While Marvel Studios' Phase 4 doesn't have an announced Avengers film to build to, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and company are planting the seeds for plenty of big picture narratives. Both The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Black Widow included the presence of the mysterious Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, who appears to be assembling an Earth's Mightiest Heroes roster of her own. WandaVision, Loki, and Spider-Man: No Way Home toyed with Multiversal concepts, and while each yielded vastly different consequences, all of those roads are leading to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
That said, just because projects are leading into one big event doesn't mean they directly tie into one another. 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy and 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron both featured Avengers: Infinity War antagonist Thanos, and while all three of those films are set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, nothing from Peter Quill's debut affected Tony Stark's murder bot takeover.
The fast lane to Multiverse of Madness promises to merge events from WandaVision, Loki, and Spider-Man: No Way Home, but until then, the three preceding Multiverse-ridden projects are staying in their own lane.
Does Loki Link to Spider-Man: No Way Home?
If the God of Mischief's fingerprints are on Peter Parker's threequel, they weren't put there intentionally.
Speaking to The Wrap, Spider-Man: No Way Home writer Erik Sommers revealed the events of Loki "weren't planned to coincide" with No Way Home but felt it worked in their favor regardless:
“We were already down this road when that ‘Loki’ finale happened. We all felt like, this really helps. This is great, because it shows that there is trouble in the multiverse.”
No Way Home writer Chris McKenna continued, noting that he's unsure of how certain events line up chronologically but is "sure" all will be revealed in due time:
“Whether certain things that were happening in ‘Loki’ line up in terms of the timeline exploding and is that the same time that Doctor Strange is casting the spell, I don’t know. There is, I’m sure, the Marvel talking points to that. But we were aware of a lot of the different things that were going on, and could we draw on those, how it would be affected by this thing, but ultimately we had our own giant story bear to wrestle with.”
The biggest challenge Sommers and McKenna had to deal with surrounded the release order shake-up. Marvel Studios once had Multiverse of Madness hitting theaters in May 2021, two months before Spider-Man 3's initial release date in July 2021, before 2020's delays domino affected the rest of Phase 4.
McKenna acknowledged that this change did directly alter the story of No Way Home:
“Originally we were writing this where Strange was gonna be involved but it was after the events of ‘Doctor Strange 2’, and so where is he where is his head, and so that’s something that we were kicking around. And then now it seems to be more of like, ‘oh this actually gets him interested in pursuing the multiverse as a concept.’”
All Roads Lead to Multiverse of Madness
The finale of Loki reaped consequences hitherto undreamt of across the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the scariest part is that only Tom Hiddleston's titular character is aware.
After Sophia Di Martino's Sylvie drove a dagger through Jonathan Majors' He Who Remains, the Sacred Timeline sent offshoot branches across the Multiverse. When Loki returns to the Time Variance Authority to warn Owen Wilson's Mobius and others of the impending doom, they have no idea what Loki is talking about or who he even is.
For this reason, Spider-Man: No Way Home might have felt the effects of Loki without showing it. Considering the God of Mischief's supporting cast doesn't even know what went down in the Citadel, it makes sense the rest of the MCU would be just as oblivious.
Fans have already linked Elizabeth Olsen's complete transformation into the Scarlet Witch in WandaVision with Loki's finale, revealing that the respective runtimes line up perfectly. There's no telling whether Strange's Multiversal manipulation from No Way Home will also place simultaneously with the aforementioned MCU Disney+ shows, but it might be the perfect recipe to send the Multiverse into madness.
All six episodes of Loki's first season are streaming now on Disney+. Spider-Man: No Way Home is in theaters now.