Loki introduced some new rules of time travel thanks to the Time Variance Authority, but it’s starting to make things a bit complicated in the MCU.
Loki highlights how confusing the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s new time travel is. The God of Mischief has found his way into a new time traveling conundrum in his self-titled Disney+ series. In Avengers: Endgame, Loki (circa 2012) got a hold of the Tesseract and disappeared, becoming a variant in the eyes of the Time Variance Authority, a bureaucratic organization responsible for maintaining the flow of time. While Endgame sets up the rules of time travel in the MCU, Loki makes things a bit more complicated.
In Loki’s third episode, he and Sylvie are teleported to Lamentis, a moon that was in the middle of apocalyptic destruction. The TVA didn’t follow them there because they’re stuck dealing with Sylvie time-bombing the Sacred Timeline. What’s most confusing, however, is how the TVA itself operates within the timeline. Their appearances in real-time following a nexus event, which occurs when someone or something diverges too far from the Time-Keepers’ plans, is meant to limit any damage made to the Sacred Timeline because of how unstable it can be to the natural flow of events. However, the Avengers are allowed to return to the exact moment in time that they left in Avengers: Endgame without causing harm to the Sacred Timeline. The TVA explains why it’s best to cut the variant out the further from the nexus it gets to avoid imploding the timeline, but it makes the rules of Endgame’s time travel all the more messy.
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Loki suggests that there is only one Sacred Timeline, which also makes Captain America’s return to the past all the more baffling. By all accounts, his additional time travel trip should have created an alternate timeline, one the TVA is supposed to prune, yet somehow it’s fine with the Time-Keepers. Per the TVA, the Avengers going back in time was meant to happen and therefore not a deviation. What’s unclear is how the TVA comes to its conclusions regarding what is and isn’t meant to be a shake-up to the timeline. What constitutes the Sacred Timeline and why does this one need protection? For the TVA, being late to work could cause a potential divergence, but the Avengers can time hop to several various points in time with no consequences. The “it is what it is” explanation by way of the Time-Keepers doesn’t exactly hold water.
The further explored the rules are, the more convoluted time travel and variances seem to become. If there is only one timeline, it also makes the existence of another variant Loki, one with an entirely different backstory, all the more mysterious and confusing. It implies a multiverse, and not just one specific timeline, already exists and that is where Sylvie is originally from. Then there’s the TVA itself — its employees are revealed to be variants, but they’re also responsible for plucking others from the timeline. Why is it okay for them to exist, but not other timeline variants? It blows the idea of other variants being a threat to the Sacred Timeline out of the window.
Ultimately, there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason for why some things are allowed while others aren’t. Like with every sci-fi TV show or movie that utilizes time travel, it can become a headache to keep up with all its rules and changes. While working within the constraints of time travel, things will certainly get convoluted as it creates paradoxes and other complications. Loki has added a plethora of new rules to think about. While some of it can get confusing, the MCU has never been too concerned with the details and the more time travel is employed, it’s bound to get less reliant with rules.
Next: Time Keepers Explained: Timeline Battle, Multiverse War & TVA
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