With the Marvel Cinematic Universe ramping up Phase Four of the blockbuster film franchises, Disney+ has been releasing some of our favorite characters on the small screen in order to set up what’s in store now that The Infinity War Saga has come full circle. Decompressing from the epic conclusion where the fates of so many characters have been decided, Marvel gave us the genre-hopping hit series WandaVision and most recently Loki to keep fans satiated.
Loki, which premiered on the streaming platform in early June, continues the tale of Thor’s trickster brother after the events of The Battle For New York in the first Avengers film. Having given the heroes the slip, Loki finds himself traveling through time until he is apprehended by the Time Variance Authority, a secret organization that prevents branches in history’s timeline. Stripped of his powers, Loki is forced to work with Mobius, a plucky TVA agent played charmingly by Owen Wilson, in order to capture multiple variants of Loki who have been disrupting time while possibly unraveling the fabric of reality itself.
In order to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, I won’t deep dive too far into the show, but rather discuss the effects the show’s use of time and alternate realities could have on future MCU properties. One of the biggest and, so far, most speculated upon being Spider-Man: No Way Home, due out December 17, 2021. Having already touched on alternate universes in Spider-Man: Far From Home, the second installment of the Tom Holland led franchise, it comes as no surprise to hear early murmurs of the appearance of previous web slingers Toby McGuire and Andrew Garfield reprising their roles as the different versions of Peter Parker in the next film. A move was similarly seen in the hit animated feature Spider-Man: Into The Spider-verse from 2018. Also slated to appear according to the IMDb cast list are Alfred Molina as the villainous Doctor Octopus, J.K. Simmons as Parker’s cantankerous boss J. Jonah Jameson, and Jamie Foxx playing Electro.
With the rumor mills churning about what’s to come, Alfred Molina confirmed filmgoers’ speculations in an interview with Variety where he was quoted as saying,
“When we were shooting it, we were all under orders not to talk about it, because it was supposed to be some great big secret,” Molina said with a laugh during an interview with Variety about his role in the Oscar-nominated “Promising Young Woman.” “But, you know, it’s all over the internet. I actually described myself as the worst kept secret in Hollywood!”
With the cat out of the bag and the events of the Loki series now firmly cemented into the MCU mythos, future endeavors the likes of Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumainia and Doctor Strange: In The Multiverse Of Madness could also borrow heavily from the time corrupted plotline, opening up nearly infinite story possibilities going forward. What brings the speculation full circle is the crossover of a certain character (who shall remain nameless) from the finale of Loki who will be featured in Ant-Man and The Wasp, while Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff will join forces with Doctor Strange in the Sam Raimi helmed sequel.
With other shows bending realities such as the animated series Marvel’s What If? slated to air on Disney+ on August 11, 2021, the world will get an even bigger glimpse into what could have been for some of our favorite heroes and villains. Based on the comic of the same name, What If? takes some of the most iconic moments of the MCU and rewrites history. Given the huge undertaking Phases One through Three were in terms of a twenty-three-film story arc, leading to the most epic battle one could imagine, many seemed to feel that Marvel might not be able to top The Infinity Saga in both scope and gravitas. But maybe the only way to move forward is to turn what we know on its head and see what we get.
Bottom line, there is little to no end in sight for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, what with its vast library of characters and near sixty years of printed content to choose from, the possibilities are countless. And least we forget, this is the same studio who made us adore a talking tree and we kind of scoffed at it only to make him our favorite Vin Diesel character.
Say what you will about Disney/Marvel Studios, they certainly know how to tie it all together, do they not?