Warning - This article contains spoilers from Episode 5 of Loki.
The penultimate episode of the Tom Hiddleston-starring series Loki has just landed, and with it comes a treasure trove of references from all across Marvel Comics.
Taking place in a dimension called the Void that exists at the end of time, (according to Judge Renslayer, at least) "Journey Into Mystery" was full of Easter eggs for eagle-eyed fans. While Sylvie, Mobius, and the various Lokis worked their way to their final confrontation with the great shadow beast Alioth, the surrounding landscape was filled with the detritus of the thousands of timelines the TVA has ended.
One piece of chronological debris forms a reference to one of the most powerful entities in the Marvel canon.
A GLIMPSE AT THE LIVING TRIBUNAL
The Living Tribunal is among the most powerful entities in the Marvel Universe. In the comics, it acts as a judge of cosmic balance, intervening across the multiverse if one timeline becomes too powerful or the balance between good and evil becomes too great. It manifests as a grand three-headed being, with each head representing a piece of its personality. Its front, uncovered face represents equity, its hooded face represents necessity, and its partially covered face represents righteous revenge.
In Episode 5 of Loki, there's a glimpse of what appears to be the remnants of a statue of the Living Tribunal in the Void. The Tribunal's partially hooded and uncovered heads are clearly visible.
The Tribunal has been referenced in the MCU before. In Doctor Strange, Karl Mordo—played by Chiwetel Ejiofor—wielded a weapon against Benedict Cumberbatch's Stephen Strange that he called "The Staff of the Living Tribunal." How and where Mordo acquired something belonging to an entity as powerful as the Living Tribunal remains unclear.
THE LIVING TRIBUNAL'S UNCERTAIN FATE
There were a ton of references in Journey Into Mystery, and while some were clearly intended to be simple callbacks or references to the comics, others may be hints at things to come.
The TVA claimed to have been born as a result of a multiversal war that the Time-Keepers reordered into one single, Sacred Timeline. While it's now clear the Time-Keepers don't exist and the workers of the TVA are captured variants rather than created workers, the best lies often contain a grain of truth.
Perhaps there was in fact a multiversal war, one where the Living Tribunal is likely to have intervened. Since history is written by the victors, whoever claimed victory in that war and established the TVA likely ensured that the Tribunal would not be around to interfere any longer. Considering that the Tribunal has died in the comics before, it's not impossible that Mordo was able to acquire the Tribunal's staff because the entity itself is long dead.
It's also possible that the Tribunal doesn't exist yet. If Loki and Sylvie are successful in destroying the TVA and birthing the multiverse, the resultant chaos may require a caretaker. Perhaps Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will show the consequences of the TVA's destruction and the need for an entity like the Living Tribunal to be born (or reborn) to maintain order across the infinite possible realities.
Since Mordo wields the Staff, it's most likely any more information about the Tribunal will only come when Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness releases on March 25, 2022. The finale of Loki, which is sure to reveal the true mastermind behind the TVA, will appear on Disney+ Wednesday, July 14.