Marvel might have just answered our biggest question about ‘Loki’
The Loki finale premiered last Wednesday, delivering the big villain surprise we’ve been waiting for. Episode 6 provides a great ending to an exciting season full of Lokis. It also gave us an even more exciting cliffhanger. We can’t wait to see what happens next in the MCU, as everything that we’ve witnessed will impact everything in Phase 4. The cliffhanger also works great for the second Loki season, which Marvel brilliantly confirmed during the finale.
Season 1 does little to answer our biggest question about the show, however: where does Loki fit in the MCU timeline’s chronology? We thought we would have to wait for the multiverse movies for more insight. But Marvel might have already revealed the answer on Disney+. Mind you, plenty of Loki spoilers will follow below, so stop here until you’ve finished season 1.
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Understanding Loki’s TVA timeline
Time passes differently at the TVA. That’s something we learn from the show’s first episode. It’s also the reason why we suspect that the TVA might reside in the Quantum Realm, although that’s not the only place where time moves differently. The void where the remains of timeline branches go to meet Alioth is also beyond the end of time. Kang’s castle sits outside of the flow of time as well.
We learn in the show that Hunter C-20 (Sasha Lane) has been serving the TVA for hundreds of years. That’s how far back Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) had to go in search of a personal memory she could use during her interrogation. C-20 lived on Earth around the present time before becoming a variant, and the music playing in her bar memory gives her away.
Ravonna (Gugu Matha-Raw) was a school principal in 2018, but she served the TVA for a very long time. Her friendship with Mobius (Owen Wilson) dates back eons.
Loki (Tom Hiddleston) enters the TVA in 2012, following the Battle of New York. After that, he’s with the agency for either a few days or a few months. He can’t tell, and we’re given no specific details.
What’s important to remember is that what happens in the TVA and Kang’s castle isn’t directly related to the actual flow of time.
The main MCU timeline
Also important to remember is that the Sacred Timeline is the primary MCU reality. This is the timeline that Kang has been curating for eons before getting tired and trying to pass on the mantle to two Lokis.
After Endgame, WandaVision, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the MCU’s present tense is somewhere after 2023. But it would be wrong to see that as 11 years after the TVA arrested the Loki variant. That’s because everything in that main reality happens concurrently.
The past, present, and future all happen simultaneously, as seen when the branches start evolving in the finale. As soon as Kang gives up control, Nexus events happen all over the central reality. They won’t just occur from the current present tense of the MCU.
The Endgame time conundrum
Because of Endgame, we know that the TVA allowed at least two Nexus events to go unpunished. One is Thanos (Josh Brolin), leaving his 2014 present to fight the Avengers in 2023. The second one is Captain America (Chris Evans) retiring with Peggy (Hayley Atwell) in the late ’40s.
These Nexus events happened either because they were meant to or because the TVA lost control of the timeline. The first one is the kind of Nexus event that the TVA could partially allow. The organization could let Thanos leave 2014 and then prune the old branch he departed from. But the second is a branch that moved beyond the point-of-no-return. Cap spent decades with Peggy in that branch.
Also important is the duration of the Time Heist. The Avengers leave the present time for a few seconds to steal the Infinity Stones. They beat Thanos a few hours later, right after bringing back all the blipped beings.
Considering all of that and everything we saw in the Loki TV show, the multiverse must have started branching out at some point during Endgame. It could have happened right before 2014 Thanos traveled to the future. Or it could have happened at any point before Cap decided to retire with the love of his life.
Loki timeline and the MCU
The multiverse rules are so complicated that Marvel has recently held a meeting to discuss them. We’ll get more explanations soon, as both Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness are multiverse stories.
Marvel just gave us a big clue about the Loki timeline with the help of Disney+. With all the new content launched this year, the MCU chronology has changed. Black Widow is the latest Marvel film, but it’s a prequel. During a chronological rewatch, you should play Black Widow between Civil War and Infinity War.
It’s in that updated list that Disney tells us where Loki fits. As you can see in the screenshot above, you should watch Loki right after Endgame. This further reinforces the idea that Sylvie “frees” the Sacred Timeline in the Loki finale around the same time as the events in Endgame. We still lack the precise moment in the official MCU timeline when reality branches out.
The MCU chronology isn’t perfect. The films contain flashbacks, and the post-credits scenes might offer details from a distant future (like Black Widow). But at least Marvel confirmed that Loki is placed after Endgame in the main timeline. And if you want the full chronology, a Redditor compiled every single MCU title released so far and arranged them chronologically:
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