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I don’t think they set Loki up to be the villain, at least not this version. Once he gathered all of the branches (telling choice of wording for that), they clearly coalesced into the Norse World Tree, Yggdrasil. So Loki became the god he was meant to be: preserving reality against disintegration.

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I didn't think pivot at the time, but it certainly seems to position away from Kang more than anything else. It doesn't seem like Loki has been set as a new antagonist, but much more of a table clearing. If I had to guess between the writer's and actor's strikes this could be giving Marvel a chance to reset things, perhaps have a little less build up for the next few properties and focus on good stories and developing additional characters that people care about before building towards something else big. (One can hope)

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Loved this season…don’t think Loki will be the villain of phase 5 but I do agree that this episode inadvertently gave the MCU an easy pivot away from kang…he’s defeated now, and someone else can easily take his place (I don’t know how much of the variety piece to put stock in, but doom as a central figure in secret wars has always made sense)

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The scene with Loki infusing the timelines with, for lack of a better phrase, Loki energy definitely reminded me of a moment in the 2015/16 Secret Wars storyline -- specifically, the bit in the epilogue with the information that (spoilers follow) each branch of the reborn multiverse will have a version of Owen Reece in it to stabilize things.

(Or, to make a Doctor Who comparison, the bit where Clara enters the Doctor's personal timeline, resulting in a bunch of her doppelgangers scattered across space and time.)

Long story short: I could definitely see a Loki variant emerging as the Big Bad of Phase 5, based on where we've left things. (Though I'd guess not this particular Loki, who seems to have gotten some sort of closure.)

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This is exactly how I interpreted it as well, and I don't think it's a crackpot theory at all. They could have easily written this intentionally to give them maximum flexibility, even before the Majors stuff came to light, because that's just a smart strategy. Plus I'm guessing there were pretty easy ways to edit the ending to even more clearly establish that there's a future without Majors and potentially without even Kang. TV episodes can be edited all the way into the last week, and with some clever editing and ADR you can do a lot, so it's not like the writer's strike would have prevented them from that. In any case, I think they nicely gave themselves an "out" for the whole Kang storyline, by having Loki essentially take his place as "time-god" who is making sure the timelines are healthy overall, providing some kind of guidance (I'm guessing this will be established in season 3 if there is one) to the TVA for their active "tending" of the timeline tree, and between all those things preventing the Kangs from emerging and there even being a time-war. So Marvel is free to take the next phase in a totally different direction, which is great! Even beyond the Majors of it all, I think Quantumania showed that Kang is just not that interesting of a villain compared to someone like Thanos, and that he was not the right character to build a whole multi-phase series of movies and shows around. Plus his whole "thing" is the multi-verse, and I think there's a lot of multi-verse fatigue happening right now. It would be smart to cool it for a while and get back to basics.

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I don't see how this season in any way could be seen as the planned direction from the end of S1, but whether that means it's a deliberate steer away from Kang is harder to discern. The shot towards the end of Gugu Mbatha-Raw witnessing something involving a lot of purple light (when purple has been Kang's colour) suggests that they did want one clear, unresolved Kang thread. It may well just be that the show realised it needed to take Loki "off the map" for any future projects, so having him have to sit there holding all the timelines together is the solution they came to.

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I like the theories I’m seeing here! Here’s my decidedly less exciting take:

They could also just recast Kang if it came down to it, and either address it with timey-wimey space stuff like “Doctor Who” does or just let it lie. Looking ahead, it doesn’t seem as if Kang is going to be reappearing anytime soon, and that gap only makes the part even more conducive to a recast.

At any rate, they’ve done it before with Hulk and Rhodey, and those worked out great!

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you’re definitely not crazy, pivoting to loki as the big bad of this saga is a concept that’s been floating around for a few episodes now. even the empire podcast has discussed it!

My personal favorite “kang fix” theory is using gugu mbatha-raw instead. and you know what they didn’t actually show her die soooooo

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I think a very nice solution, whether this was an inkling of anyone involved or not, is to have Ravonna become aware that she’s a Kang variant and use Gugu Mbatha-Raw going forward. The answer is right there in Sylvie. Loki’s variants as seen in that limbo from Season 1 were cool from a fan perspective but also because, you know, it just makes sense in context of infinite branching realities that Loki could be female or significantly older or younger or a reptile. The Kang variants all being Jonathan Majors, like all the Scott Langs in Quantumania being identical, although there might have been contextual rationale for that, were disappointing given the other Peter Parkers showing up in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Whatever, Ravonna escaping her fate and showing up later to proclaim herself She Who Remains is a moment waiting to happen.

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I don't think they really have a Majors problem. He's appeared in exactly two MCU projects, which is one more than Terrence Howard appeared in. It's an easy re-cast. And I don't think they're moving away from Kang at all. He's an integral part of the multiverse shenanigans and the post credit scene in The Marvels seems to indicate that X-Men/Deadpool/Fantastic Four are going to be introduced as already existing characters with long histories from different universes.

This Loki refused to save the universe by killing one person. He's also sacrificed his personal freedom to become the thing that is holding the universe together without "pruning" (ie - killing billions of people). It's sort of reminiscent of the tales of Odin being strung up on Yggdrasil and through his suffering becoming better at helping humans. I suspect the reference was intentional. Doesn't mean we won't see evil versions of him in the future, of course.

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I don't know if it was intentional, but I was reminded a bit of the twist in the 2016 Secret Wars comic where Doom turned out to be the badguy who then remade the universe in his image. It would be perfectly fine to have it be Loki in the movies who does that instead.

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I guess I don't understand why this ending would make Loki the villain for the future movies (if that's the argument you're making). Everything about this felt more like growth for Loki in that he's sacrificing freedom (to meddle, to cause chaos, etc.) to keep everything together. Just rewatched the first Avengers movie this weekend and there's even a line from Thor that "a throne would suit [Loki] ill" which made me think about how far he's come as a character that now he can sit on that throne and be what the multiverse needs.

But then again maybe I'm wildly overestimating or misunderstanding what went on here because man was this season difficult to follow with all the timey-whimey-ness of it all.

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Forbes has an article that is waaaaaay too long but gets to the root of why the problem with Majors is more of a Hollywood problem than an MCU problem and why it is unlikely to significantly alter their plans for Kang going forward. And it gets through that issue in the first few paragraphs so you don't have to read the whole thing...'-)

https://www.forbes.com/sites/markhughes/2023/11/07/marvel-studios-woes-are-overstated/?sh=21e3000811df

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Yes indeed. I didn’t read this, or anything about the finale, until I saw the finale and as I was watching Loki take the throne I thought, maybe they didn’t intend it but Tom Hiddelston is Kang. Damn lucky of Feige if they need it. Damn lucky, perhaps one could say, what a trick.

Personally I loved this season. It was a blast. Sure the novelty of Tom and Owen wasn’t there. But come on, in a vast universe of mediocrity, this was a step above.

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This isn’t even a controversial theory IMO. They knew well before this season aired that it had a Majors problem. They delayed the season due to rewrites and reshoots. Regardless of how it was originally going to end, they clearly came up with an extremely open ended finale that could go any number of directions including allowing Kang to still rise up. We’ll see what happens next…

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Kang already has multiple incarnations in the comics. One version is that he is Reed Richards father, Nathaniel Richards, or another a descendent of Doom. So they could use this to have a new 'Kang' already. Just this incarnation of Kang is gone.

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