Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Four Re-Watch. Loki, part 2

It’s been a year since I last did a rewatch, ending Phase Three with Spider-Man: No Way Home. Now that the Infinity Saga is over and Thanos has turned to dust, our surviving heroes have moved on… with various degrees of success. Phase Four incorporates both Cinematic releases and television programs. For the television programs, I am limiting each article to three episodes each

Title:  Loki

Characters created by:  Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Larry Lieber, Don Heck, Walter Simonson, Paul Cornell, Mark Brooks

Returning characters (for the series):  Loki, Sif

Episode four: “The Nexus Event”

Director:   Kate Herron

Writer:    Eric Martin

US Release Date:  June 30, 2021

Summary:  Many years earlier, Hunter Ravonna Renslayer of the Time Variance Authority (TVA) arrests a young Sylvie for “crimes against the Sacred Timeline” and erases her timeline from existence, but Sylvie steals Renslayer’s TemPad during her trial and escapes into the timeline.

In the present, TVA agent Mobius M. Mobius asks Renslayer to see Hunter C-20, but Renslayer claims C-20 died from a mental breakdown caused by Sylvie’s enchantment. In 2077, amidst the destruction of the moon Lamentis-1, a stranded Sylvie and Loki form a romantic connection. This creates a unique branched timeline, a “Nexus Event” perpendicular to the Sacred Timeline, which alerts the TVA who come to rescue and arrest the pair.

Returning to headquarters, Mobius has Loki imprisoned in a time loop of a moment from his past on Asgard with Sif, wherein she attacks him and says he will always be alone. Mobius pulls Loki out to interrogate him about how the Nexus Event occurred, then mocks Loki’s narcissism and falling in love with Sylvie. After Loki reveals that the TVA employees are time variants, Mobius sends him back into the time loop. Mobius later steals Renslayer’s TemPad, on which he finds a recording of her interviewing a mentally sound C-20, who confirms Loki’s statement. Meanwhile, a distraught Hunter B-15 brings Sylvie to 2050 Alabama and asks the latter to show her memories of her past life, having glimpsed them when Sylvie previously enchanted her, learning her own true variant nature in the process.

Mobius frees Loki, but they are confronted by Renslayer and TVA troopers. Mobius acknowledges his betrayal and variant status, leading to Renslayer ordering him to be “pruned”, seemingly killing him. Renslayer takes Loki and Sylvie to the Time-Keepers, during which Sylvie asks Renslayer why she was first arrested, though Renslayer claims not to remember. The Time-Keepers order Loki and Sylvie to be deleted, but B-15 frees the pair of their restraints. Loki and Sylvie team up to fight and defeat Renslayer and the Time-Keepers’ guards, though B-15 is knocked unconscious. Sylvie beheads a Time-Keeper, only to learn they are all androids. As Loki attempts to tell Sylvie about his feelings, Renslayer recovers and prunes him. Angered, Sylvie overpowers her and demands the truth about the TVA.

In a mid-credits scene, Loki awakens in another dimension and meets four other Loki variants, who ask him to join them in order to survive.

Easter Eggs: Richard E. Grant’s Loki variant is dressed in Loki’s silver age look. This is why he’s credited as “Classic Loki.” The scene where Sif and Loki interact is based on the Norse legend in which Loki cuts off her hair. In the legends, this eventually puts Thor on a quest that leads to the creation of Mjolnir.

The ruins of Stark Tower are visible behind Classic Loki. Except, this tower has “Qeng” not “Stark” on the facade. This is a reference to Qeng Enterprises, who acquired the tower from Tony Stark. This company was owned by Kang the Conqueror under the alias Mr. Gryphon.

Episode five: “Journey into Mystery”

Director:   Kate Herron

Writer:   Tom Kauffman

US Release Date:  July 7, 2021

Summary:  Time Variance Authority (TVA) Judge Ravonna Renslayer tells Sylvie that she does not know who created the TVA and that Loki was teleported to the Void, a dimension at the end of Time where everything the TVA prunes is dumped into and from which nothing has returned. They also deduce that the TVA’s creator is hiding in the timeline beyond the Void, where they cannot be detected. TVA mascot Miss Minutes and Renslayer stall for time until TVA Minutemen arrive. Facing capture, Sylvie prunes herself. After interrogating an imprisoned Hunter B-15, Renslayer instructs Miss Minutes to help her find the TVA’s creator.

Meanwhile, Loki learns from four time variants of himself – Alligator Loki, Boastful Loki, Classic Loki, and Kid Loki – that Alioth, a massive cloud-like creature, hunts and kills all life in the Void. Upon arriving, Sylvie briefly enchants Alioth before receiving help from former TVA member Mobius M. Mobius in escaping the creature.

Intending to rule, Boastful Loki betrays the other Lokis for a second Loki group led by President Loki. However, the Lokis betray each other, sparking a fight. Classic Loki helps Alligator Loki, Kid Loki, and Loki escape and eventually find Sylvie and Mobius. Using a TemPad Sylvie stole from Renslayer, Mobius chooses to return to the TVA and reveal the truth about the organization to its employees. He asks the Loki variants to come with him, but they stay behind.

After the variants escape, Loki attempts to distract Alioth so Sylvie can enchant it, but both fail until Classic Loki returns and creates a life-sized illusion of Asgard to distract Alioth, saving Sylvie and sacrificing himself in the process. Working together, Sylvie and Loki enchant Alioth, revealing a citadel beyond the Void, which they walk towards.

Easter Eggs: There is a small helicopter with “Thanos” written on it. It perfectly resembles the helicopter Thanos piloted in “Spidey Super Stories” issue 39 (published March, 1979), a simplified comic book adaptation of the Spider-Man spots on The Electric Company . The frog version of Thor, also known as Throg, is briefly seen when the variants descend into their hideout. He is trapped in a jar labeled “T365” (a reference to the issue of Thor in which the frog version first appeared) and trying to reach Mjolnir, which is buried next to him but out of his reach. Other objects are Yellowjacket’s head, TVA food trays, the Dark Aster, a helicarrier with the Hydra logo , a statue head of the Living Tribunal, and Kang’s Citadel.

Episode six: For All Time. Always.

Director:   Kate Herron

Writer:   Michael Waldron and Eric Martin

US Release Date:  July 14, 2021

Summary:  Loki and Sylvie enter the Citadel at the End of Time where they are greeted by Miss Minutes. She relays an offer from her master, “He Who Remains”, to return them to the Sacred Timeline while offering him sovereignty and her happiness. However, the duo reject the offer. At the Time Variance Authority headquarters, Judge Ravonna Renslayer receives information sent by He Who Remains via Miss Minutes. Mobius M. Mobius confronts Renslayer and both accuse each other of betrayal. Renslayer leaves to search for “free will” after overcoming Mobius’ attempt at pruning her. In 2018 Fremont, Ohio, Hunter B-15 is pursued by other TVA Minutemen until she reveals a variant of Renslayer, a school vice-principal, to prove that the TVA employees are variants.

Meanwhile, He Who Remains greets Loki and Sylvie, who are both surprised that he is “just a man”. Using a TemPad to avoid Sylvie’s attacks, He Who Remains reveals he can anticipate their actions because he has foreseen the past, present, and future and that he guided them to him. He also reveals that he created the TVA after several variants of himself discovered alternative universes and contacted each other in the 31st century. Several of them tried to conquer other universes, leading to a multiversal war. He Who Remains harnessed the creature Alioth to end it, isolate his timeline, and create the TVA to prevent further branches. As he has grown weary, he offers Loki and Sylvie a choice—kill him, end the singular timeline, and risk another multiversal war sparked by his variants, or succeed him in leading the TVA and managing the timeline.

As the timeline begins to diverge, He Who Remains finds he can no longer anticipate the future and Sylvie tries to kill him. Loki fights her, fearing He Who Remains might be right and pleading that he wants to keep her safe. They kiss, but Sylvie uses the TemPad to send Loki back to the TVA headquarters and kills a surrendering He Who Remains, unleashing a multiverse with timelines that cannot be pruned. Loki tries to warn B-15 and Mobius about He Who Remains’ variants, but they do not recognize him. Loki then discovers that a statue of one of the variants has replaced those of the Time-Keepers.

Who the heck is this guy?: Nathaniel Richards, a 31st-century scholar and descendant of Reed Richards’ time traveling father Nathaniel, becomes fascinated with history and discovers the time travel technology. He then travels back in time to ancient Egypt aboard a Sphinx-shaped timeship and becomes the Pharaoh Rama-Tut. He then travels forward to the 20th century where he calls himself the Scarlet Centurion, and fights the Avengers. Nathaniel then tries to return to the 31st century, but overshoots by a thousand years, discovering a war-torn Earth that uses advanced weapons they no longer understand. He finds it simple to conquer the planet, and reinvents himself as Kang the Conqueror. But this future world is dying, and so he decides to take over an earlier, more fertile Earth.

He fights the Avengers several times In his own time, Kang falls for the princess of one of his subject kingdoms, Ravonna, who does not return his feelings. During a fight, Ravonna is mortally wounded when she leaps in front of a blast meant for Kang, realizing she does love him after all. Kang places Ravonna’s body in stasis. Later in life, he retires as Kang and returns to the Rama-Tut identity, and helps the Avengers defeat his past self when he attempts to capture the “Celestial Madonna.” He was approached by the alien Time-Keepers to become their agent, preserving timelines rather than conquering them in exchange for immortality. He accepted and reinvented himself again, this time as Immortus.

My Take:  With the introduction of Kang the Conqueror and the focus of the multiverse, I believe I know where the next major arc is headed. I think we’re going to see a version of the “Avengers Forever” story. In that story, different Avengers from different times were assembled to fight Kang. I predict this will enable them to bring back Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansson. Speaking of which…

Next: Black Widow