He's not called the God of Mischief for nothing.
Tom Hiddleston's Loki has had his fingerprints on many of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's most memorable moments, but the trickster's greatest impact came in his self-titled solo series. Loki's introduction of the Time Variance Authority, the Sacred Timeline, and He Who Remains shook the MCU to its core.
With the TVA bent on maintaining the Sacred Timeline, branch realities were immediately pruned by the organization's Minutemen. While not all branches meet the pruning threshold, major changes to the Sacred Timeline alert the TVA that interference is needed. With this logic in place, fans pointed to one of the MCU's biggest moments breaking the TVA's rules: Cap's dance with Peggy.
Avengers: Endgame concludes with Steve Rogers fulfilling his century-long promise to Peggy Carter, as the now-former Captain America shares a dance with her inside their home. Old Man Cap in the present day reveals he sought out "some of that life" Tony told him about, making it clear that the dance was not a one and done.
If that's the case, how did a 70-year marriage not get on the TVA's radar?
DID CAPTAIN AMERICA AND PEGGY GET PRUNED?
Isn't that the question of the day?
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Direct, Loki director Kate Herron offered her impassioned perspective on Steve Rogers' potential breach of the Sacred Timeline.
"So! I’ve been thinking about this (laughs). I’m just like [so excited]... People are going to be annoyed because it’s not a definitive answer, but also I can only really answer as a fan, right? My theory is this: It comes down to if you’re an optimist or a pessimist. If you’re an optimist, maybe it was okay [for] them living that way, and the branch wasn’t so severe that it didn’t need to be pruned, and that meant that they could stay together. Maybe the romantics can say somehow that managed to exist. And then the pessimists [think], ‘They probably got pruned (laughs).'"
Herron elaborated on her theory, noting there's a real chance that Cap and Peggy's marriage was able to stay below the TVA's breach threshold.
"It depends on how people fall on that side of things, because in my head I guess it would be... generally branches have to be pruned and then maintained, right? But it depends. Like if it’s alternate, it would imply that it’s running alongside our main timeline, so yeah. I don’t want to definitively say that they were pruned, but by our logic in the TVA, probably. But maybe where there’s a will there’s a way, and they weren’t too disruptive and managed to live happily ever after."
THE ENDGAME NEXUS EVENT
The conclusion to Avengers: Endgame remains a loose thread, but if tugged on, it has the potential to unravel a plethora of problems.
Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo have publicly stated that they believe Cap "created an alternate reality" when he lived out his days with Peggy. On the other side, Endgame co-writer Christopher Markus has said he "rejects the 'Steve is in an alternate reality' theory," noting he believes "there is simply a period in world history from about '48 to now where there are two Steve Rogers" instead.
If Cap's life with Peggy was part of He Who Remains' Sacred Timeline, Herron's optimistic perspective holds real weight. Old Man Cap's existence in present-day implies that he was allowed to safely live out his days beneath the TVA's branch threshold, but at the same time, the TVA's existence outside of time leaves nothing truly set in stone. Fans have pointed to a potential Peggy Carter cameo in Loki's first episode, leading to speculation that she was taken into TVA custody shortly after her dance.
Even if this broke the TVA's branch threshold, He Who Remains might have let it slide. The Time Heist needed to be executed to perfection in order to completely defeat Thanos, including returning the stones to their respective timelines. He may be relentless, but he's the kindest version of his "evil" Variants. For this reason, He Who Remains might have let Steve live out his days with Peggy as a reward for completing the Time Heist.
The open-endedness of the last dance's potential consequences gives the MCU an abundance of avenues to stroll down. With the directors like Herron just as speculative as the fans are, it looks like these types of theories will continue for all time, always.
All six episodes from Loki's first season are streaming now, exclusively on Disney+.