Marvel’s Loki is set to place a heavy focus on — among other things — the fractured state of Marvel’s cinematic multiverse. Focusing on the version of Loki that escaped with the Tesseract in Avengers: Endgame, the upcoming Disney+ series will follow the God of Mischief as he’s forced by the Time Variance Authority to correct the breakage in the timestream that he himself caused.
But there’s another thing Loki’s multiverse-centric story might do for the MCU — something that will no doubt come as a major disappointment to certain Marvel fans.
The Theory — A recent Reddit post from u/LogicDog speculates that Marvel may use Avengers: Endgame and Loki to retroactively set past live-action Marvel shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Netflix Defenders series (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Punisher, Iron Fist) in timelines outside of the MCU’s prime reality.
This would, in effect, make those series non-canon, or at least totally inconsequential to the events of the Marvel films and Disney+ shows. It would also allow Marvel to reintroduce new versions of the characters featured in those series (like The Inhumans or Daredevil) in future MCU titles and simply turn the past iterations into versions that exist solely within their own alternate timelines.
This is sort of like what DC has been doing recently with its own cinematic multiverse, which allows for multiple versions of characters like Batman to all coexist (and even potentially interact) without having to worry about pesky canon.
Divergent Timelines — The connection between the Marvel Cinematic Universe and shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Daredevil has always felt tenuous at best. While the shows themselves all took place within the MCU, referenced and dealt with events from the MCU films, and have officially been considered canon, Marvel Studios has more or less ignored those shows and their characters over the years. (There’s a reason the Defenders didn’t show up in Endgame.)
The canonical nature of the shows has been called into question by fans more and more as of late, though, following the premieres of Marvel’s first Disney+ shows, WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Not only are both shows considerably more connected to the MCU films than their TV predecessors, but WandaVision even featured a different version of The Darkhold than was in both Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Runaways.
That latter detail, in particular, has led most Marvel fans to wonder exactly what the studio’s plans are for those old MCU shows. Will they still be considered canon in a few years? Or get totally retconned out of existence?
Well, if this Loki theory is correct, then Marvel’s plan could lean more towards the latter. Trailers for Loki have already set up just how deeply the series will dive into the divergent timelines and time travel concepts that were introduced in Avengers: Endgame. Knowing that, it seems very possible that Marvel may use Loki to simply turn S.H.I.E.L.D., Daredevil, and all past MCU shows into alternate universe stories.
The Inverse Analysis — As is always the case with Marvel, it’s impossible to know exactly what the studio has planned for the MCU. It’s possible that Loki will, indeed, retcon the existence of the Netflix, ABC, and Hulu Marvel shows, or the studio could simply continue to ignore them. There’s even the chance that some characters from the shows could turn up again in future MCU films or TV projects.
But, for whatever it’s worth, it does seem right now like the studio may be planning on erasing its past TV endeavors from the prime MCU reality in just the way this theory suggests. If that’s the case, don’t be surprised if Loki ends up being the studio’s chosen vehicle to do so.
Loki premieres June 11 on Disney+.