Spoilers follow for Loki episode 6.
Loki's season 1 finale has thrown the doors wide open to the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse (MCM).
The decision made by Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) to kill He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors) has resulted in the Sacred Timeline branching off in numerous directions – and those events will have far reaching implications for what we knew as the MCU.
With Marvel Studios set to release multiple movies and TV shows over the next few years, the MCM has the potential to complicate matters for the studio's executive creative team and MCU fans alike.
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According to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, though, there are plans in place to ensure that the multiverse won't confuse the cast and crew of its projects, as well as audiences, about how movies and TV shows will fit on the MCU/MCM timeline.
Asked specifically about what impact Loki's season 1 finale will have on the MCU/MCM, Feige said: "As you indicated before we started recording, the multiverse is coming up in a big way.
"There's interconnectivity there that people have already started to see and suss out, and I had a meeting this morning with the whole broad Marvel Studios team going through the multiverse and the rules of the multiverse and exactly how to really deliver on the excitement surrounding the multiverse."
Hopefully, then, fans won't struggle to keep track of everything that's about to happen in the next few years of the MCU.
Analysis: how will Marvel movies and TV shows fit into the MCU or multiverse?
Before Loki's release on Disney Plus, every Marvel movie and TV show sat on the same timeline – the Sacred Timeline, aka the MCU.
Fans were able to watch these films and TV series in chronological order. However, the arrival of Loki's Disney Plus show throws a spanner in the works. It effectively exists out of time and space away from the continuity of the MCU, so it doesn't have an exact place on the MCU timeline.
With the multiverse's introduction following the events of Loki episode 6, future movies and TV shows may follow in Loki's footsteps and, in some instances, branch off from the MCU's continuity into their own timeline.
This presents a problem for Marvel and the MCU. Whenever a new project is greenlit at the studio, Feige and his fellow executives will have to decide whether it fits on the main MCU timeline or if a movie or TV show can, like Loki, branch off and potentially create a new timeline to exist on.
This could lead to multiple MCU timelines co-existing, which may become a problem for viewers to follow. Fans have become used to watching movies and TV shows that pick up after each other, but the multiverse might change that formula now.
Marvel's What If...?, the upcoming animated Disney Plus TV series, may show how MCU fans could start to acclimatise to multiple MCU timelines. The show will look at how events in the MCU would have played out differently, such as Peggy Carter becoming a super soldier instead of Steve Rogers, or T'Challa being kidnapped by the Ravagers (instead of Star-Lord) in Guardians of the Galaxy.
While these stories may not end up being canon in the MCU, they might provide an insight into how the MCM's various strands may work. What If...? will give audiences a glimpse into alternate realities, dimensions and stories, and show that future Marvel productions might not live on the same timeline from this point on.
There will be some movies and TV shows that continue to exist on the main MCU timeline, however.
We expect the likes of Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to take place in the same reality as Avengers: Endgame and WandaVision. Characters like Peter Parker and Stephen Strange were already established in the MCU before the multiverse's arrival so, while these productions will likely be affected by the multiverse, they shouldn't stray off the main timeline.
Other forthcoming films and TV series, especially those that introduce new characters, though, could stray from the Sacred Timeline.
Movies like Marvel's Eternals and shows including Ms. Marvel and Moon Knight could feasibly take place in alternate universes, but their characters might end up winding their way into the main MCU timeline depending on how their plots play out.
We don't actually expect that to be the case, but it's fun to speculate – especially as these superheroes haven't existed in the MCU until after the multiverse's true introduction.
Whatever happens, Marvel will need to keep track of its in-house projects. As Feige joked during his multiversal chat with D23, Marvel will need a whiteboard to work out where each movie and TV show exists in the MCM.
The multiverse changes that – "Just before the pandemic, we started going, 'You know, maybe we need a big whiteboard!'", Feige revealed – and it sounds like Marvel, just like the rest of us, will have to monitor its own productions to work out where each one will fit into its multiverse.
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