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Could Loki’s cliffhanger reset the MCU’s messy multiverse?

That extraordinary Loki cliffhanger could reshape Marvel's multiverse, and may have immense implications for the upcoming Deadpool 3 too.

Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Loki season 2

It’s a strange experience watching Loki season 2 as a Marvel fan who also has one eye on the future of the franchise. Naturally, given that the plot revolves around the multiverse and time travel, the series has huge implications for the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe: season 1, for example, marked the introduction of Kang. But the latest Loki cliffhanger has really taken things to another level.

If you’re an MCU fan who doesn’t watch Loki (and if so, why not?), you’ll be surprised to know that in its latest episode Loki season 2 seems to have instigated the destruction of… all time and space. That isn’t an exaggeration. The explosion of the Temporal Loom, the death of Victor Timely, and the imminent collapse of the TVA threaten to literally tear the universe apart as realities from across the multiverse collide.

It’s a plot point of enormous magnitude, and yet we know that this isn’t really the end of time and space. For one thing, there are two episodes left for Loki, Mobius, and Sylvie to fix things, and there’s absolutely no chance the MCU will be executing three of the most popular Marvel characters. For another, we know that there’s an entire slate of upcoming Marvel movies still ahead of us. The Marvels is due to release in a matter of weeks, indicating that the destruction of reality is off the cards for now.

So, on some level, we know that the events of Loki season 2 have to fit within the parameters of established characters and story threads within the franchise. That doesn’t mean that what we’re seeing in Loki is insignificant, though. It could – and most likely will – still be a pivotal moment for the MCU.

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Whatever happens in the final two episodes of the series is going to alter the Marvel timeline fundamentally, but in a way that preserves the lives of Captain Marvel, Sam Wilson, Shang-Chi, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and the rest. Or, at least, the versions of these characters as we know them.

The multiverse has grown unruly and, after the success of No Way Home, has been an increasing source of frustration for even the most strident defenders of the franchise. Loki season 2 could tidy this all up if our heroes can only manage to find a way to preserve a handful of timelines in the aftermath of the Temporal Loom’s destruction. This would be massive.

All the strands of the multiverse we saw in Doctor Strange 2? Gone. The various branches seen in What If…? They’ll be gone too. The status of Fox’s X-Men? So absolutely gone.

Loki in a car park in Loki season 2

For Kevin Feige (and audiences), the idea that the multiverse is no longer literally infinite would be much more manageable and would reset the expectations for Phase 5 and Phase 6 going forward. Acting as a soft relaunch of Marvel’s multiverse era, it would establish some much-needed boundaries for the storytelling.

That might sound like some intangible bonus, but it’s not. The ramifications of this potential reining-in could establish the plot for the overarching Marvel storyline for at least the next few years. Let’s imagine the TVA crew can only save three timelines: the one we know and love one with a new version of the X-Men, and one with a new version of the Fantastic Four. That would make sense, right?

We know that Deadpool 3 is going to be a multiverse story as Wade Wilson and Wolverine join the MCU. If rumored plot points are to be believed, the pair travel across alternate realities to hunt down the remnants of the Fox Marvel universe. Set leaks show the pair together in a barren landscape, too. Could that be from a timeline annihilated in the events of Loki season 2?

Then we have the culmination of this multiverse saga in the two next Avengers movies: The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars. Again, the impending destruction of endless realities could be integral to this. Secret Wars focuses on the colliding of timelines until there’s only one left, stitched together by a mad deity of enormous power. That story becomes much easier to tell if there are only three timelines left rather than an infinitely sprawling mess, as has been the case up until now.

Reality would still be torn apart but reconstructed in a way that sees the Avengers, X-Men, and Fantastic Four all together in one single universe: the only surviving universe. And it would all stem from Loki’s re-establishing of the multiverse.

For Loki season 2 and Marvel, this is the ultimate test of consequence. How much plot-shifting can they get away with in a series that not every Marvel fan watches? Restructuring the multiverse into something more coherent seems like it might be the limit.

For multiversal shenanigans, check out our guide to the Avengers Secret Wars release date, as well as the recent news about Taylor Swift’s Deadpool cameo. Or, see what else is new on Disney Plus this month before you commit to yet another rewatch of the Marvel movies in order, from start to finish.