WARNING — This article contains spoilers for Loki Episode 6, “For All Time. Always.”
As Loki concludes its six-episode first season on Disney+, viewers have finally been treated to many of the answers they've anxiously awaited for weeks. While “For All Time. Always” ended plenty of debates, it raised just as many new questions, many of which won't be addressed until the newly-announced season two hits the streaming service.
Possibly the greatest debate of all was that of the man behind the curtain of the TVA. From King Loki to Doctor Doom, the theories have been endless. Ultimately, the most common conclusion was that the time-traveling villain Kang the Conqueror would be revealed as the TVA's elusive creator, which ended up accurate, at least in a sense.
The dramatic cliffhanger ending to Loki's first season has changed the Marvel Cinematic Universe forever. But how does the Disney+ series connect to Spider-Man: No Way Home, WandaVision, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness? Well, it all starts with the story of Kang the Conqueror.
THE STORY OF KANG
In the distant future, many variants of Johnathon Majors' genius scientist Kang simultaneously discovered the existence of multiple timelines. After years of peace, a war broke out among them for dominance over the multiverse, a war that threatened all reality.
Eventually, one Variant, inspired by Marvel Comics' Immortus, utilized Alioth to cut reality down to one timeline, forming the TVA to prevent the creation of further branches. Having dedicated his entire life to hindering the rebirth of the multiverse, the Variant and his time-traveling organization were the only things keeping the peace.
THE BIRTH OF THE MULTIVERSE
As Loki and Sylvie took a history class on the creation of the multiverse, Mobius and Hunter B-15 were in the process of taking down the TVA. The interference of the duo, along with Judge Renslayer's departure from the organization, meant the TVA was no longer fully functioning, causing branches to rapidly form.
During Loki and Sylvie's conversation with Kang, this process was visualized in a representation of the timeline outside the Citadel. As the Kang Variant continues to monologue the mischievous Asgardians into taking over his job, branches began to “[cross] the threshold,” meaning they could no longer be pruned:
KANG: “We just crossed the threshold.”
This concept isn't new to Loki as earlier in the series, his TVA training taught him that when a branch crosses the red line, it can no longer be reset by the TVA making the creation of the timeline irreversible:
LOKI: “It's when the TVA can no longer reset a nexus event. Okay? Boring.”
MISS MINUTES: “Right. And that would lead to the destruction of the timeline and the collapse of reality as we know it.”
Initially, Majors' energetic character had benefited from the upper hand over the Lokis by knowing everything that would happen during their interaction. However, as the timeline changed, the Variant was left vulnerable with no knowledge of what would come next:
KANG: “So, I fibbed. I fibbed earlier when I said I know how everything's going to go. I know... I knew... everything up to a certain point, and that point was about seven, eight, nine, ten seconds ago.”
Previously, He Who Remains had utilized this knowledge to evade all of Sylvie's attempts to attack him as he attempted to recruit her and Loki into replacing him. Unless somehow, the Kang Variant had the genius to remember every event on the timeline he shaped, he likely studied up in advance of the meeting to ensure his safety.
Knowing that He Who Remains was left with his guard down, Sylvie was free to stab and kill the TVA leader with her blade. Through his death, the last line of defense against the multiverse was gone.
This opens up a great number of possibilities for the MCU, allowing for historic heroic team-ups from across reality. But it also opened the doors to a second multiversal war due to the threat of an infinite number of Kang Variants returning once again.
THE MARVEL CINEMATIC MULTIVERSE BEGINS
Naturally, the unraveling of the multiverse is a game-changing event for the MCU that ought to have a tremendous impact on a broad range of projects.
Following the conclusion of Loki, the What If...? animated anthology series will be Marvel Studios' next major release. Despite its unique stylistic nature, it will remain equally connected to the bigger picture as it showcases alternate takes on the MCU from across the multiverse, something only now possible thanks to Loki.
Spider-Man: No Way Home may be surrounded by the most anticipation out of any film in the history of the MCU, not least due to the rumors of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield reprising the wall-crawling roles. Additionally, villains from past Spider-Man franchises — including Doc Ock and Electro — are set to appear in the highly-anticipated sequel, with the multiverse now offering an explanation for their involvement.
The first whispers of alternate realities adjacent to the MCU came from the Ancient One in Doctor Strange. Years later, the film's sequel Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will delve deep into other timelines as Benedict Cumberbatch reprises his role alongside Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch.
In opening these realities, Loki and Sylvie have created quite the problem for the Sorcerer who will no doubt spend much of his next installment cleaning up the God of Mischief's mess. According to recent reports, Tom Hiddleston will reprise his role for the 2022 blockbuster, so perhaps Strange may be searching for some explanation as to what has gone so wrong with reality.
One thing that is a little unclear, is whether every multiverse-centric project will continue to advance the story of Kang the Conqueror or if that will be reserved for only a select few. Johnathon Majors was originally confirmed to be making his MCU debut in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, so fans shouldn't rule out another surprise appearance in the Doctor Strange sequel.
Speaking of Quantumania, Loki is bound to greatly impact the 2023 shrinking sequel which will likely see Kang the Conqueror make his live-action debut, as opposed to the Variant who popped up in the Disney+ series. The Paul Rudd-led film ought to offer the first taste of the multiversal war that He Who Remains promised would come soon after his demise, a storyline likely to be further explored in Avengers 5.
Outside the TVA's TemPads and Tony Stark's own time machine, MCU fans are yet to see any other methods of traveling between realities. Xochitl Gomez will make her debut as America Chavez in next year's Doctor Strange sequel, with multiverse-hopping being a key element of her power set. The young Latin hero will likely help the magical group navigate realities in the film unless of course the Sorcerer Supreme's power set already allows for that.
Naturally, there are fairly simplistic explanations for how Marvel's most gifted heroes would be able to navigate the multiverse. But one must question how a villain from the early 2000s such as Alfred Molina's Doc Ock or Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin would be able to hop between realities.
Based on Molina's past comments, the historical Spidey villains will simply appear within the MCU timeline, which raises a multitude of questions. Given WandaVision will connect directly to both No Way Home and the Doctor Strange follow-up, perhaps Wanda's reality-bending antics have weakened the boundaries between worlds.
If the multiverse is as critical to the wall-crawler sequel as has been reported, it makes a lot of sense why a trailer has not yet arrived for the film. Marvel will likely leave some time for viewers to digest the Loki finale before dropping the trailer in late July or sometime in August, filled with multiversal goodness.
Continuations of some game-changing plot points, such as the introduction of Kang, are sure to be scattered across other cinematic projects, as is tradition for the MCU. However, Loki's storyline at the TVA and the fate of his relationship with Sylvie are unlikely to be explored further until the second season hits Disney+, whenever that may be.
All six episodes of Loki are streaming now, exclusively on Disney+.