The introduction of the Time Variance Authority in Loki altered the very fabric of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From Miss Minutes' explainer about the Time-Keepers to He Who Remains' revelations about the Sacred Timeline, Loki brought the concept of free will to the stand each and every week.
Couple those major events with the Minutemen pruning branched timelines and erasing Nexus Events on the regular, questions rose on if anything in the Infinity Saga was truly unscripted.
While the jury is still out on whether everything in the MCU was pre-determined destiny, creators from behind the camera have their own bold interpretations of the big picture.
DID KANG SCRIPT THE INFINITY SAGA?
For the first time in the MCU's 13-year history, Marvel Studios is asking fans to forget everything they know.
In an exclusive interview with The Direct, Loki director Kate Herron offered her perspective on He Who Remains' involvement in the Infinity Saga. Based on Loki's rules, Herron says she believes the Kang Variant did script everything in the MCU up until the season finale.
"I suppose well, by our show's logic, yes, because he says like, ‘I paved the road, you just walked down it.’ I guess in theory, yeah, he would’ve scripted that because by our show that’s what we’re saying. Everything has been predetermined by this one character, even if up to this point we’ve believed the characters have had free will. Which I think is kind of the fun rug-pull of our show, right?"
Herron expanded her thoughts, noting she has major praise for Loki's script being willing to take the MCU to another level:
"I remember even when I read the first script, I was like, ‘What?! The Infinity Stones are in a drawer? What the hell?’ I was just like, ‘What?!’ But in a good way, right? Because it shows the TVA is this whole new power, and that’s what you want with storytelling."
Even though the Time Variance Authority thinks they are the ultimate power, there are still concepts they are completely wrong about. It's storytelling techniques like this that gets Herron excited about the future of the MCU.
"Even in the basic thing right, it’s like our timeline, the TVA thinks time is straight, and actually it’s not. It’s a circle in the end. I think that’s always the fun thing with any MCU project. I hope with the rest of this phase right, that it will keep subverting our expectations. That’s going to push the story forward, really."
On top of the TVA being in the dark, Herron emphasizes that He Who Remains is not as all-knowing as he seems.
"I do believe that moment [when they pass the threshold], he is telling the truth where he’s like, ‘We’re in completely unforeseen time now. I don’t know what’s going to happen.’ Because there’s an interesting discussion at hand."
He Who Remains is uncertain of the future in that moment, but Herron believes he has some idea of what is about to happen. Herron points to a subtle nod to Jonathan Majors' character's final words from Episode 4 that indicates he's played out every scenario past the threshold in his head.
"When the head’s cut off from the middle Time-Keeper, it does whisper, ‘See you soon,’ which is the very last thing he says to Sylvie. But, my theory, how I interpret it anyway, is that he says he’s gone through every possible scenario. So he probably has an idea of what would happen if Sylvie won the fight, or if Loki won the fight, but he can’t quite predict it. He can’t write that, because obviously they’re their own people. In my head like, I’m like, ‘Oh, I think he planned to say that to her, if that happened.’ That’s how I see it."
LOKI's PHASE 4 IMPLICATIONS
In short, Kang has already surpassed Thanos on the Avengers-level threat scale. Shoutout Mysterio.
If He Who Remains did script the entire Infinity Saga, meaning Tony Stark was destined to die and 1 in 14,000,605 was actually one in one, the conquering time-traveler usurps the Mad Titan as the ultimate evil in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Does that tarnish the Infinity Saga? As Herron points out, it might just be a necessary evil.
Opening the show by relegating the Infinity Stones to paperweights sure was a "what the hell" moment, but as Herron emphasizes, "it shows the TVA is this whole new power." If He Who Remains and his TVA was a lesser force than Thanos and the Black Order, what's the point?
In order to "push the story forward," the next big threat has to bring something bigger than the Infinity Gauntlet to the table.
That aside, both He Who Remains and the TVA not having a full grasp on what they're dealing with brings a looming heir of unpredictability to the MCU as it forges ahead. If the past decade has taught fans anything, it's that "[subversion] of expectations" that has made the MCU into the most successful cinematic franchise in entertainment history.
Here's to decades more.
All six episodes of Loki are streaming now, exclusively on Disney+.