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Here’s the biggest problem with ‘Loki’ – and no one’s talking about it

Published Jun 28th, 2021 12:03PM EDT
Loki Spoilers
Image: Disney

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Marvel’s new series Loki has been a thrilling ride so far. With three episodes already played out on Disney+, we now know a lot of things about the Time Variance Authority (TVA) and what it does to help the Time-Keepers govern time. We also know the TVA needs Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to help them fixed what appears to be the biggest challenge to maintaining the Sacred Timeline within the designated boundaries. And we know that plenty of time travel is needed to explore the TVA’s dealings with erratic variants like Loki and maintaining the fragile equilibrium of the time. But plenty of information remains hidden, and Marvel has quite a few mysteries to solve before the show is done.

One of them is a potentially glaring plot hole that Marvel might need to address at some point in the near future. Before we go any further, I’ll offer you the usual warning that massive Loki spoilers will follow, so you’d better watch the first three episodes before reading any further.

While watching WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, I noticed “plot hole” issues that I hoped the script would address by the end of the series. In WandaVision, I was surprised nobody was calling for more Avengers to intervene and help fix whatever went wrong with Wanda. Ultimately we saw White Vision (Paul Bettany) appear, though he isn’t quite an Avenger yet. And we expected Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to show up in the final episode, but that scene was supposedly cut. We might still learn at some point why the Avengers were not involved in dealing with Wanda.

Then in Falcon, the script went out of its way not to address Steve Rogers in the present tense. Sam (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan) did bring up Steve quite a few times, without actually wondering how old man Steve is doing in the post-Thanos present. It took a while until Sam gave us a hint that Steve isn’t in this reality by referring to him as “gone” rather than dead.

Thor: Ragnarok
Idris Elba playing Heimdall in Thor: Ragnarok. Image source: Marvel Studios

This brings us to Loki’s potential plot hole. Without further ado, it’s Heimdall. Played by Idris Elba in previous Thor movies, Heimdall died heroically in Infinity War, sending Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) back to Earth in what proved to be a decisive tactical decision that ultimately led to beating Thanos.

Heimdall is one of the Marvel characters who we haven’t seen enough of. But what we saw is enough to make us realize that if there’s one character in the MCU who might have some advance notice of the TVA and the organization’s alteration of the timeline, that’s Heimdall.

Heimdall sees and hears everything. We shouldn’t take that literally, as that would be a massive sensory overload. But he can see and hear across time and space, depending on what’s needed of him. So he would be the kind of person who would notice Loki variants diverging from the pre-approved flow of time. He would have no idea they’d be variants, but he would see some of them being kidnapped through those time doors by the same forces. Heimdall could have saved Loki with the Bifrost right then and there.

We know the TVA has had to deal with quite a few Loki variants so far, so the higher the number of Lokis they’ve had to reset, the better the chance of Heimdall having witnessed at least one of these TVA encounters as they happened. The most likely scenario is the Battle of New York in Marvel’s first Avengers movie. If there’s one battle that Odin would want Heimdall to keep tabs on, it’s the one involving both of his sons.

Heimdall would have surely seen Loki escape after that failed Time Heist in Endgame, and he would have seen Loki getting arrested by mysterious forces.

The TVA does reset time branches with those special Reset Charges. But, as we learned already, the charges have a limited range. Would they also alter Heimdall’s experience of seeing Loki get taken away? Would that entire reality branch implode into the main one, so Heimdall’s experience seeing the TVA would also disappear? What if the TVA had to reset a Thor or Odin in the past? Also, would Heimdall ever see Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) mess with the timeline? These are the kind of questions Marvel multiverse stories might have to address because things can only get worse.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) in Loki episode 3. Image source: Marvel Studios

What if Heimdall searched for a Loki one day and found two of them. One would be acting as expected according to the timeline’s rules. The other one would wear a human suit working somewhere else with mysterious agents/armies. That hasn’t happened yet in Loki, and the writers made sure of it by being careful with the time-traveling that has occurred so far.

When Loki goes back to test his cataclysm theory with Mobius (Owen Wilson), he appears in 79 AD. Loki wasn’t alive back then, so Heimdall wouldn’t have looked for him. Thor is over 1,500 years old, and Loki is his little brother. In episode 3, Loki and Sylvie jumped accidentally to Lamentis in 2077, which is nearly 60 years after Heimdall’s death.

But it can get even worse. The TVA knows about Heimdall’s powers, and the organization might choose to use him to find a Loki fugitive hiding in a cataclysm that coincides with Heimdall’s life. This sort of unfortunate event would actually create another Nexus variance, with the TVA being to blame for messing with the timeline by revealing to Heimdall who they are. All of that could be reset, of course. And this is the sort of fringe scenario that wouldn’t even have to happen, given the TVA’s far-reaching powers.

Loki head writer Michael Waldron did say that everything they came up with to explain time travel and the multiverse rules would pass the smell test. And so far, there are ways to explain why Heimdall isn’t aware of the TVA or why the organization had to reset so many Loki variants in the past. Not to mention that we saw Heimdall’s Bifrost in action in the first episode, so they touched on this particular Asgardian already.

But who knows what time periods Loki, Sylvie, and Mobius will visit next, where the mere existence of Heimdall would be the kind of loose end that needs fixing.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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