Loki may be over for now, but the revelations that came from Marvel’s third Disney+ original series have raised many questions that will surely have fans buzzing for a long time to come. Many of these were from the shocking finale, but some from earlier in the season still have some viewers reeling.
The revelation of the Time Variance Authority’s mission to arrest and remove all those who deviate from their predetermined “set path” on the Sacred Timeline (and that there even was a Sacred Timeline, to begin with) was a lot for Marvel fans to take in, and now that the final episode has revealed who exactly has been behind this whole operation, there has been plenty of debate about the implications of this system.
THE HARSH IMPLICATIONS OF THE LOKI SERIES
Blood and Treasure Executive Producer Matthew Federman created a poll asking fans whether they interpreted the finale's explanation of He Who Remains and the Sacred Timeline as completely preventing free will for all who inhabit the MCU, or allowing those within the Sacred Timeline free will unless an action of theirs created a branched timeline.
Or, did Kang just preserve one timeline but the actions within it had free will--unless they created a branching timeline? At first I thought it was saying the former but now I think it's the latter. Maybe that's because I'm not a fan of determinism. What say you? 2/2
Federman and the fans who voted in the poll didn’t have to wait long for their answer. Despite the “winning” option being that those in the MCU have mostly had free will up to this point, Loki staff writer Eric Martin simply replied to the tweet with “No free will.”
Martin later clarified that this was based on the explanation provided by He Who Remains in the finale, saying that:
“If he’s telling the truth, everyone does the thing they’re supposed to do on the timeline. And if they don’t, they’re pruned.”
HAS THE MCU REALLY HAD NO FREE WILL?
This has huge implications for not only the future of the MCU, but the past as well. If the destruction of the Sacred Timeline brought free will to the universe for the first time, everything that has happened in the franchise thus far has been predetermined by He Who Remains.
It’s possible - even probable - that the events of the Sacred Timeline are those that its inhabitants were most likely to make regardless, and one is far less likely to deviate from their path than to follow it. Still, this puts a new lens over the Infinity Saga since viewers now know the characters didn’t truly have any choice in their actions; if they hadn’t done exactly what they had, they would have been taken in and pruned by the TVA.
However, despite Martin’s comments, the events of Loki show that free will must exist to some extent, even on the Sacred Timeline, as only some events that deviate from the Sacred Timeline appear to cause branches. For example, Sylvie was female from birth and was even told she was adopted unlike Loki but wasn’t taken in by the TVA until a seemingly random instance of her playing with toys in Asgard years after her birth.
Also, the series shows that free will technically does exist in instances where it won’t affect future events. Examples of this include Loki’s trip to Pompeii, Sylvie hiding out in apocalypses, and Classic Loki spending many years alone after he was supposed to die at the hands of Thanos and only being pruned when he wanted to see Thor again.
All episodes of Loki’s first season are available to stream on Disney+.