Loki episode 1 spoilers follow.
With 23 films and plenty more shows to keep up with too, the MCU can be a tricky place to navigate, and that's before you throw in the multiverse and all that wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff from Avengers: Endgame.
On the face of it, Loki's first solo venture complicates all that even further. Casual Marvel fans know already that Loki died in the last Avengers film, but to everyone, Tom Hiddleston's return as the God of Mischief might come as a shock.
But this isn't the OG Loki. For his very own Disney+ show, the Powers That Be have decided to follow the exploits of an alternate Loki who has escaped his timeline using the Tesseract. Freedom doesn't last long though, because the TVA (Time Variance Authority) quickly catches up with this version and puts him on trial for these timeline-hopping shenanigans.
Created by "three giant space lizards" known as the Time Keepers (yes, really), the TVA exists to preserve the integrity of one "sacred" timeline. According to an instructional video shown to Loki, the universe was once a mess of different timelines all battling it out, so the lizards intervened in order to preserve all of life itself. The TVA's job is to step in if anyone steps off their predetermined path, which would create something called a Nexus that could undo everything.
That's all well and good, but where were the TVA when the Avengers played around with history during that time-travel heist in Endgame? Surely this organisation would frown upon all that timeline meddling?
Loki thinks so too, which is why he's outraged when the TVA prosecute him in court instead. But he has a plan, because of course he does. It's Loki!
During his hearing, the God of Mischief calls the Avengers out as "time criminals", claiming that he only diverged from his path directly because of their actions. In exchange for his freedom, Loki promises to track the Avengers down and bring them to "justice". He does have some experience fighting Earth's Mightiest Heroes, after all. However, the TVA declines, saying that, "What they did was supposed to happen. You escaping was not."
This conversation explains why the TVA haven't shown up until now, especially when the Avengers messed around with time in Endgame. And although there's a lot of exposition going on in Loki's first episode, Marvel was smart to quickly nip this potential plot hole in the bud.
But still, without further clarification, this does feel a bit like a deus ex machina situation. Why was it okay for the Avengers to disrupt the timeline and not these new Loki variants? To be fair, Loki did step away from his timeline in part because of their actions.
Given that we know next to nothing about the Time Keepers and what the "sacred" timeline should look like, Marvel can essentially justify anything TVA-related with a vague "this was supposed to happen".
At the end of the day though, this is exactly the kind of comic book logic that you just need to accept if you want to fully enjoy all the mad absurdity that Marvel has to offer. And if you're not a fan of the wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff, then Loki probably isn't the show for you anyway.
Loki streams exclusively every Wednesday on Disney+.
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