Marvel Studios had a big year on Disney+ in 2021 with shows like WandaVision and Hawkeye, but it is hard to think of a project that sets up the future of the MCU more than Loki. The consequences of the Multiverse were briefly displayed in Spider-Man: No Way Home, and will be further explored in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but viewers were introduced to the concept in Loki.
Tom Hiddleston's Loki was taken captive by the TVA at the beginning of the series due to his actions in Avengers: Endgame. After he met Sophia Di Martino's Sylvie and learned that she was a variant of him from a different universe, the pair set out to get answers to all the questions.
In the finale of Season 1, Sylvie and Loki come face to face with the man behind the curtain - He Who Remains. Portrayed by Jonathan Majors, the character informs them that he has been the one keeping all the universes in check and then is killed by Sylvie.
He Who Remains wasn't technically an antagonist, but one of his variants, known as Kang the Conqueror, will be a thorn in the side of the MCU's heroes for the foreseeable future.
The Inclusion of Kang in Loki
In an interview with The Playlist, Loki head writer Michael Waldron talked about the process of including a variant of Kang, as well as the handling of the Multiverse, throughout the Disney series.
Waldron was asked if He Who Remains controlling the TVA was a concept that the studio wanted to be in the show. The writer revealed that it was actually his idea, as well as incorporating Sylvie as a variant of Loki. Waldron then added that "one of the first things" that had to be done during the creative process was to "define the actual rules and nature of time travel:"
"No, that was not in there. I brought to them the idea of Sylvie Lushton, a version of The Enchantress, which we kind of fused into an idea of a variant Loki. And then it became clear early on because one of the first things we had to do in the writer’s room was define the actual rules and nature of time travel in this show. And what does the TVA do and why do they do it? And it became clear to us that according to kind of the rules of time travel, they’d been laid out in Endgame and according to the rules of time travel that made sense to me and that we wanted to run within the show, really, time travel was kind of the multiverse as … It’s like time travel. We were like, 'We’re really making a multiverse show, more than we’re making a time travel show.'"
According to Waldron, he needed to convince the MCU studio to change He Who Remains from an old creepy guy in the comics to a variant of Kang in the cinematic franchise. "Marvel was very receptive" to the adjustment, and that it was up to Loki's writer's room to "justify his role" within the series:
"The TVA shifted to like, 'O.K., these guys are actually guarding against a multiverse.' And so that’s when He Who Remains is just kind of an old creepy guy in the comics, and I pushed and Marvel was very receptive to it, the idea, this should be a variant of Kang. Because I knew Kang was coming down the pipe as a villain in the MCU and it just felt too delicious to not have him intertwined in our time travel story somehow. And so then it was just been coming upon us to justify his role in this place, but Marvel was very supportive of all that."
Fans will remember that a large portion of Loki was dedicated to Sylvie, specifically her efforts in hiding from the TVA since she was a variant outside her own timeline.
Waldron was asked if there was a specific moment during the creative process where the show really took off, and the Sylvie plotline is what he credits the most:
"I mean, there were many moments like that, many of them which turned out to be false victories in writers’ rooms. Certainly knowing that it was Kang at the end of it all, that the Timekeepers were fake, was a big one. But weirdly enough,one of the biggest ones was figuring out what Sylvie was doing, actually how she was hiding from the TVA, just because that felt like such a fun, clever bit of Sci-Fi that I hadn’t seen before, that it’s, 'Oh, what a cool way to hide from the time police, you would go relive apocalypses over and over.' And that gave us the climax. That really gave us the backbone of episode two, all of episode three. Episode four is all about trying to figure that out. In episode five, even sort of plays on ideas. So, for me, that was the idea. I remember that light bulb moment in the writers’ room, being like, Oh s---, this show’s going to be good because that’s a big, cool idea.'"
Setting up the Future
Loki was the first solo project for Tom Hiddleston's character in the MCU. He had been explored in a handful of other films, but this series was meant to solely focus on him.
What Michael Waldron and the rest of the creative team ended up creating was a project that would set up the years to come for the franchise. While there were many deep cuts into the characters of both Loki and Sylvie, in the end, it was all done so the Multiverse could be unfolded.
Season 2 of Loki was already confirmed at the end of Season 1, so there is definitely more of his story to tell, but the main focus will likely be on Sylvie. As Waldron pointed out, her involvement was what ultimately fueled the show, and she is largely to thank for what will come next. If she hadn't killed He Who Remains, which cracked open the Multiverse, who knows where the story would be going.
Her fate at the end of Season 1 was left up in the air, but in Season 2, there is a good chance that she will be setting out to right all of her wrongs, and Loki will probably not be far behind.