I always favoured that rather than being DOOM’s descendant, Kang was actually descended from Tony Stark.
There have been some hints at this over the most recent years… particularly with Iron Lad being revealed as a young Kang.
But think about it. History frequently is lost to time. And sometimes history is rewritten by the victor (no pun intended).
In the far future, the plans for a time machine are found by a man who says he developed himself into first Pharoah Rama-Tut, and then the Scarlet Centurion…and then Kang the Conqueror. He believes that when he met Dr. Doom in Jovian space after FF #23, and before Annual #2, The Final Victory of Dr. Doom, he was meeting his ancestor…
But what if Kang is actually derived from Tony Stark, the futurist, the visionary, and possessor of the armour that becomes Kang’s suit someday?
What if the history books in the future incorrectly attribute the time machine which falls into Tony Stark’s hands or possession, to Dr. Doom? What if the correct interpretation of what the man who will become Kang finds is actually “Here are the plans that Dr. Doom used to create a time machine? We must preserve them and keep them from falling into the wrong hands of villains. This is my sacred trust and responsibility, as the richest man in the world, who can preserve the past, present and future best… Anthony Stark. Whosoever finds these plans among my things in the future, keep them from falling into a Conqueror’s hands. We must keep the Kang of the Conqueror from echoing through the years, changing things as he goes.”
This would mean that by trying to keep the plans safe, Tony ultimately places them into the library where the man who would become Kang finds them… and believes it was developed or built by his ancestor…who is really Tony, but he mistakenly thinks is Victor Von Doom.
We have seen how marvel changes history, revises what we know, plays with the facts of births and deaths, and has shown us complete “Lost Generations” that were erased with a slip of time travel.
Why couldn’t this Marvel Silver age history be the result of time manipulation by someone (Kang? Tony? Doom?) to change the timestream and try to stop Kang from doing something awful in the future.
Look at all the references to time travel by beings from the future that inhabit the first 16 issues of the original Avengers. We have the Space Phantom, Kang, Immortus, some space alien medusa, an alien pig race, the Lava Men, Count Nefaria and the Masters of Evil under Zemo, with the Enchantress manipulating time.
What if the original history of the Avengers never included finding Cap nor having the Hulk leave, and someone has sent time travellers again and again trying to disrupt Cap from being found or joining the Avengers. This would explain a lot of the time travel in this period. And it might explain why these guys keep attacking the Avengers over and over, but seem to stop about issue #15, with the death of Zemo and Cap taking over the Avengers.
Then we have Kang’s supposed connection to Doom, which was tenuous at best.
First, the ancestor wore a suit of armour.
Two, he was technologically advanced.
Three, he could afford lots of equipment.
Four, we have seen that Kang looks A LOT like Tony Stark when unarmoured.
Five, if the ancestor had ARMOUR, it doesn’t follow that it has to be Dr. Doom…could have been Iron Man.
Six, Tony has had several opportunities to acquire Doom’s time-machine.
Seven, history may have made some confusion between two armour suited major figures of the 20th century over the years.
Eight, Tony is the designing futurist who builds toward the future.
Think about it. It makes more sense that Kang is a descendant of Tony than Von Doom… though the confusion could be understandable after years of dark ages between our time and Kang’s future.
Plus, when unveiled, Kang looks a lot more like Tony Stark than Dr. Doom when un-suited.
It’s possible that Tony has yet to come into possession of Victor’s time machine, explaining how Kang comes across plans for the device in the future…and assumes that it is Doom that is his ancestor, not Tony… but he might have been wrong when he was Rama-Tut and leapt to the wrong conclusion in Avengers Annual #2…or FF #19, etc…
Also recall that when Kang is really serious about conquest, he’s tough to beat, but when he’s fighting the Avengers he holds back, trying to make it more competitive, because he admires them so much. Could this be further evidence that he is in fact Tony Stark?
I would further posit that the stories Michelinie & Lyton teaming-up Stark and Doom may provide a clue as to how Tony becomes Kang. During one of these adventures did he manage to obtain Doom’s time-machine and reverse engineer it, beginning his interest in time-travel leading to his eventual transformation into Kang? Given these adventures it is also interesting that upon becoming Kang he sets about conquering Camelot. What for I’m not sure but the implications are certainly interesting.
Also recall during the Crossing the mystery door in the basement of the Avengers Mansion only able to be accessed by Kang. This to me might be explained by the fact that of course he could come and go from Stark’s mansion as he pleased if he was the future version of Tony.
I would further posit that Kang being Tony Stark is evidenced through Kang’s front-organisation, Timely Industries.
For reasons never fully explained, Kang decided to conquer the 20th Century by gradually increasing the technology levels of civilisation.
Wouldn’t it be ironic if Stark, previously attempting to prevent others from getting hold of his technology (i.e. Armor Wars), later changes his mind and begins introducing components which made early, rare, atypical advances possible – such as components which Horton used on his Human Torch. Even decades later, Ultron was unable to manufacture duplicate components, and allegedly had to create the Vision from Horton’s spare parts.
Reed Richards even said he had used parts from Kang’s company for his inventions (perhaps for breaching the Negative Zone where Stark would later set up his prison).
Timely had been nudging Marvel’s technology forward since 1903! I remember Hank using ideas from the Dragon Man for Ultron, which would seem to suggest Dragon Man was based on Timely technology. In fact, to hear Kang tell it, EVERYTHING cutting-edge technology-related is a Timely product.
As for Kang’s interest in Mantis, do you think Tony came to understand her importance while he was stationed inVietnam? Did Tony stumble across the temple of the Priests of Pama while there?
How To Reveal It: Discovering his technology within the Vision, Golden Age Human Torch and Dragon Man, Stark steals Doom’s time machine to travel back in time and investigate Timely Industries.
During this story he runs across Victor Timely suiting up in Kang’s armour to fight off a number of ?. When he sees Stark he gets distracted and is killed by his assailants.
The assailants then leave via Doom’s time-platform and Stark unmasks the dead Kang to recognise an older version of himself.
Then trolling through Timely’s records he discovers that Kang has been attempting to build an empire to prevent Victor Von Doom performing a black magick ritual that will unleash creatures from the Outer Dark throughout time.
In an effort to perform this ritual Doom forges an alliance with Morgan Le Fay, hence why Kang travels back in time to prevent this from happening by conquering Camelot.
Realising that the only chance of preventing this impending “doom”, Tony realises he must don Kang’s armour and carry on his mission.
The tale would be akin to the 1991 DC Annual storyline where Hawk is compelled to become Monarch.