at world conquest. The time traveling villain became a frequent foe of the Avengers, and the Marvel Universe at large.

Fantastic Four #273 was the first comic to suggest a shared bloodline between Mr. Fantastic and Kang. The Fantastic Four journey to a post-apocalyptic alternate Earth to find Reed’s father Nathaniel Richards. Nathaniel had traveled to the world known as Earth-6311 a decade earlier, and used his scientific knowledge to help rebuild the fractured society. During that time he married a woman named Cassandra, and had a child named Arthur.

Reed enjoys an emotional reunion with his father, but Nathaniel decides to remain on Earth-6311. Nathaniel tells the Fantastic Four that he wants to continue helping to rebuild the planet’s fractured society, and that he owes it to his son Arthur to ensure that he has a prosperous world to grow up in. The epilogue of Fantastic Four #273 flashes forward to the year 3000, showing us that Nathaniel succeeded.

The epilogue retells Rama-Tut’s origin from Fantastic Four #19, depicting him as a citizen living in the prosperous future Nathaniel helped create. The implications from this were huge, since it meant that Kang was actually from Earth-6311’s version of 3000. This meant that he hadn’t just come from the future, but he had also come from another Earth. The epilogue contained another starling revelation. As Rama-Tut searched through Nathaniel Richards’ old stronghold, he said the structure and the inventions in it belonged to his ancestors. This implies that Kang was a distant descendant of Nathaniel Richards.

Marvel can’t decide if Kang and Reed are related or not

A young version of Kang takes a DNA test to see if he's related to Reed Richards
Image credit: Marvel Comics

The revelations from Fantastic Four #273 were addressed when Kang recounted his origin in Avengers #269 (1986). The new version of Kang’s backstory includes references to Nathaniel Richards and the alternate Earth that he helped rebuild. Although Richards isn’t directly named, Kang’s flashback and description of his ancestor clearly match the recent Fantastic Four storyline. The connection was as explicit as it could be without using Richards’ name.

What If #39 (1992) appeared to put the issue to bed once and for all. The Watcher recounts Kang’s origin, and he explicitly states that Kang is a descendant of Nathaniel Richards. This issue also reveals Kang’s name for the first time, Nathaniel Richards. Near the end of the issue, a younger version of Kang compares his blood to variant of Reed Richards. The DNA test confirms that the two come from the same bloodline.

This should be the final word on the matter, but Avengers Annual #21 (1992) revealed that Kang had faked the results of the DNA test. However, the story left things ambiguous, noting that it was still possible that Kang and Richards were related. Avengers Forever #9 (1999) featured another flashback to Kang’s origin. This version of the story had Kang investigate his family history, but in the end he was unsure if he was a descendant of Doctor Doom or Nathaniel Richards.

Fantastic Four #35 (2021) seemingly resolves the issue once and for all. Kang and his timeline variants build a fortress in the Neverspace, a realm hidden within the space-time continuum. The fortress is built with a security system that only allows members of Kang’s bloodline to enter. Reed Richards infiltrates the fortress, disguising himself as a Kang variant named Scion. After revealing himself to the various Kangs, Reed informs them that their shared bloodline allowed him to bypass their security system. This appears to finally close the book on the mystery of Kang’s relationship to the Richards clan.

How exactly do I describe the relationship between Kang and Reed?

Council of Kangs gather
Image credit: Marvel Comics

If you’re still trying to make sense of things, the bottom line is that Kang is a descendant of Reed Richards’ father. Some readers mistakenly refer to Kang as a descendant of Reed, but that’s incorrect. As Fantastic Four #273 (1984) established, Kang is a descendant of the family Nathaniel Richards started after he migrated to Earth-6311. While Kang is related to Reed, he’s a descendant of Reed’s half-brother Arthur. It’s a minor semantic, but one worth noting.

Think of it this way, you share a bloodline with your uncle, but you’re not his descendant. This makes Rama-Tut’s lusting for Sue Storm in Fantastic Four #19 (1963) slightly less creepy (but still gross), since she isn’t a blood relative. Kang’s origins on Earth-6311 have also caused some readers to say he’s a descendant of an alternate version of Reed Richards. That’s not an accurate description either. While Kang grew up on an alternate Earth, he’s related to the 616 version of the Richards family. Blame Nathaniel Richards’ interdimensional travel for that bit of confusion. The bottom line, if anyone ever asks, just say that Kang is a distant descendant of Nathaniel Richards, the father of Mr. Fantastic.

Who is Reed Richards’ father?

Reed Richards' father
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Reed’s father is Nathaniel Richards, a time-traveling scientist. Like his son, Nathaniel has an appetite for adventure. However, Nathaniel can be morally ambiguous at times, keeping secrets from his family members, and manipulating events to serve his needs. He was introduced in Fantastic Four #272, where it was revealed that he had travelled to Kang’s alternate Earth for a scientific exhibition.

Fantastic Four #35 (2021) revealed that Nathaniel died off-panel sometime after his last adventure with his son. However, we haven’t seen a body, and Nathaniel has been known to disappear before. Perhaps Reeds’ father has another trick up his sleeve.

Because Nathaniel Richards and Kang share a name, there has been some confusion over whether they are the same person. Reed’s father is also a time-traveler, which has caused some readers to speculate Kang might be Nathaniel Richards from another point in the timeline. Doctor Doom #6 (2020) directly addressed this theory, with Doom saying he heard a rumor that Kang was Reed Richards’ father. Kang denies the rumor, stating that they look nothing alike.

Is Kang related to Doctor Doom?

Doom meets Rama-Tut
Image credit: Marvel Comics

There have also been questions about Kang’s relationship with Doctor Doom. When Rama-Tut was introduced in Fantastic Four #19, he mentioned finding blueprints from a time machine left by one of his ancestors. Since Doctor Doom had previously used a time machine in Fantastic Four #5 (1962), Reed assumed he was the ancestor Rama-Tut had referred to. Ben Grimm built on that by theorizing that Rama-Tut was a time-displaced Doctor Doom.

Rama-Tut had a brief encounter with Doom in Fantastic Four Annual #2 (1964). In that issue, Rama-Tut outright stated that Doom was his ancestor. Despite this claim, Doom still speculated that the pharaoh was an older version of himself that had traveled to the future. Rama-Tut appeared to buy into this claim, speculating that they were the same person. This was a fun Silver Age moment, but it ignores the fact that if they were the same person, at least one of them would have already experienced this encounter.

Avengers #269 revisited the scene from Kang’s point of view. During a flashback, Kang reveals that everything he told Doom in Fantastic Four Annual #2 was a fabrication meant to manipulate the villain. However, Avengers Forever #9 revisits the Doom/Kang connection once again. During a flashback to Kang’s origins, Nathaniel Richards is seen going through his ancestral records. According to Richards, some of his files seemed to indicate that Doctor Doom may have been his ancestor after all.

For now the theory remains unproven. Although Kang’s connection to the Richards’ bloodline has been settled, that doesn’t mean he can’t be related to Doom as well. There are plenty of centuries between the original Nathaniel Richards and Kang, and it’s possible Doom somehow weaved into the family tree during that period. To further complicate matters, Nathaniel Richards (Reed’s father) once claimed to be the biological father of Kristoff Vernard, Doctor Doom’s adopted son. It’s possible that the Kristoff connection is the reason Kang believes he might be a descendant of Doom.

Is Kang related to Ant-Man?

Kristoff meets Cassie Lang
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Okay, you’re not going to believe this, but it’s entirely possible that Kang and Scott Lang are related. As I noted earlier, Nathaniel Richards claims he’s the father of Kristoff Vernard. Kristoff is a young boy from Latveria, the country ruled by Doctor Doom. After the death of his mother, Doom adopted Kristoff and made him his heir. For a time Kristoff was brainwashed into believing that he was the real Doctor Doom.

After a few skirmishes with the Fantastic Four, Kristoff eventually became an ally to the team. This coincided with Scott Lang’s tenure with the Fantastic Four, which meant his daughter Cassie was also hanging around. Cassie and Kristoff were both the same age, so they became fast friends. Kristoff developed a crush on Cassie, much to Scott’s chagrin.

As the characters have grown older, the crush has developed into a full on romance. We don’t know what the future holds, but if Cassie and Kristoff were to marry, that would combine the Richards and Lang families. In other words, Kang would be related to Scott Lang through marriage.

Another interesting wrinkle in the Ant-Man/Kang connection is the Iron Lad and Cassie Lang romance. Iron Lad is a teenage version of Kang from another point in the timeline. The young variant of Kang didn’t want to grow up to become a villain, so he adopted the identity of Iron Lad and joined the Young Avengers.

During Iron Lad’s time with the group, he and his teammate Cassie Lang developed strong romantic feelings for one another. The two eventually shared a kiss, but a grand love story for Cassie and young Nate Richards was not in the cards. Is Cassie destined to end up with Kristoff or Nate? A union between either boy would result in Kang and Ant-Man becoming relatives. Marvel has never addressed this connection, but with the characters coming face to face in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, it’s a fun piece of trivia to consider.

Are Kang and Reed Richards related in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Image credit: Marvel Studios

Both Kang and Reed Richards exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but as of now there is no confirmation that these versions of the characters are related. A multiverse variant of Mr. Fantastic was seen in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) played by John Krasinski. Although the character mentioned a wife and kids, he didn’t mention anything about his father or any other potential descendants.

A Fantastic Four movie is currently slated to be released by Marvel Studios in 2025. As of now, Reed Richards has not been cast. John Krasinski has indicated that he believes his role was a one-time appearance, and because he was playing a multiverse variant, he isn’t expecting to come back.

Kang has appeared in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023), and a variant of him appeared in the Disney+ series Loki (2021). It’s worth noting that neither version of the character introduced themselves as Nathaniel Richards. The end credits for Quantumania credit Jonathan Majors as playing Kang, not Nathaniel Richards. Although various press reports have identified Majors’ character as Nathaniel Richards, the name was not used in either Loki or Quantumania.

Perhaps Loki season 2, or another MCU project will reveal Kang’s real name. It’s also possible that Marvel Studios might choose to give him a name other than Nathaniel Richards. It wouldn’t be the first time the MCU has changed a characters name, or who they’re related to. For example, in Quantumania the villain M.O.D.O.K. is Darren Cross, who took on the Yellowjacket mantle in the first Ant-Man film. This is a departure from the comics, where M.O.D.O.K.’s real name is George Tarleton.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) revealed that Star-Lord was the son of Ego the Living Planet. This is a switch from the comics, where Peter Quill was the son of the Spartax ruler J’son. In other words, there is no guarantee that the MCU version of Kang will be related to Reed Richards. He might even be a descendant of another existing MCU character.

Don’t forget, Marvel Studios will be releasing Avengers: The Kang Dynasty in 2025. Perhaps the title is a hint of what’s to come. The word dynasty could be referring to Kang’s bloodline. Is it possible that Avengers: The Kang Dynasty is secretly a Fantastic Four movie? Now that Kang has entered the MCU, there is an opportunity to use him to introduce the Fantastic Four and Doctor Doom. Stay tuned to Popverse, as we continue to track Kang’s rise in the MCU, and if it will lead to any Fantastic Four sightings.

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Joshua Lapin-Bertone avatar
Joshua Lapin-Bertone: Joshua is a pop culture writer specializing in comic book media. His work has appeared on the official DC Comics website, the DC Universe subscription service, HBO Max promotional videos, the Batman Universe fansite, and more. In between traveling around the country to cover various comic conventions, Joshua resides in Florida where he binges superhero television and reads obscure comics from yesteryear.
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