SPOILER WARNING: This post contains spoilers for Loki, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Avengers: Endgame. Honestly, if you haven’t seen Endgame by now, then you wouldn’t be reading this article anyway. Even more honestly, if you’ve seen all three movies, you might just only be interested in today’s Pirates links. Those are at the bottom of the article. Mostly this warning is for the five people who have yet to see Spider-Man and who have yet to have it spoiled for them over a month later. I don’t know how you’ve managed, but congratulations on surviving this long.
The Multiverse has been unleashed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The series Loki introduced the concept with the introduction of the Time Variance Authority, whose sole mission is to trim any branches in time from The Sacred Timeline.
The season finale of Loki introduced a new character — He Who Remains — who is a variant of my boy Kang the Conqueror. Played by Jonathan Majors, the entire delivery and episode was the perfect introduction to Kang. The completely over-the-top performance by Majors captures a super villain who treats every other being — including fellow super villains — as if they’re just part of a simulated game that he is here to… well… Conquer.
I’ll note that He Who Remains was not Kang the Conqueror, and I’ll note the distinction later. What it all boils down to is that each being has their own life and their own purpose, and that life and purpose might be different from alternate universe to alternate universe.
By the end of Loki, the multiverse was blown wide open. I actually think that this was one of two “Sacred Timelines” that were operating next to each other in space, that were in fact just isolated timelines from the real Multiverse. My theory on this is that Kang, or a Kang variant, would have isolated a universe away to control, with the TVA blocking branches that would inevitably connect this Kang’s universe to the Grand Multiverse, where other Kang’s would pose a constant threat.
At the beginning of the Loki finale, we saw two black holes side-by-side, with one of them containing the sacred timeline that we know as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. By the end of the episode, the multiverse had broken loose and was expanding — rapidly, I might add. The Loki variant we were following from The Battle of New York ended up in a different timeline, inside a different TVA. I believe he was transported to the universe in the second black hole.
It should be noted that we don’t really know when the events of Loki take place. There’s not really a “when” inside the TVA, and He Who Remains was located at the end of time, which is surrounded by the timeline. We saw the timeline breaking open from the view of the end of time, but that doesn’t tell us when it diverted. Somewhere in that mess of lightning is the timeline that we know as the MCU, with branches extending out from all points in history.
What we do know is that Spider-Man: No Way Home takes place in 2024, and that timeline is explained at Collider. By this point, the Multiverse explosion wasn’t known inside the MCU timeline. The villains and the Spider-Man variants that were brought from alternate universes were brought from a botched spell by Doctor Strange. So the events of Loki haven’t really been shown in any movies yet.
Of course, time travel could be taking place all along, and we just don’t know it.
Technically, when you’re going back and watching The Avengers, you’ll now know that somewhere in the city, off-screen, you’ll find the following from Avengers:Endgame, which was released seven years later:
1. Future Bruce Banner’s astral projection talking with The Sorcerer Supreme, who is also fighting the Chitauri invaders.
2. Future Iron Man, Future Captain America, and Future Ant-Man trying to steal the other two infinity stones. It’s my theory that Ant-Man was seen during this heist, and that’s why he was represented in the musical in Hawkeye.
We didn’t see that at the time in The Avengers. Marvel has done a great job of retconning a lot of their old movies, improving them by going back in time and giving their events more meaning. I’d expect the same to happen with the current movies, to the point where we might not even know the truth about what we saw in No Way Home, or the larger implications.
This did introduce the concept of the Multiverse in perhaps the most genius way: Using the highest grossing character in comic book movie history to explain how it works.
Tom Holland is Peter Parker and Spider-Man.
Andrew Garfield is Peter Parker and Spider-Man.
Tobey Maguire is Peter Parker and Spider-Man.
All three exist in different universes. Their universes are very similar in who Peter Parker is as a person, and how Spider-Man impacts his personal life.
Holland is the Spider-Man in the MCU. I believe Garfield will be the Spider-Man in the current Sony universe that is building up some darker villains like Venom and Morbius. That fits the darker, secret agent theme from the first two Amazing Spider-Man movies. Maguire’s universe seems self-contained, and he served as the mentor Spider-Man.
As of right now, Marvel can continue with Tom Holland in the MCU. Sony could release two Spider-Man movies. They could do The Amazing Spider-Man 3 with Andrew Garfield and do Spider-Man 4 with Tobey Maguire. And all three can co-exist because they are stories about three different Spider-Men.
There are more than three universes in the Multiverse. In some of those, Peter Parker won’t be Spider-Man and Spider-Man won’t be Peter Parker. For example, we know that there are universes where Gwen Stacy and Miles Morales are the lone Spider-Man representation, and there are many other non-Parker Spideys out there. Technically, we could see a Spider-Gwen movie where Andrew Garfield dies and Emma Stone goes on to be the superhero.
Going back to Kang and He Who Remains, it’s implied that the Marvel Cinematic Universe was a timeline where Nathaniel Richards did not become Kang the Conqueror, but instead became He Who Remains. This would be just like a universe where Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker didn’t become Spider-Man and became… literally anything else. True, Peter Parker is usually Spider-Man. Nathaniel Richards is usually Kang the Conqueror. However, there exist universes where they have different identities.
I actually believe there’s an argument for the Multiverse to exist in real life.
Consider that space is endless. Just like the remainder in pi.
At some point, if Cole Figueroa continues break down the digits of pi, he will find every potential combination of numbers that could exist. He’ll find your birthday, your social security number, your phone number, and any other numbered combination that could be possible. There’s a reason he became a front office executive after being a baseball player. Cole Figueroa literally has the key to unlocking every bit of information in the universe.
Now, consider the same concept for our universe.
If the universe is endless, then that means somewhere out there, you’ll find every possible combination. You’ll definitely find a planet that can host life like ours.
And somewhere out there, you’ll find a planet that hosts life exactly like ours, with many of the same people and same circumstances.
Somewhere out there, you’ll find a planet where Tim Williams is a Pittsburgh Pirates writer, covering the Pirates in the World Series in 2015.
And somewhere out there, you’ll find a planet where Tim Williams doesn’t cover the Pittsburgh Pirates, because Dave Littlefield was retained at the end of 2007 in that universe, put up an 82-win season in 2008, and was only fired after a 100-loss season in 2009, by which point that Tim Williams had opened a bakery.
If we suddenly had the technology to travel to any part of this endless universe, then I could hop aboard this Wormhole Navigator and travel to another planet just like this one, where I could find a Tim Williams just like myself, only several years in the future. I could learn the history of his planet, and his entire personal history, including every step he took, every mistake he made, every thing he did right, and every being who impacted his path.
I could then jump back aboard the Navigator, travel back here to almost precisely after I left, armed with the knowledge of how the future might play out, based on a similar situation on another planet just like this one, with people just like this one, and with a Tim Williams who had followed the same life path up until this point. Of course, perhaps our paths only diverged in this theory because I traveled to get information I wasn’t meant to have, which made me the variant from the expected timeline of Tim Williams, which actually exists somewhere in the endless region of space.
That’s a lot of referring to myself in the, what, 8th person? But perhaps that offers a more digestible way of wrapping your brain around the Multiverse.
What you can expect is for Kang to raise hell. He does exactly what I laid out above. He’s always traveling to alternate universes that contain different versions of himself, while trying to understand as much as he can about everything that could derail his plan. If you ever defeated or challenged Kang in one universe, he will see you as a potential threat in every universe. Especially if you are Doctor DOOM.
My theory on what we’ve seen, Kang-related:
He Who Remains was a lesser Kang, and a variant to this timeline. He was tasked to manage the sacred timeline and prevent other Kang’s from emerging to try and take over the Multiverse. In the comics, the most powerful version of Kang is Immortus, who has control of the entire timeline, and who works to keep rogue Kang’s — aka, rogue versions of himself — from rising up to kill him and destroy everything. I think that He Who Remains was tasked by Immortus to wipe out all Kang variants from that timeline, doing so by wiping out the entire timeline when it formed, rather than trying to take on the Kang from that timeline.
It’s practical. Think about a tomato plant growing from the ground. It starts as one vine, with some leaves. It begins to branch off from the main vine, and each branch continues to branch off into separate branches if not pruned. Each branch and each branch of each branch contains leaves. Any one of these leaves could infect the entire branch, and spread that infection to the original timeline and across the “Multiverse” of that tomato plant.
In case you needed a different way to view the Multiverse. Every single branch contains not only a Kang who could take down the entire Multiverse, but other branches that could bring other Kang’s. Pruning the entire branch is as practical as He Who Remains lays out in Loki.
What we do know is that Kang the Conqueror will make his debut in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which will be released after Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. Kang, once again played by Jonathan Majors, will have a full role in Ant-Man 3, and this is likely where we will get our first real look at the MCU’s Kang the Conqueror.
However, Kang shows up everywhere and often during the comics. He’s being set up as the next big bad in the MCU. The last big bad was Thanos, and while Thanos received very little screen time before Infinity War, his presence was felt in many movies before that. Every time an infinity stone was introduced, Thanos got closer to his destiny, even if we didn’t see him. You couldn’t really introduce Thanos early as a recurring bad guy, because he’s so powerful. That would take away from his power.
The power that Kang has isn’t that he’s nearly impossible to defeat like Thanos, but that you can defeat him over and over and over and never get rid of him. He’s already been defeated once in the MCU, and hasn’t even appeared in a movie. Each time he’s defeated, he learns from what happened, and makes sure that never happens again across the Multiverse. Eventually, one Kang will have enough information to defeat everyone.
It would be cool to see Kang making a cameo in Doctor Strange, or even in the upcoming Moon Knight series on Disney+. There are some great stories pitting Moon Knight against Kang, and hopefully that rivalry will be seen on screen at some point. Kang could be defeated in each, just like in Loki, and it would only work to strengthen the threat he provides. All of this said, I feel like we won’t see Kang until Ant-Man 3. Although, I didn’t think we’d see him in Loki, so who knows?
That’s Kang. He just randomly appears, making you wonder what is happening elsewhere in the larger Multiverse.
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