FULL SPOILERS AHEAD
Arrow episodes are on hold this weekend so I can make it all about Loki, the latest Disney+ MCU show! “But wait,” you may be saying, “didn’t Loki debut on Wednesday?” Well, yes, you’re right. Talking about shows on the weekend was set up on this blog thinking all new episodes of Disney+ shows would go live on Friday, but then they decided to throw a curveball and have Loki drop the same day weekly comic books do. I’m sticking to show reviews going up on Saturday for this series, but if the next one also drops on Wednesdays–signs point to it being What If…?–I’ll probably be forced to rethink stuff. But enough about that, let’s talk about the implications of Marvel’s newest show!
Loki‘s first episode, “Glorious Purpose,” opens with a recap from Avengers: Endgame: Loki (Mr. Tom Hiddleston) gets captured, but the 2023 Avengers botched grabbing the Tesseract/Space Stone, so he was able to escape with it. He ends up in Gobi Desert, but before he can stir up more trouble some time cops show up to arrest him. They’re from the Time Variance Authority–mostly referred to as the TVA–and they charge Loki with the crime of deviating from the Sacred Timeline. Through some comedically exaggerated bureaucracy, Loki and the audience learn the supposed truth of the MCU, as told to us by an animated clock voiced by Tara Strong:
“Long ago, there was a vast multiversal war. Countless unique timelines battled each other for supremacy, nearly resulting in the total destruction of, well, everything. But then, the all-knowing Time-Keepers emerged, bringing peace by reorganizing the multiverse into a single timeline, the Sacred Timeline. Now, the Time-Keepers protect and preserve the proper flow of time for everyone and everything. But sometimes, people like you veer off the path the Time-Keepers created. We call those ‘Variants.’ Maybe you started an uprising, or were just late for work. Whatever it was, stepping off your path created a nexus event, which, left unchecked, could branch off into madness, leading to another multiversal war. But don’t worry, to make sure that doesn’t happen, the Time-Keepers created the TVA and all its incredible workers. The TVA has stepped in to fix your mistake and set time back on its predetermined path.”-Miss Minutes
Well, that’s an important information dump. While on trial we learn that the Avengers didn’t incur the wrath of the TVA because their time travel was supposed to happen, which… okay, sure. Loki then meets with Mobius (Owen Wilson), a TVA agent who shows some of Loki’s timeline as it was suppose to happen–specifically his actions in Thor: The Dark World that got his mother, Frigga, killed. Loki manages to escape, because of course he does, but while grabbing the Tesseract he finds out that the TVA has numerous copies of the Infinity Stones, and that none of them work in this pocket reality, or whatever it is. Feeling a little demoralized and apparently wanting more bad news, Loki then watches the rest of his timeline: Odin’s death in Thor: Ragnarok, Thor and Loki becoming close in the same movie, and Loki’s death by Thanos at the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War. Remember, this isn’t the Loki who was killed by Thanos, but the version of the character immediately after The Avengers who has none of the character development that the Loki we followed through those movies had. Mobius shows up and gets a possibly real answer from Loki: he doesn’t want to hurt people, but does so because it makes him feel strong. That’s when Mobius offers Loki a job hunting down a particularly dangerous Variant that has thus far escaped capture. The thing is, that Variant… is Loki! Dun dun DUNN!!
Oh, and it was revealed that Loki was actually DB Cooper in a moment that sure seems like it was made exclusively for the trailer. Ask your parents who that is.
Well this started a fire in my brain. So there’s supposedly only one timeline? Meaning the multiverse as it appears in the comics–Earths with a wide range of differences–doesn’t exist? The multiverse does exist, as it was brought up several times in Doctor Strange, but that appears to be more like alternate realities that don’t resemble Earth in ways we would recognize, a la the Dark Dimension. Talk about “nexus events” and “branch off into madness” sure seems to tie into the commercials from WandaVision–remember that one was for an antidepressant called Nexus–and the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Here I was thinking that Wanda would be responsible for the multiversal shenanigans that upcoming movies are supposed to have–word on the street is that Spider-Man: No Way Home will include Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus (from Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man 2 trilogy) and Jamie Foxx as Electro (from Andrew Garfield’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2)–but now it’s looking like Loki may break reality and create the multiverse. In character, so I’m for it.
Before I get to baseless speculation, it’s my duty to talk about the Time Variance Authority in the comics. First appearing in Thor #371 (1986), it was a parody of Judge Dredd, complete with the first agent we see being named Judge Peace. Subtle! Judge Peace’s mission was to stop Zaniac, an evil entity that would possess people and go on a serial killer rampage; for reference, Jack the Ripper was said to be a host for Zaniac, so that’s a thing. Peace and Thor fail to stop Zaniac from killing Jane Foster, but they fix their mistake due to some time travel shenanigans. The TVA would next show up proper in Fantastic Four #352 (1991), looking more like the bureaucratic exaggeration we see in Loki (and The Umbrella Academy, more or less). Issue #353 was the first appearance of Mr. Mobius M Mobius, so there’s an additional fun fact. In the show they have some dark implications, specifically with their ability to “reset the timeline.” We don’t see what this entails, but they leave behind a device called a “reset charge,” and from the brief glimpse we get of what it does, I think it might actually destroy the entire splintered timeline. Oh, hey, that’s a good segue to baseless speculation!
The apparent “big bad” of this series is some incarnation of Loki, jumping through time, setting ambushes for TVA agents, and stealing their reset charges. We don’t actually see Loki’s face, leading me–and a lot of other people–to speculate that this might be Lady Loki. See, in the comics, there was a storyline where the Asgardian gods were reincarnated into new bodies, and in Thor #5 (2008) Loki stole the one meant for Sif. This would start a trend of Loki being identified as genderfluid, something the Loki show alludes to by listing Loki’s sex as “fluid.” There are two women credited with being in the show who haven’t appeared or been named yet–Sasha Lane for 2 episodes and Sophia Di Martino for 5, as of time of writing–so that has led a lot of people to speculate that this show will keep the character of Loki around, but give Tom Hiddleston a break. Then again, Richard E Grant is also cast but unnamed, so maybe it’s Ikol? Or we could get kid Loki and continue the Disney+ shows setting up Young Avengers characters. Those are a whole can of worms I’ll deal with if they happen, but just know that comic books are dumb.
Other than Lady Loki, this show sure seems to set up Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, much like WandaVision did. After all, according to the TVA, there is no multiverse of alternate Earths that, say, a grieving mother could search through to find the souls of her dematerialized sons. Plus, there’s the upcoming What If…? animated Marvel series that is predicated on the idea that there is a multiverse where things like T’Challa becoming Star-Lord or Peggy Carter getting the super soldier serum could happen. All I’m saying is don’t get too attached to the TVA, because it sure looks like that organization may get destroyed by Loki. We shall see!
Next: The Variant
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