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These Were The Biggest Influences On Jonathan Majors' Performance As He Who Remains

"Loki" had only six episodes in its first season, but those six episodes were packed with an evil animated clock, Owen Wilson with a mustache (and a love of jet skis), planets getting destroyed, a female Loki named Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino), a Classic Loki (Richard E. Grant) in a 100 percent faithful Jack Kirby costume, a President Loki (Tom Hiddleston), a Boastful Loki (Deobia Oparei), a Kid Loki (Jack Veal) ... and of course, Alligator Loki. And yet, as Loki and Sylvie hurdled across time, through the Void, and victoriously bypassed the giant smoke dragon Alioth, the biggest question fans were asking (other than, well, what's up with the Thanos-copter?), was this — who is really behind the TVA, and what are they really after?

Once the hints started dropping, though, fans started paying attention. Pretty soon, viewers were guessing the proverbial big bad for "Loki" Season 1 was someone fans weren't originally expecting to see until "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," and that's the classic Avengers foe Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors). It turns out that the fans were at least partly right. Because while the character generally dubbed "He Who Remains" certainly is one variant of Nathaniel Richards — who, as Marvel fans can explain at length, has many different identities in the comics, including Kang, Immortus, and Scarlet Centurion — this particular version of Richards wasn't technically Kang, even if he was most assuredly played by Jonathan Majors. 

Coming out of the "Loki" season finale, there was a lot of talk about Majors' wild — yet unsettling — performance. It turns out, Majors had some very specific characters and performances from the past in mind when he prepared to give the speech that explains why He Who Remains is working to keep the multiverse in check.

Jonathan Majors became the "Wizard" at the end of time

First, a quick refresher: as established in the "Loki" season 1 finale, "For All Time. Always," the figure referred to as He Who Remains knows everything (up until a point, at least). While chilling at the Citadel at the End of Time, He Who Remains has reached a point of such supreme understanding that he literally hands Loki and Sylvie a script of everything they're about to say. And the reason He Who Remains knows everything is because he kind of has to, at least in his opinion. He's keeping a potential multiverse at bay because, when the multiverse did exist, most of the various universes went to war with one another — and from what he says, these wars were primarily waged between different versions of him. That's why He Who Remains is called He Who Remains — he wiped out all the other versions of himself, and their corresponded universes, to keep the peace.

All of which is to say that He Who Remains is ... well, kind of a weird guy. He's been alone, literally watching time tick by, keeping the seconds in order, and that has made him a little stir-crazy, to say the least. And to get a sense of how such a person might behave, Majors looked to other brilliant but offbeat characters from films in the past, to influence his characterization of this Nathaniel Richards variant. 

"Some cultural pop references were, of course, 'The Wizard Of Oz,' 'Sunset Boulevard,' 'Citizen Kane,' 'Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory,'" Majors revealed at the end of the "Loki" episode of the Disney+ documentary series "Assembled" (via Empire Online).

However, don't expect future variants of this character to behave the same way.

The next 'Kang' variant will be very, very different

"The archetype of the wizard and what happens to him when he gets bored and he becomes a trickster," Jonathan Majors says, of how he envisions He Who Remains when Loki and Sylvie meet him. "He's on the borderline of those two things. You don't really know where he's at. And I think the ambiguity of that is one of the wicked things about it."

While He Who Remains may be a wizard, a trickster, or something in-between, he did warn that his variants were far more dangerous. And if you know about Kang the Conqueror, Immortus, or any of the others from the comics, these words are very ominous. During the same interview, Jonathan Majors implied that future versions of this character might be far less playful. "[A]s Kang begins to rear his head and do his deeds," Majors said, "in so many ways he has no choice but to be in opposition or to be different from He Who Remains [...] That was the thing that grabbed me and pulled me into the role –- the fact that Kang lives in so many iterations. As He Who Remains said, 'Reincarnation, baby.'"

Truly, He Who Remains seems almost ambivalent about whether or not the multiverse is kept at bay — he just seems ready to stop holding the reigns after so long. If anything, when he says "See you soon" to Sylvie after she kills him, He Who Remains seems almost gleeful, knowing the multiverse is about to burn anew. A trickster, indeed.

The entire first season of "Loki" is available to stream on Disney+ now.