Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for Loki season 2
A huge Marvel Cinematic Universe theory has been set up by Loki season 2 that could save the MCU from itself. The return of the wildly popular MCU show is the culmination of Loki’s time on the Marvel timeline, setting up the ultimate redemption for Tom Hiddleston’s God of Mischief from the first Avengers villain to the savior of all things. Loki season 2 already puts the fate of the Sacred Timeline in Loki’s hands before upcoming Marvel movies like Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars deliver the crossover event haymaker, but actually, if Loki loses, the ramifications for the MCU timeline will be even better.
If the idea of a full Marvel reset is indeed coming, as has been widely speculated (not least for self-serving reasons), Marvel will finally deliver on the catchphrase of Hiddleston’s incredibly popular anti-hero in the best way. His glorious purpose, which was initially presented as his own selfish, self-validating need for conquest and power, would instead be about helping the MCU regain some order out of chaos. If, as must surely be the case, Loki is unable to stop the Kang variants bringing war, Avengers: Secret Wars could give Marvel the chance of a reset it so desperately needs for one big reason.
Marvel Has A Major Continuity Problem (& It’s Getting Bigger)
By the end of 2023, the MCU will consist of 33 movies and 9 Disney+ TV shows, but fully understanding MCU continuity requires even more homework than just the official titles: there are the abandoned One Shots to consider, the decanonized shows like Agents of SHIELD, Agent Carter and even Inhumans, and then there’s the multiverse canonization of multiple other Marvel movies. All of Sony’s Spider-Man movies are annexed to the MCU by No Way Home, Netflix’s Daredevil is a must-watch thanks to Hawkeye, Echo and Daredevil: Born Again, the X-Men movies now share multiversal continuity thanks to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Deadpool 3… basically, it’s an exhausting list to get through.
The multiverse is a major issue because it’s such a license to creatively bringing back non-canon characters and events in a way that makes them necessary viewing. Think about Deadpool 3: that might be Marvel Studios’ first Deadpool movie, but to fully understand it, viewers will have to watch both of the first Deadpool movies, plus every Wolverine appearance in Fox’s Marvel franchise, plus Ben Affleck’s Daredevil movie at least. If early Secret Wars rumors are to be believed, that situation will be exacerbated by even more old Marvel timelines coming into play, but even without them, the weight of lore is almost at a crushing point. It’s almost at the point where crossover events require so much that it risks alienating newer fans, which is perhaps why Disney+ now features short recaps for upcoming releases (the Marvel Legends shorts).
Longevity is both a mark of success and an albatross around the MCU’s neck, because a significant portion of the current MCU viewer base weren’t around to watch Iron Man, but the model suggests they sort of have to have been. Or at least to be willing to go back and watch everything old. Without a reset, that just becomes a snowball rolling down a hill getting bigger. Luckily, the plainest, most efficient answer to that – a full reset of the MCU – has already been cleverly set up.
How Loki Sets Up The MCU’s Reset
In Loki season 2, a major multiverse timeline reveal suggests that everything is heading towards a reset, and that, actually, the timeline has already been through at least one reset already. In Loki season 2 episode 1, the MCU’s God of Mischief hears a recording of He Who Remains talking to Ravona Renslayer at the end of the first Multiversal War. That recording is dated 2321, almost 300 years to the day that Loki season 1 was first revealed, confirming that the Kang War is set to happen in the future, before a timeline reset brought about by He Who Remains curating the Sacred Timeline.
In effect, the fate of the Marvel Sacred Timeline is always to head to Multiversal War and always to be reset by a replacement for He Who Remains, before the cycle starts again. Now that Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) has killed He Who Remains and brought about the arrival of his innumerate variants, the war for the Sacred Timeline is coming, and the only logical way to restore order is to reset everything, unifying a surviving timeline and destroying everything else. Given that nobody in the MCU has any knowledge of the first time that happened (other than He Who Remains himself and now Loki and his allies), it feels inevitable that Avengers: Secret Wars will end with a Marvel timeline reset and consolidation of the Multiverse as the hard reset, just as it happened in Marvel Comics. And that is the smartest way to fix Marvel’s continuity problem.
If Loki is indeed setting up the MCU’s reboot in Avengers: Secret Wars as it seems, Marvel Studios would be able to do as the TVA do and prune everything unnecessary. A full Marvel reset would fully consign the first 6 Phases of the MCU to history (in a similar way to Star Wars’ decanonization of the Expanded Universe, though without such a radical change to canon), freeing the new generation of fans from the sheer weight of homework and convoluted lore that is a near constant source of complaint in the fan community.
Not only that, but Marvel could also use the reset to bring back massively lucrative characters like Iron Man and Steve Rogers without having to explain why they don’t look like Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans, but without having to get rid of any existing actors and characters they might want to continue. That would avoid the messy DCU continuity issue facing James Gunn at the same time as reviving the profitability of certain MCU character brands that are currently “on ice.” There would, of course, be concerns from the MCU fans who are currently invested in ongoing stories and character arcs, but from a purely business-driven perspective, a multiverse reset using the Secret Wars mind-wipe loophole would give Marvel Studios the chance for new life and continuation in a way that appeases all parties.
From the ashes of the old MCU, which a reset would not make any less legitimate, Marvel could build something new and something arguably better, incorporating mutants, the Fantastic Four, and everything that simply wasn’t possible when Phase 1 was initially sketched out. And that really can’t be a bad thing.
New episodes of Loki season 2 release every Thursday on Disney+
Key Release Dates
Captain America: Brave New World
Marvel’s Fantastic Four
Avengers: The Kang Dynasty
Avengers: Secret Wars
A hidden detail in Marvel’s newest release sets up the end of the MCU, and that might be exactly what the sprawlng franchise’s future needs. Read More