Loki Might Include the Most Important MCU World-Building Yet

Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been pretty elated this past week, after some major new details surrounding the franchise's future were unveiled as part of Disney Investor Day. As part of the presentation, Marvel Studios debuted footage from several of its upcoming Disney+ TV shows, including the first trailer for Loki. The new series is set to follow the ongoing adventures of Loki Laufeyson (Tom Hiddleston), a character who has fluctuated between being an antagonist and a genuine antihero across his decade worth of appearances in the MCU. The Loki trailer gave fans a lot to process -- the live-action debut of his "Vote Loki" costume, Easter eggs to his previous appearances, and Owen Wilson with a mustache. But throughout the trailer, one sentiment became clear -- the series could do some major work in terms of building out the canon of the MCU.

Almost from the get-go, fans knew that the Loki series would be messing with the MCU's timeline, with the titular character circumventing his death at the hands of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, and instead being pulled into a new story thanks to a mishap with the Tesseract in 2012 in Avengers: Endgame. Through a string of events, it seems like that snafu will put Loki within the crosshairs of the Time Variance Authority, an ominous organization tasked with ending realities and timelines that are deemed too dangerous to exist. The TVA sends Loki traversing across time and space to make up for his crimes, with the trailer teasing locations that include (but aren't limited to) a World War II battlefield, a post-apocalyptic future, and Loki becoming the MCU's version of DB Cooper.

The very idea of a Loki series - and the promise of Hiddleston's MCU return - have definitely been promising enough to fans, but the spectacle of the different locations and time periods in the series' trailer feel compelling in their own right, especially given what they could do to help flesh out the MCU as a whole. Yes, the franchise has been kicking for over a full decade, and has weaved in storylines set in other eras with films like Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain Marvel. But outside of the 1940s, the 1990s, and everything after 2008, there are huge swaths of the MCU's timeline that have yet to be properly explored in live-action, with everything introduced so far either being used to directly lead into Infinity War and Endgame, retreading ground that was covered in earlier installments, or seen as questionably-canonical.

Compared to the decades of lore in Marvel Comics - which haven't been afraid to get really weird or tangential with different timelines and eras if the narrative allows it - the MCU as a whole has been largely undercooked in that department. (Even the upcoming Marvel's Eternals movie, which is expected to span multiple eras of cosmic storytelling, will only be able to do so in a feature-length runtime, while also juggling the introduction of a dozen different new characters.)

Enter Loki, which revolves around a character who is known for his trickery and chaotic energy, working for an elusive time-hopping organization that has yet to even be mentioned anywhere else in the MCU. That combination of elements hint at a potential for Easter eggs, references, and introductions to corners of Marvel canon that could easily get unabashedly weird, without it directly needing to affect or even be acknowledged by the other parts of Phase 4. Sure, Loki might run into some old friends on his journey, but there's a sense that all bets are off regarding his story on the series. And in a roundabout way, that could provide us with one of the weirdest explorations of the MCU's canon in the process.

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Loki is set to be released exclusively on Disney+ in May of 2021. If you haven't signed up for Disney+ yet, you can try it out here.

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