How the Loki finale sets up Ant-Man 3, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and beyond
Loki's season 1 finale unveiled the Disney+ drama's glorious purpose. Like every Marvel property, the time-hopping drama told a (relatively) self-contained story, but it also had major implications for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, the climactic ender confirms that Loki is the studio's most consequential Disney+ show yet because it has far-reaching consequences for not only several confirmed movies in Phase 4, but for things that haven't been announced yet but definitely appear to be in the offing.
In Loki's season finale (yes, season, because the show is the first Marvel/Disney+ series to be renewed), Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his female variant/love interest Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) came face-to-face with the man pulling the strings behind the Time Variance Authority: He Who Remains, a.k.a. Kang, played by Lovecraft Country star and recent Emmy nominee Jonathan Majors.
Known as Kang the Conqueror in the pages of Marvel Comics, Majors' time traveler is already confirmed as the main antagonist of Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania. While Sylvie stabbed Kang in the chest killing him, the ender already offered up an explanation for how he could possibly return in a movie that's not due until 2023 — one that goes beyond the rule that the dead don't stay dead in the MCU.
Before meeting his end, Majors' eccentric timeline puppeteer delivered a lengthy and very expository monologue explaining how and why he came to create the TVA in the first place. Many years ago (at least from his perspective), a version of Kang from the 31st century discovered the existence of the multiverse — an infinite number of parallel timelines existing on top of each other — which led to him meeting his other variants. Unfortunately, not every Kang was well intentioned, and this resulted in the ominously titled Multiverse War as they duked it out for control.
To end the conflict, the Kang variant in the finale weaponized Alioth, and then created the TVA to protect the Sacred Timeline and ensure nothing like that could happen again. For Sylvie, killing Kang meant finally getting vengeance for the pain he caused her. But in the grand scheme of things, it was also the most Loki thing she could do because it brought chaos to the Sacred Timeline, which started branching off in the finale, thus paving the way for many different versions of Kang (as well as other characters) to return and cause problems for, well, everyone.
Kang's death and the splintering of the timeline isn't just an issue for Quantumania, though. It will likely have an impact on several other movies, too. The first one is the next Doctor Strange film, which is fittingly titled Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular sorcerer and Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff, whose role in the sequel was set up in WandaVision.
Although Marvel hasn't revealed any plot details about the movie, out March 22, 2022, it doesn't seem like too far of a stretch to assume that Sylvie slaying Kang is at least partially responsible for the eponymous maddening multiverse. Ahead of Cumberbatch's return in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, though, he will first cast a spell or two in Spider-Man: No Way Home, which hits theaters Dec. 17, 2022, and is connected to the Strange sequel.
The catastrophic Loki finale sheds a bit more light on the Spidey threequel. We've known for a long time that Tom Holland's next turn as Peter Parker would tie into the multiverse because it includes Alfred Molina as Spider-Man 2's Otto Octavius, a.k.a. Doctor Octopus, and reportedly The Amazing Spider-Man 2's Jamie Foxx as Electro, and neither one of those films are considered MCU canon.
By unshackling the multiverse, Loki definitely made it easier for both characters to turn up in No Way Home. We've heard rumors that former web-slingers Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield would also appear, but Holland squashed those in February when he told Jimmy Fallon that "there is no cameo from the two boys." That being said, we should definitely take that with a grain of salt because it wouldn't be the first time a Marvel actor — or any actor, for that matter — has played coy to protect surprises. (Then again, it's not really much of a surprise already if pretty much everyone knows about it, but we digress.)
All of this taken together, it seems as though Loki's finale is essentially providing the backdrop against which multiple stories will take place. In the past, Marvel movies have dealt with the fallout from previous entries — like how Iron Man 3 was driven by what Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) experienced in The Avengers, or more obviously Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame — but it has never attempted something so ambitious like this, in which several movies are dealing with a problem created by one thing. In some ways, this seems to be what many hoped would happen between the movies and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. back in the day. Unfortunately, that never really came to pass, except for how S.H.I.E.L.D. explored the aftermath of Captain America: The Winter Soldier's HYDRA twist at the end of season 1 and most of its second season.
It's also important to consider how the Kang reveal plays into the future of the MCU beyond these two movies — specifically the potential introduction of the Young Avengers. Here's what EW's resident Young Avengers expert Christian Holub had to say about that:
Given that Hiddleston's God of Mischief was integral to setting up the Avengers in Phase 1, it makes sense that he's helping to push the universe forward in its post-Avengers future.