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The MCU Violates a Time Travel Rule Deemed Unbreakable by The Avengers Just 4 Years Ago

by Lidia Lucovic

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) introduced the concept of time travel in ‘Avengers: Endgame.’ However, four years later, ‘Loki’ Season 2 has defied a significant rule established in Marvel Studios’ 2019 movie. Following Thanos’ devastating act of erasing half the universe in ‘Avengers: Infinity War,’ the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes sought to unravel the secrets of time travel to reverse the destruction caused by the Mad Titan. With Tony Stark’s genius and Scott Lang’s understanding of the Quantum Realm, they successfully achieved time travel and utilized it to gather the Infinity Stones, ultimately defeating Thanos.

‘Endgame’ laid down specific rules for time travel, prominently stating that altering the past during time travel wouldn’t have any impact on the present. As explained by Smart Hulk, ‘If you travel to the past, that past becomes your future, and your former present becomes the past, which can’t now be changed by your new future.’ This scene aimed to refute the time travel theories presented in movies like ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘The Terminator,’ where altering the past alters the future. However, the premiere of ‘Loki’ Season 2 completely disregards this rule in a significant manner.

In the first episode of ‘Loki’ season 2, the character Loki experiences difficulty with time-slipping, a phenomenon where he is involuntarily transported across different time periods. This becomes advantageous when Loki and Mobius seek assistance from Ouroboros, the chief engineer of the TVA, to address the time-slipping issue. Loki encounters OB in the present and then time-slips to the past, engaging in a conversation with the engineer about resolving his time-slipping problem. This interaction leads the past OB to create a Temporal Aura Extractor, ultimately aiding in addressing the issue in the present. Notably, OB recalls this conversation with Loki while it is occurring in the past, suggesting that Loki’s actions in the past are impacting the future.

This narrative contradicts the established principles of time travel in the MCU, as elucidated by Smart Hulk and ‘Avengers: Endgame.’ If altering the past influenced the future, the events of the Avengers’ time heist would have caused significant ripple effects, resulting in a vastly different present upon their return. In such a scenario, Thanos might not have been able to enact the snap, potentially leading to an anticlimactic conclusion to the Infinity Saga. The inconsistencies in adhering to the time travel rules set in ‘Endgame’ across subsequent Marvel movies and shows have contributed to audience confusion. However, Marvel could easily provide an explanation for Loki’s deviation from the time travel rules established in ‘Endgame.

A recurring motif in Loki, emphasizing the distinct temporal dynamics within the TVA, provides insight into the plausibility of the God of Mischief altering the future by altering the past. This motif is prevalent not only in Loki’s first season but also extends into the second season. Given the unique temporal behavior within the TVA, it is conceivable that time travel operates under distinct principles. This premise could readily account for Loki’s deviation from the established rules in ‘Endgame,’ notably his experience of time-slipping that challenges even the TVA’s known regulations. Moreover, the episode underlines that the temporal framework within the TVA is undergoing transformation, likely due to the inception of the multiverse.

‘Endgame’ occurred prior to Sylvie’s confrontation with He Who Remains, placing the MCU within the confines of the Sacred Timeline. Changes within this timeline were subject to pruning by the TVA. Hulk’s delineated time travel rules might have held true for the Sacred Timeline, influenced by undisclosed factors, beyond both his and the audience’s awareness. However, with the emergence of the multiverse, time travel no longer adheres to the same principles. This rationale not only allows the MCU to deviate from ‘Endgame’s’ established rules but also avoids a direct retcon of the movie.

During the interaction between Loki, OB, and Mobius across different temporal points, Mobius comes to the realization that Loki’s actions in the past are directly affecting the present, a notion affirmed by OB with a casual remark stating, “there’s no flaw in that logic.” Although the dialogue refrains from explicitly mentioning the Avengers or Endgame, it carries a subtle undertone that resonates as a critique of the 2019 MCU movie. Given the numerous debates surrounding Endgame’s logic, this brief yet pointed commentary can be interpreted as a jest, positioning the Avengers movie as the subject of the joke.

Moreover, this instance underscores the extensive implications of Endgame’s time travel intricacies, even reverberating four years later. Loki’s ongoing efforts to rectify these issues indicate a concerted endeavor to streamline the MCU narrative as it transitions into the Multiverse Saga. With Loki potentially introducing alterations to Marvel’s time travel conventions once more, future MCU productions, including Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars, may adopt a more coherent and comprehensible approach. While the full impact remains to be seen, it is evident that Loki successfully challenges a fundamental time travel rule set by Avengers: Endgame, all the while incorporating a playful critique of the Marvel blockbuster.

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