Welcome to the multiverse, Marvel Cinematic Universe. Was there a multiverse before this? Apparently so, but it was all being held in check by He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors from Lovecraft Country), a.k.a. He Who I’ll Get To In A Moment. Now he’s been killed, and there are infinite timelines branching out from infinite Earths… creating a sort of crisis, if you will. There are shades of DC Comics’ multiverse in this Loki finale, specifically in the way that the multiverse wasn’t created until it was observed, but the key difference here is that instead of one guy sitting above everything (The Monitor in DC), we evidently have an entire multiverse of guys who all want to be the one in charge, and they’re all some variant of a comic book villain known as Kang The Conquerer.
In other words, my predictions in previous Loki spoiler roundups were wrong. I thought the big villain would be Loki himself (or at least a Loki), having orchestrated the events of the series specifically to bring him to a point where he could take over the timeline, but I was only partially right. Putting Loki on the proverbial throne was the ultimate goal of He Who Remains, the actual main antagonist, but he wasn’t a Loki at all (he’s a Kang, but again, I’ll get to that). As He explains, he was a scientist from the future who discovered that there were other timelines, with other versions of him discovering other timelines in those timelines, which created a multiverse. Most of them were cool, but some of them insisted on trying to destroy the others, starting a Multiversal War that ruined all of reality. That went on until He Who Remains somehow shut it all down and established Loki’s Sacred Timeline, a.k.a. the one where he is in control.
He Who Remains knew Loki and Sylvie would eventually show up at his space-mansion, because he essentially made it all happen, and once they arrived he knew he would present them with his big choice: Take over the timeline and rule in his place or kill him as revenge for his cosmic manipulation and run the risk of worse versions of him from other timelines showing up to upend reality. Sylvie ended up making the Bad Choice, though it was most certainly the More Interesting Choice from a TV viewer perspective. With He Who Remains dead, the timeline branched off in countless directions and opened the door for variants of HWR to show up and—ahem—do some conquering (which at least one of them did, as seen in Loki’s return to a new TVA where nobody has any memory of who he is or what he did).
Let’s get into it: In the comics, Kang is a guy from the far, far, far future of the Marvel universe with access to time travel and possibly some relation to Reed Richards, a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic. As indicated by the fact that “The Conqueror” is part of his name, he’s kind of a dick and he likes to use time travel to try and, you know, conquer stuff. Like, all of the stuff. The thing is, he’s good at time travel, so you pretty much have to assume—unless he shows up and indicates otherwise—that everything that ever happens is only happening because he that’s what he wants. Spooky, right? The other thing is that Kang’s so good at time travel that other versions of him from other points on his timeline (variants, in Loki’s parlance) often try to undo his schemes, whether it’s by being a good guy (Kang was a member of the Young Avengers, as I’ve covered previously) or by being a different bad guy (like the villain Immortus from even further in the future, or the evil pharaoh Rama-Tut from the past).
That’s the sort of thing He Who Remains is talking about in this Loki finale when he insists that he’s one of the nicer versions of himself. Sure, he was secretly a dictator who rules all of time and space, but he didn’t make anyone put up statues of himself. That’s gotta count for something. Kang The Conqueror, meanwhile, is a very much a “put up statues of me” kind of bad guy, as you can see in the finale from the big statue of him at the TVA (replacing the statues of the Time-Keepers).
We heard last year that Jonathan Majors might be playing Kang in Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania, and as I mentioned last week when I was saying how unlikely it seemed that Kang would be in this Loki episode, Majors has been very happy to tell anyone and everyone that he’s the MCU’s Kang. That means we definitely haven’t seen the last of him, but it still remains to be seen if Kang will replace Thanos as the MCU’s next main villain—assuming there is a next main villain. Also, with variants of Kang now scattered throughout the timeline, an MCU version of the Young Avengers is even more likely than it was a few weeks ago, and it seemed so likely already.
As for Loki the guy and Loki the show, Disney has confirmed that there’s going to be a second season, so let’s break down what we know at this point: The TVA is still there, presumably working to help Kang control a new timeline, and Owen Wilson’s Mobius having no memory of who Loki is. Sylvie was left behind in He Who Remains’ castle at the end of time, but she could go and do whatever she wants since she has his time travel technology. Ravonna Renslayer is in the wind, having told pre-reboot Mobius that she’s going to find some of the free will he was talking about. I don’t know what that means, since it kind of seems like she also would want to take out Kang, so maybe she’ll team up with Loki and Sylvie whenever season two happens.
Not knowing when season two will come about, though, seems like the most important stumbling block when it comes to making predictions. Now that the movies are starting up again, and Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, and Ant-Man are all getting into multiverse hijinks, the MCU could look very different a year from now than it does today. Loki could continue to tell its story outside of the bounds of the movies, but then it would risk falling into the trap every other Marvel-adjacent TV show has fallen into and suddenly become irrelevant to the larger universe—which isn’t necessarily a problem, but I’ve wasted a lot of my life wondering why Stark Tower wasn’t in the New York skyline in the Netflix shows, and why nobody thought to mention to the Avengers that Agent Coulson is very much alive. The success of the Disney+ shows for both Marvel and Star Wars have made it pretty clear that people are willing to put these things on the same level as the movies, though, so there’s reason to believe that future seasons of Loki will be similarly important.