New marketing material for the upcoming Loki series on Disney+ hints at a major disruption of the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline.
Loki follows the events of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame (2019), after Loki (Tom Hiddleston) escapes SHIELD custody when Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) botch their attempt to retrieve the Tesseract containing the Space Stone.
This part of the Endgame Time Heist did keep the precious Infinity Stone from Thanos, but it also enabled Loki to create a new timeline — one that could threaten the main MCU chronology.
In Avengers: Infinity War, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is killed early on in a battle with Thanos, who also easily dispatched of Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth). We encounter an earlier version of Loki in Endgame, when the Time Heist crew heads back in time to the events of The Avengers (2012). Loki picks up right after the trickster god creates the new timeline, when he is picked up by the Time Variance Authority (TVA).
A just released collectible, part of Hasbro’s Marvel Legends collection, presents Loki in his TVA outfit. The text accompanying the collectible reads:
“Mere moments after his escape during the events of Avengers: Endgame, Loki is apprehended by the TIME VARIANCE AUTHORITY (TVA) and arrested for his crimes against the ‘sacred timeline.'”
The key phrase to consider here is “sacred timeline”. The phrase likely refers to the main Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline created very intentionally and with zero room for error during Endgame’s Time Heist. This particular timeline was kept intact by Steve Rogers. It ultimately resulted in the undoing of “The Snap” and the demise of Thanos and his threat against reality.
It stands to reason that keeping this timeline completely unbroken is the chief responsibility of the Time Variance Authority, though Marvel Studios has yet to officially confirm this. Nonetheless, referring to this chain of events as a “sacred timeline” is an apt description. But, could this specific phrase have a deeper meaning?
The “sacred timeline” was a phrase used by future descendants of the X-Men, called “Clan Askani,” in a 1990s Marvel Comics called, coincidentally enough, Endgame. The Clan operated 30 centuries in the future and were obsessed with defending what they called the “sacred timeline,” and traveled through time to keep it undamaged.
Mutants are well-versed in time travel in Marvel Comics, most notably in Days of Future Past, a storyline that became the basis for a 20th Century Fox X-Men film of the same name, released in 2014.
It’s possible that this phrase was used quite purposely to reference an X-Men connection. Ever since Disney acquired 20th Century Fox — now 20th Century Studios — and the rights to the X-Men franchise characters, Marvel fans have been eager for the their introduction into the MCU.
WandaVision teased a possible beginning of the FOX invasion with the inclusion of Even Peters as the recast version of Pietro Maximoff, or Quicksilver, the brother of Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen). Peters played the same character in Fox’s X-Men films, afterall. Though, the WandaVision finale proved the casting to be a red herring, as Peters true name was revealed as “Ralph Bohner” and his speedster powers were a product of Wanda’s hex, the Scarlet Witch also has a deep connection in Marvel comics to the X-Men, as Wanda is herself a mutant.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier also teased an X-Men connection when Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) travel to Madripoor, a location frequented by Wolverine in the comics.
With Wanda Maximoff set to confront multiple realities in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, and Loki set to explore the multiverse created possibly by his escape from the “sacred” main timeline and other unexpected consequences of the Time Heist, it appears likely that the influence of the multiverse will play a role in the introduction of X-Men characters.
What else could we see in the Loki series, if the “sacred timeline” is at risk? Will we get a cameo from Loki’s brother Thor, or any hints at plot from the upcoming Marvel Studios release Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)? Perhaps a return to Asgard as we saw in Avengers: Endgame? Anything is possible when the master of trickery and illusion is messing with the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline.
“Loki features the God of Mischief as he steps out of his brother’s shadow in a new series that takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Tom Hiddleston returns as the title character, joined by Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sophia Di Martino, Wunmi Mosaku and Richard E. Grant. Kate Herron directs Loki, and Michael Waldron is head writer.”
Will Loki be the first MCU property to officially introduce the X-Men? Or is the “Sacred Timeline” another red herring? Let us know what you think in the comments.