If your social media feed is filled with people mentioning Zartan, don’t worry: there hasn’t been a sudden surge in popularity for G.I. Joe’s weirdest bad guy (as much as we wish that was true). Instead, fans are discussing the Zartan Contingent, something mysteriously mentioned at the end of Loki’s second-season premiere. This reference had even the biggest Marvel nerds scratching their heads in confusion, but don’t worry: we’re here to explain everything you need to know about the Zartan Contingent and where the show is likely to take this unexpected reference.
What Is The Zartan Contingent?
Intriguingly, the first episode mentions the Zartan Contingent by name only. It’s not even a spoken line of dialogue–the term simply appears in the ending credits for the first episode. But fans who grew up with long boxes of Marvel comics like we did have already started theorizing what this reference might mean for the future of Loki as well as the MCU as a whole.
As we noted before, you can throw out the idea that this might be a reference to the G.I. Joe villain Zartan–while he was at the center of many great Marvel comics back in the day, the film rights to G.I. Joe are currently owned by Paramount. However, the Zartan Contingent reference might indicate that the MCU is going for a different spelling of a cool group that has a special connection to The Eternals.
Zartans in Marvel Comics
In Marvel comics, there is a group known as the Xartans, and they were created by the powerful cosmic beings known as the Celestials. These alien beings have the ability to change their shape and look like anyone they want to. Confusingly, this is also an ability shared by the G.I. Joe villain, but these aliens can do something Zartan himself never could: if they copy the appearance of someone with superhuman powers, they can then use those abilities, making them very powerful foes or allies.
When it comes to the original Marvel comics, that covers all of the possible references to anything that might be referred to as the Zartan Contingent, and that exact term has never been used before in either the comics or the MCU. That leaves us to speculate about what this term might mean for the MCU, and there are several interesting possibilities.
The Potential Zartan Contingent In The MCU
For example, the Zartan Contingent may be referring to the Xartans of the comics, with a name change that will make it easier for fans to say their name (and for Disney to market their toys). The Eternals movie ended with our heroes stopping the Celestial who emerged from the Earth and then flying out to warn other Eternals of their secret purpose: to prepare other planets for the emergence of other Celestials. It’s possible the Celestials are going to send the Zartans to the planet to investigate where this rebellion began and then run afoul of Loki and the TVA.
Another possibility, assuming that the Zartan Contingent refers to the Xartans of the comics, is that these aliens might be allying themselves with Kang or working against the TVA. If they successfully take control of the TVA, they might be able to undo their embarrassing defeat on Earth (TVA tech allows them to circumvent normal time travel rules in the MCU). For that matter, the Celestials might have sent these aliens because they realized that controlling all of time would give them infinitely more power than controlling all of space.
The longshot theory about the Zartan Contingent is that it may refer to a person or organization that Sylvie works for. Some fans think that this person or group was responsible for pruning Loki and that it could be some future version of Loki doing this to his past self. If this is true, though, it’s unclear whether this would be the actions of someone evil trying to take a good guy off the board or perhaps even a penitent Loki wanting to erase his past crimes by taking away his younger self’s future.