Believe it or not, Loki is here to make things less confusing. Two years after the release of Avengers: Endgame, time travel is an established part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though it’s still unclear how it really works.
Luckily, Loki will clear this up — or at least promises to do so over the next few weeks.
It’s already abundantly clear Loki will concern time travel. The Time Variance Authority, responsible in the comics for preventing the time-space continuum from falling into disrepair, is featured heavily in all the trailers we’ve seen so far. In fact, we already know Owen Wilson will be playing Mobius M. Mobius, a member of the TVA. But it appears Loki won’t be the only one getting a lesson in how time functions in the MCU.
In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Loki head writer Michael Waldron spoke at length about demystifying time travel for the series’ audience, whether they’re a scientist or the youngest Marvel fan.
“We had to create an insane institutional knowledge of how time travel would work within the TVA so the audience never has to think about it again,” said Waldron. “It was a lot of drawings of squiggly timelines.”
That’s a relief for those who were thrown by the “branching timelines” seen in both the Loki trailer and in a scene between Bruce Banner and The Ancient One in Avengers: Endgame. Our brains aren’t really wired to consider time as a dimension one can travel within, so it’s always going to be enjoyably strange to see it play out in the MCU, but hopefully a firm set of rules will help audiences fully get their head around the concept.
Establishing rules is an essential part of any time travel story. Take, for example, time travel rom-com Palm Springs, from last year. After entering a mysterious cave, that film’s characters are doomed to live the same day over and over again; if they die or fall asleep, the day resets. Through conducting an intimidating amount of research into quantum mechanics, they’re able to escape the time loop with a well-timed explosion.
Palm Springs tells a complex story, but by keeping its rules simple, the film avoids making audience wade through all the scientific jargon. Hopefully, Loki can do the same, using the Asgardian’s trademark wit and banter as a way to easily relay the MCU’s new frontier. That way, we can stop focusing on how the time travel actually works and just enjoy Loki’s adventures.
If Waldron explains this aspect of the MCU in an efficient way, that’s also a very good sign for the franchise’s future. Aside from being the head writer of Loki, Waldron is writing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, a film that explains another mind-bending element of the MCU’s next chapter — alternate dimensions.
Loki will be the canary in the coal mine when it comes to bringing all that exposition into the MCU. If it goes well, fans can breathe a sigh of relief. If it doesn’t, well, then we’re all becoming quantum mechanics hobbyists. But all signs point to Loki being in good hands.
Loki premieres June 9 on Disney+.