We’ve only seen two episodes from Marvel’s newest MCU TV show for Disney+, but Loki is already more captivating than WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. It’s not just because fan-favorite Tom Hiddleston is back, reprising a role he mastered for more than a decade. And it’s not just because Loki is back from the dead, so to speak — the character died in Avengers: Infinity War, but a Loki variant escaped with the tesseract in Avengers: Endgame. It’s also because Loki will provide a few key answers to MCU mysteries, and it’ll also help outline the new rules of engagement for the next phase of MCU adventures.
The multiverse will play a significant role in Phase 4, and we expect at least two movies to tackle the subject very soon, including Spider-Man: No Way Home (December 2021) and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (March 2022). Loki will tell us exactly how time flows, how time travel works, and what we should expect from the multiverse. If the first episode already made that essential connection with Endgame and started exploring additional concepts about these topics, the second episode might have delivered a critical revelation that we could have easily missed when first watching the show.
The revelation might be all the more important for the Marvel film we want to see most this year, Spider-Man 3, as Loki might have just answered one of our biggest questions about No Way Home. Mind you, some major spoilers might follow below.
The premise of Spider-Man 3 is one of the worst-kept secrets in Hollywood. Sony and Marvel have not done a good job of concealing the fact that No Way Home will be a multiverse story involving Spider-Man and villain versions from the non-MCU movies — we’ve seen evidence time and time again that “ruins” this secret. Of course, the fact that we know Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire will join Tom Holland as different Spider-Men will not ruin the film. If anything, I can’t wait to see how everything unfolds, something I’d be hard-pressed to say about any of the previous Spider-Man movies.
But the fact that we’ll have three distinct actors playing the same character inside a multiverse is puzzling. What we saw in Endgame so far indicates that the characters from the primary timeline look exactly the same as the ones from alternate timelines. The same actors play them, after all. So why would we need Holland, Garfield, and Maguire to play three versions of Spider-Man? That’s question is even more interesting question if you’re already aware of rumors that say Robert Downey Jr. might play a different version of Tony Stark at some point down the road.
This is where Loki comes in handy. The first episode told us there’s a main Sacred Timeline and that the Time Keepers have a predetermined course of events for everything. The Avengers were allowed to travel back in time to beat Thanos, and everything we saw in the MCU was supposed to happen in this particular order. What’s not clear from episode 1 is whether the Sacred Timeline involves multiple realities flowing within acceptable margins of error, or if this applies to just one reality.
Episode 2 then showed us just how many Loki variants the TVA had to deal with already. It’s a hilarious scene that shows various versions of Loki, including one that looks like an abominable Hulk-Loki mashup. What matters here is that they’re all variations of the same character. They all have Tom Hiddleston’s face. It’s only late in the second episode that we learn of a Loki variant who looks nothing like Hiddleston. In fact, this Loki isn’t a man at all. Lady Loki (Sophia Di Martino) is the show’s first villain that we get to meet.
Picking up on this massive detail, Murphy’s Multiverse speculated that Lady Loki’s origin might not be what we think it is. Rather than coming from this Sacred Timeline that the TVA safeguards in the name of the Time Keepers, Lady Loki might come from the original multiverse.
That’s the multiverse that existed before the Sacred Timeline was established. The TVA’s video from the first Loki episode explained the chaos and madness that preceded the Sacred Timeline and those multiversal wars.
With that in mind, it would make sense to see different Spider-Man versions clash with Holland’s Peter Parker in No Way Home. Garfield and Maguire’s Spider-Men might be different because they come from a completely different universe, one that does not exist within the Sacred Timeline. Coincidentally, that’s exactly what’s happening in real life. Sony’s previous Spider-Man movies might be using all of Marvel’s characters, but they’re not part of the MCU chronology. Marvel is, in a way, the Time Keeper, and the MCU is the Sacred Timeline. Nothing else can interfere with it. And when it does, Marvel would still be in control of what happens next.
All of this is speculation at this point, and it’s all based on information gleaned from the first two episodes of Loki. Four episodes remain, and we expect Marvel to reveal even more about the rules of the multiverse. We also expect Loki to be linked to both Spider-Man 3 and Doctor Strange 2, and those links should be explained more clearly soon. Episode 3 will be available for streaming beginning Wednesday on Disney+.