Warning: Spoilers ahead for Loki season 2 episode 5.
We’re just days away from the Loki season 2 finale, where the stakes have never been higher. The penultimate episode followed Loki as he tried to reunite his TVA allies, who had been scattered across branched timelines. By getting the gang back together, Loki hopes that he can save the Sacred Timeline before it collapses.
As I watched this episode, it occurred to me that Loki himself was the product of a branched timeline. We’ve been following this version of the trickster god for so long that it’s easy to forget that he isn’t from 'The Sacred Timeline.' Don’t forget, the original Loki died in Avengers: Infinity War, and the anti-hero we’ve been following in this series is from a branched timeline created in Avengers: Endgame.
As I pondered this, a series of questions came to my mind. What if the Sacred Timeline isn’t the original timeline either? How do we know that the MCU we’ve been following isn’t a branched timeline itself? In fact, Loki season 2 could do something insane and reveal that every single Marvel Cinematic Universe movie is full of variants from a branched timeline. In other words, nothing was ever canon.
Evidence for this Loki theory
Everything we know about the Sacred Timeline comes from He Who Remains and Miss Minutes. Should we really be so quick to trust their word? They point to the Sacred Timeline as the original chronology that must be protected at all costs, but we have to remember that both of these characters are liars. Are we going to forget how Miss Minutes spent years manipulating the TVA, or how she convinced Victor Timely to betray Renslayer?
He Who Remains tried to portray himself as the peaceful version of Kang when we met him in Loki season 1 finale, but he’s not exactly a shining example of virtue. Don’t forget, he wiped Renslayer’s mind after promising that they would rule time together. In fact, he wiped the minds of all of his soldiers, brainwashing them to become TVA agents.
They’ve lied about everything, so why would they be telling the truth about the Sacred Timeline?
Throughout season 1, we saw the TVA go through great lengths to curate the timeline. This was done at the behest of He Who Remains, who probably wanted reality shaped in a way that gave him power. This is a Kang we’re dealing with, and if he has the power to alter reality, there is a pretty good chance he will take advantage of that power.
We can believe that or believe that He Who Remains was a man who just wanted the Sacred Timeline to be steady. Which seems more plausible to you? After seeing the way He Who Remains betrayed his former lover and brainwashed the TVA, I think the answer is clear.
What does this all mean?If this theory is correct, what would it mean for the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
This means that we’ve been watching a branched timeline since 2008. Every single movie, television show, one-shot, and coloring book is non-canon. But if that’s the case, what happened to the original timeline?
It’s fun to imagine what the original timeline might have been like. The fanservice part of my brain loves to imagine it containing all the pre-MCU Marvel movie characters, such as Ben Affleck’s Daredevil, Nicolas Cage’s Ghost Rider, and Thomas Jane’s Punisher.
It’s possible that He Who Remains caused Marvel’s original timeline to branch, and that branch became the MCU. Once the MCU was stable, He Who Remains might have pruned the original timeline, ensuring that the only reality remaining was one he could control.
Imagine what a revelation like this would do. It has the potential to make the Multiverse Saga even bigger than the Infinity Saga. Imagine how mind-blowing it would be for audiences if Kang revealed that everything since the 2008 Iron Man film is non-canon. This would also give the MCU a chance to have a soft reboot, an idea that has been debated for some time.
It’s worth noting that CW’s The Flash did something similar. The first season of the show revealed that the entire series was taking place in an altered timeline. Sometime prior to the events of the pilot, Eobard Thawne went back in time to kill Barry Allen’s mother and manipulate other events so that Flash’s origin would occur sooner. This revelation didn’t seem to scare the audience away, so perhaps it could work with the MCU. This type of timeline-tweaking has also been common in comics for decades.
Will the Loki season 2 finale shock the world by revealing the truth about the Sacred Timeline? Perhaps this revelation will come later, in a film like Avengers: The Kang Dynasty. Either way, it would be one of the biggest plot twists in the history of cinema.
The only question is, does Marvel have the guts to pull it off?