Like the god of mischief himself, Loki’s finale pulled a dazzling trick on the audience and changed the way the MCU will work, possibly forever. After a few false starts in previous shows, it’s Loki and Sylvie who are responsible for yanking the franchise into a new era of the multiverse! It shows both Loki’s growth as a character and the inherent flaws of being A Loki that Sylvie was the one to betray Loki, kill He Who Remains, and spark the multiverse, but with the added surprise of announcing Loki Season 2, those plot element will continue in the brave new worlds awaiting fans on the other side of this finale.
To recap, Loki and Sylvie began the episode entering the citadel at the end of time and are eventually greeted by actor Jonathan Majors in the role of He Who Remains. His purple cape and previous casting announcement as Kang in Ant-Man the the Wasp: Quantumania were generous hints that the man responsible for the TVA and the sacred timeline is Kang the Conqueror, but in another twist it turns out that He Who Remains isn’t quite the villain he seems.
He Who Remains is one of many variants of a 22nd century scientist who discovered the multiverse and engaged in a war with his own variants over who gets to control their realities. He Who Remains is the victor of that war and established the TVA to make sure another version of himself is never born again, lest they be born more powerful or worse than himself. He’s a bit done with the whole gig though, and he offers the job of maintaining time to Loki and Sylvie…but Sylvie doesn’t trust him or Loki enough to take the gig.
She kills He Who Remains, and without his guidance the timelines split, creating multiverses into which new He Who Remains variants rise…including the great and terrible new variant in charge of the TVA. The variant known as Kang the Conqueror.
The moment the timelines split into multiverses is the most significant event in the MCU since Thanos arrived in The Avengers post-credit scene. An MCU multiverse opens the doors to literally anything happening in these movies. Anything. They can have multiple variants of the same hero, drag in the rest of the Marvel catalogue like the X-Men and the Fantastic Four with no further explanation, and have entire movies take place in a different reality to the rest of the MCU. With what we know about what Marvel has planned for Phase 4, here’s how the Loki finale might impact the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse.
The next MCU TV series will be an animated show that explores what could have happened if things in the main timeline went differently, things like what if Peggy Carter took the super soldier serum or Yondu kidnapped T’challa instead of Star-Lord as a child. Before the Loki finale, this seemed like a simple throwback to the What If comic series, but now that we know there are vastly different universes bumping around in unspace, What If…? might actually be a canonical look at what some of those multiple universes look like.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
There haven’t been any hints that Shang-Chi has anything to do with the multiverse yet, but the split-second inclusion of Doctor Strange’s right hand man Wong fighting Abomination in the latest trailer should set the weird wizard stuff alarm bells ringing. Shang-Chi will be the first Marvel movie to canonically take place after Sylvie killed He Who Remains, so it’s possible that Shang-Chi’s adventures will bring him into contact with a variant or two. It’s more likely, however, that introducing Shang-Chi as the first all-new Marvel hero to get a standalone film since Captain Marvel is more important than tying his story into Kang’s big plans.
Ms. Marvel and Hawkeye
Similar to Shang-Chi, Ms. Marvel and Hawkeye have the tough job of introducing new Marvel heroes to the roster. Kamala Khan and Kate Bishop could run into multiversal shenanigans, but it’s more likely that their adventures will be their own thing free of the Loki fallout.
This is where it gets interesting. The trailer for Eternals establishes that the titular Eternals are beings of immense power who have been around basically forever, which raises the question as to why the heck they let the Avengers handle Thanos instead of stepping in to save half the universe. Their answer, via the trailer: “Throughout the years we have never interfered…until now.” One must wonder what huge recent event might spur a team of immortal god-like beings into action. Is it the rise of another, much worse godlike being who threatens reality more than Thanos ever could?
Spider-Man: No Way Home
Marvel, it’s time to stop being coy about this one. The incredibly persistent rumors that the third Spider-Man movie will unite Tom Holland’s Peter Parker with that played by Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man and Tobey Maguire from the OG Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy have been around for ages. Alfred Molina even spilled the beans about coming back as Doc Ock in an interview and no one from the MCU said anything about it! Loki has finally established a canonical reason for the Marvel multiverse to crack open and start crossing over, so let’s take this as a virtual confirmation that we’re getting a live action version of the Spider-verse. For real this time.
Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness
This one’s pretty easy. Before appearing in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, Doctor Strange will also be in Spider-Man: No Way Home, so whatever multiversal spider-shenanigans he encounters in that movie will likely lead directly into his standalone that literally has the word multiverse in the title. Wanda Maximoff will also be in Multiverse of Madness, and to tie the Loki reveal back into the very first Marvel TV show, it’s possible that WandaVision‘s post credit scene means that Wanda will use the multiverse’s existence to find real variants of her fake sons.
Thor: Love and Thunder
Depending on where Loki Season 2 falls in Phase 4, it may air before or after Thor: Love and Thunder premieres. There’s never been a Thor movie without a Loki, and Loki means that there might not have to be one after all. Even if Loki doesn’t appear, Thor’s cosmic connections and the Guardians of the Galaxy’s hunt for the 2013 Gamora variant from Avengers: Endgame make it likely that there will be some timeline or multiverse mess — maybe the Jane Foster who gains the power of Thor is a variant? Who knows!
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and The Marvels
Probability of multiversal shenanigans are fairly low in these two unless The Marvels tees up Kang’s first confirmed movie appearance in Ant-Man the the Wasp: Quantumania in its post-credit scene.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Finally, we arrive at the movie we thought would introduce Kang and, to be honest, still might! Since Loki’s version of the character was He Who Remains and the end of Season 1 shows a statue of the variant Kang the Conqueror, we might not actually lay eyes on Jonathan Majors as the Conqueror variant until Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania in 2023. If Season 2 of Loki airs before this we’ll have more information on the Conqueror variant’s MO, but until then we know Kang is waiting for us at the end of time…or at least seven movies into Phase 4.
The Other Stuff
Right now there are a bunch of Marvel TV and film projects that don’t have release dates. They may arrive before or after Loki Season 2, they may show up before or after any of the planned 2023 movies. We just don’t know that much about Guardians of the Galaxy 3, Fantastic Four, Blade, Moon Knight, She-Hulk, Secret Invasion, Ironheart, or Armor Wars. Of these, the most likely Loki or Kang–adjacent multiverse connections are Blade and Fantastic Four. Blade because Mobius dropped a hint about vampires halfway through Loki Season 1 and as far as we know, there aren’t any vampires in the main timeline of the MCU right now. Fantastic Four because it’s another Marvel property that’s been made a bunch of times so, like Spider-Man, it’s ripe for multiverse moments and crossovers, one of which would require bringing Chris Evans back as a different character and come on, that just sounds fun.