Oh “Loki,” you just couldn’t make things simple for us, could you? I can’t imagine anyone’s interested in rehashing the Great Time Travel Wars in the lead-up to “Avengers: Endgame,” when even the movie’s actual writers and directors disagreed over precisely how the narrative mechanism actually works in the MCU. Well, here we go again, because “Loki” season 2 is forcing us all to take a step back and reassess the nitty-gritty details of completely made-up tropes.
First, let’s address the established lore. In “Endgame,” Professor Hulk takes great pains to lay out the fact that, scientifically, it’s impossible for time travel into the past to affect what happens in the future. (You can refresh your memory with this hilarious clip.) Instead, any significant alteration simply creates a new branched timeline where its future is now unwritten and totally up for grabs. So when the Avengers staged their little time-heist to gather all the Infinity Stones to defeat Thanos, they weren’t changing their own pasts — they were creating new timelines (which were subsequently set right once Steve Rogers went back to put them all back into their proper places on the timeline). Still confused? Yeah, well, join the club.
In fairness, this pretty much lines up with the explanation featured in “Loki” season 1, but it’s the premiere of season 2 that potentially throws a wrench into things. If all that is true, how does Loki’s conversation with O.B. in the past suddenly make it so that he has the Temporal Aura Extractor ready to go in the present? It’s apparent that Loki’s actions in the past are having an effect in real-time in the present, so what gives? The answer, other than “Just go with it,” might be found in the TVA itself.