Ms. Marvel brought plenty of new concepts into the MCU from heroic fandom to even mutants, but it also touched on a familiar one: time travel. Avengers: Endgame was the first MCU project to dive into time travel and established the rule that adventuring into history doesn't change the past, but instead creates a new timeline - this concept was further reinforced in Loki.
During Kamala's fight with the Clandestines, her bangle ended up sending her back in time to the Partition in which she crossed paths with her grandmother as a child and reunited her with her father just in time to catch a train. Many were quick at the time to share their belief that this contradicts the MCU's existing time travel rules as Kamala directly affected the existing timeline.
Now, a writer who was involved with both Loki and Ms. Marvel has offered their thoughts on whether the MCU's rules of time travel have already been broken.
MCU Writer Explains Ms. Marvel's Time Travel
In a recent interview with Cinema Blend, Loki writer and Ms. Marvel creator Bisha K. Ali responded to criticism about how time travel was handled in Kamala Khan's MCU debut.
The MCU writer explained that Ms. Marvel's time travel wouldn't create a Nexus Event "because of the inevitability of it" which makes it "a closed loop:"
“Yes, we had the Avengers: Endgame [rules] that you can’t go back in like a consequential [way]. … However, between Endgame and [Ms. Marvel], another little show came through called Loki, which I was very much a part of figuring out how time could work. And I would say that I think it wouldn’t have caused a Nexus event because of the inevitability of it. So it was a closed loop. That’s what’s up. … And it was also the fact that a Nexus event is caused by… You know what? I’m gonna get shouted out by someone, either by a fan or by Marvel. I can’t tell which. But I will say this, that for me, it made perfect sense, and it fits into the logic of what was established in the TVA, which seemed like the ultimate ruling on time, I think.”
Ms. Marvel was met with intense criticism from fans at the time of release due to its potential retcon of Avengers: Endgame and Loki's established time travel rules.
@darthwebhead questioned whether the episode "[broke] the pre-established rules of time travel" in the MCU:
"Hate to be that guy but doesn’t the latest episode of Ms. Marvel break the pre-established rules of time travel within the MCU"
@droid254 pointed out how the "rules [of time travel] keep changing" and have led many to become confused:
"Marvel people have us confused on time travel... Rules keep changing on some shows like on Ms Marvel when Kamala goes back in time she didn't create a new timeline like we've seen from the movies and Loki"
@TheGamingMag stated that Phase 4 is "a mess so far," criticizing Ms. Marvel for "[throwing] away any time travel rules that Endgame established:"
"Ms. Marvel just created a time loop? Doesn’t that technically throw away any time travel rules that Endgame established? Idk whatever man. Marvel Phase 4 is a mess so far"
@Yourtwelve shared a more canon-based explanation that the series instead "shattered Bruce Banner's Time Travel Theory:"
"Ms. Marvel has officially shattered Bruce Banner's Time Travel Theory 'If you travel to the past, that past becomes your future and your former present becomes your past which can't now be changed by your new future'"
Marvel's Time Travel Rules are Still Confusing
The MCU may have made a mistake by establishing among the most confusing time travel rules ever. These complicated rules were largely designed how they were to convenience the story of Endgame and Loki, but have now grown confusing when it comes to other projects led by different teams.
In the particular case of Ms. Marvel, there's some justification to say Kamala saving her grandmother may not break the rules. During Loki's original TVA hearing, Judge Renslayer told the God of Mischief that the Avengers' Time Heist was "supposed to happen" but his escape was not:
"We're not here to talk about the Avengers. What they did was supposed to happen. You escaping was not."
Of course, that was all according to the Time-Keepers, who actually turned out to be He Who Remains. But that still established the idea that along the singular Sacred Timeline, there are things related to time travel that is "supposed to happen," and perhaps Kamala saving her grandmother was one of them.
After all, Ms. Marvel had always said that Sana was reunited with her father just before the train came during the Partition, but nobody ever knew that person was Kamala. So, there may well be some cases of time travel that do not create new universes, but only if they fulfill this confusing and ambiguous concept of a closed loop such as the Time Heist and Kamala's Partition journey.
Who knows whether Marvel Studios will one day clarify its time travel rules further or perhaps simplify them? Time travel is a confusing concept, maybe even the MCU's brightest geniuses don't actually understand how it works just as is the case in the real world.
Ms. Marvel, Loki, and Avengers: Endgame are all streaming now on Disney+.