Who is really running the Time Variance Authority? That question has been on the minds of Loki fans ever since the Marvel series premiered in early June — long before its fourth installment confirmed the Time Keepers were a bunch of animatronic fakes. With the Loki Season 1 finale set to air next week, fans, fortunately, don’t have to wait much longer to find out the truth behind the series’ biggest mystery.
One theory speculates that the TVA’s leader may not be who most fans expect either, but someone who has been noticeably absent from almost all Loki speculation in recent weeks.
The Disney+ show’s numerous Kang-related Easter eggs have led many to believe Kang is the powerful villain behind the TVA, while the series’ central themes of identity suggest that it’ll conclude with Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) coming face-to-face with the worst possible version of themselves. Both candidates would, frankly, work for the story Loki has told up to this point.
Mordo’s Plans — Played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Baron Mordo made his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in 2016’s Doctor Strange, where he became a close mentor and ally to Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) before making a last-minute heel turn in the film’s closing moments.
Mordo hasn’t been seen since his villainous appearance in the Doctor Strange post-credits scene, but he is set to make his return in next year’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be unwise of Marvel to try and remind casual MCU viewers of who Mordo is before his appearance in that film. Creating and running the TVA wouldn’t be out of character for Mordo either.
In Doctor Strange, Mordo is defined by his strict adherence to the laws of reality and rules of sorcery. He turns against Strange and The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) when he finds out they’ve both tampered with time travel, and he abandons his fellow sorcerers to rid himself of what he sees as their crimes against reality. Later, in the film’s post-credits scene, he announces that the world has “too many sorcerers” and vows to personally correct that problem.
All of which is to say that creating the TVA — an organization dedicated to maintaining strict order throughout the multiverse — easily fits in with Mordo’s whole persona. As @lyanamacaluso also points out, even Mordo’s parting line in Doctor Strange (“The bill comes due. Always. I will follow this path no longer.”) feels strangely reminiscent of the TVA’s whole “For All Time. Always.” mantra.
The Inverse Analysis — The only thing going against this theory is that the first five episodes of Loki haven’t — as far as we know — done as much work to set up an appearance from Mordo next week as they have one from Kang or a new Loki variant. Unlike Kang, though, Mordo isn’t a character who feels too big to appear in Loki, and he’d be a more surprising option for the show’s “Man Behind the Curtain” than another Loki variant would. Plus, who better to foil the plans of a strict character like Mordo than the literal God of Mischief? It just works on so many levels.
Loki head writer Michael Waldron also wrote the script for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, in which Ejiofor will be reprising his role as Mordo. So don’t count this theory out quite yet.
Loki is streaming now on Disney+.