What If…? is Marvel’s newest Disney Plus show, with the second episode available on the streaming service right away. Thanks to Loki, What If…? just became a very exciting concept. Everything in the show takes place in the multiverse, which means some of these superhero variants might appear in other Marvel movies or shows. While waiting for What If…? to arrive, I realized none of this would be possible without that brilliant Loki finale. In turn, Loki isn’t possible without the remarkable conclusion of the Infinity War saga. This pushed me to rewatch Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame — again.
It was all because of the multiverse angle that hovers over the MCU right now. We know it was a variant of Kang (Jonathan Majors) who arranged everything in the Sacred Timeline for Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) to reach him. That covers everything we saw in the MCU so far, including Infinity War and Endgame. That’s when I realized that the Loki and Endgame finale might be synced in the best possible way, and it’s so obvious that everyone missed it.
Understanding the Sacred Timeline in Loki
The Loki finale tells us how this timeline’s multiverse is set free. Unconvinced by Kang’s explanations, Sylvie betrays Loki and kills the show’s main antagonist. As that happens, we see the timeline starting to branch out in all sorts of places. It all happens in the past, present, and future, and the TVA cannot intervene.
We know from Disney Plus that Loki takes place after Endgame chronologically. But most of the events in Loki happen in a place that’s outside the flow of time. Whether it’s the TVA headquarters or Kang’s Citadel, time passes differently.
Kang’s Citadel at the End of Time is important to understand Endgame’s alternate realities after the Loki finale. Anyone in the castle, whether it’s Kang, Sylvie, Loki, or us, the audience, can see everything in the timeline at the same time. All the events happen at the same time from that vantage point. It all depends where you look.
It’s as if you’re in control of a unique television set. Each channel is a different event in time, but all the channels broadcast simultaneously. You can DVR it all and revisit each and every moment. And you can modify what’s happening on the screen in real-time with your handy TVA remote. From that point of view, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) reveals that he’s Iron Man in the movie Iron Man at the same time that a different variant tells Thanos in Endgame that, well, he is Iron Man.
How the TVA prunes alternate timelines
While Kang managed the TVA, the rules of keeping the Sacred TImeline were relatively simple. Loki episode 2 told us that the TVA couldn’t go back in time before a Nexus event. It has to act right after a variant made a choice that wasn’t in line with the accepted script.
Also, TVA agents have only a few minutes to prune the branch with those Reset Charges. If the branch extends beyond the red line, the alternate reality will continue growing.
This detail is important for the Endgame finale, which delivers a significant timeline branch that stays in place: The reality where Steve (Chris Evans) ends up with Peggy (Hayley Atwell).
The Loki and Endgame finales, revisited
The Steve-Peggy reality has been on my mind since Loki started laying out the multiverse rules. The TVA allowed Steve to stay back in time with Peggy and egoistically claim an entire timeline for himself. He might not have known what he was doing, although Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) probably explained to him very clearly that alternate universes exist.
Once I saw the Loki finale, I realized there’s a better explanation for the Steve-Peggy reality. The TVA wasn’t able to intervene. Steve and Peggy were lucky enough for their branch to start growing just as Sylvie was killing Kang. At that point, all hell broke loose at the TVA.
Once the Steve-Peggy branch reached the red line, it became an independent universe. And we know that the TVA did not prune Steve and Peggy because Steve got old, built a new shield, and brought it back to Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie). Maybe Kang wanted it that way.
To recap, the TVA would have had minutes to intervene after Steve opened the door to Peggy’s house. Let’s revisit that dance in the Endgame again.
How does the Loki finale begin? As I said back then, the Marvel intro is a beautiful tribute to everything we saw in the MCU so far. We get many fantastic voice cameos from the previous Marvel movies, and it’s easy to recognize the iconic lines and the characters they belong to.
But it’s all happening against the backdrop of a particular song, the one that’s playing during the Steve-Peggy dance. Here’s that intro again:
After rewatching Endgame, I think — I hope — I was wrong before. The Loki finale intro isn’t just a beautiful homage. The song could be the key element that allows us to establish the chronology of Loki events vis-a-vis Endgame.
What If the Loki finale starts just as Endgame ends?
The Loki variant in Marvel’s Loki series is the one who left the Sacred Timeline in 2012. That’s when time stops being relevant for Loki. We can’t establish the relationship between the events in Loki and the MCU because the TVA doesn’t experience the flow of time like the Sacred Timeline.
Sylvie made that clear in episode 3 when she revealed that she went back in time for hundreds of years in the memory of Hunter C-20 (Sasha Lane) to find something she could use. But Hunter C-20 was herself a variant of a young woman that lived on Earth during our modern times. The only way for her to live for hundreds of years without aging, or realizing, is at the TVA, where time doesn’t matter.
Ever since the Loki finale, I’ve wondered at what moment in the chronology of MCU events does Sylvie kill Kang. And it’s all in relationship with Endgame, which has two distinct branch reality problems. Aside from the Steve and Peggy reality, there’s also the 2014 Thanos reality with no Thanos (Josh Brolin). The TVA never pruned that Thanos, who left to the future.
Why have the same song in Endgame and Loki?
The Steve-Peggy song might have the key to everything. My theory is that, just as Steve visits Peggy for the dance, Loki and Sylvie prepare to enter the Citadel after having just enchanted Alioth. The song can be the connective tissue between those two universes. As for the voices we hear, well, remember the television analogy. They’re just events happening at the same time in different places on the Sacred Timeline as far as we, the audience in the Citadel, are concerned.
Steve and Peggy experience the regular flow of time, and they create the Nexus event that the TVA would prune. But we never get to that. Loki, Sylvie, and Kang do not experience any time. They could spend an eternity in that sad office discussing the multiversal wars, and the song would still be playing in Peggy’s living room. Sylvie then kills Kang, unleashes the multiverse, and the TVA never prunes the Steve and Peggy variants.
Not to mention that we’ve seen others use music to correlate chronologies before. Look no further than Christopher Nolan’s Inception. Let’s revisit the synchronized kick in the movie:
Marvel has everything carefully planned
Things don’t just happen in the MCU. They’re carefully orchestrated. That’s how it has always been. We just learned that the multiverse forced Marvel teams to work closer than ever to ensure that everything flows well between shows. And we learned that the multiverse impacts WandaVision, Loki, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Moreover, fans have observed that Marvel might have intentionally synced the WandaVision and Loki finales. It could all be just a coincidence. But it would be fantastic if that were truly the case. Having the Loki finale intro synced to the Endgame intro would be even better. Hopefully, that’s what Marvel thought all along. If not, they definitely should steal the idea.