The following contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame, the upcoming Loki series on Disney+, and theories thereof. Please proceed with caution.
Gotta love those Russo Brothers for sticking to their guns. They don’t back down, even when their screenwriters (and huge portions of the internet) say otherwise. We talked about how they maintained the movie’s time travel plot created multiple timelines and dimensions, even though the evidence on screen does not support it, and how writers Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus directly refute that reading. But, Russos gonna Russo, and now they’ve turned their attention to the MCU’s next big storytelling venture: Disney+ series. Specifically the upcoming Loki show.
In Avengers: Endgame, Loki absconds with the Tesseract during Tony Stark and Scott Lang’s botched attempt to steal it. Since we know Loki does indeed go back to Asgard with Thor so the events of Thor: The Dark World can happen, this seems like a pretty huge gap. Except, Steve Rogers’ time travel escapades put all the infinity stones back where they were, and he might spend some time trying to find Loki and put that version of events back together too.
The Russo say essentially this, but with details a bit weird. Quoth:
“Loki, when he teleports away with the Time Stone, would create his own timeline. It gets very complicated, but it would be impossible for [Cap] to rectify the timeline unless he found Loki,” Joe said. “The minute that Loki does something as dramatic as take the Space Stone, he creates a branched reality.”
“We’re dealing with this idea of multiverses and branched realities, so there are many realities,” Anthony said.
Firstly, to be clear – Loki takes the Space Stone, not the Time Stone. It’s also directly stated in Endgame that only removing infinity stones from their place in time will create branched or alternate timelines. The Space Stone has no time traveling properties and Loki doesn’t have any Pym Particles as far as we know. So he could be anywhere in space, but that instance of the Tesseract never left 2012.
Further in the interview, they talk more about how Captain America returned to Peggy Carter for Endgame‘s touching final moment. It seemed fairly clear to us that, after returning all the infinity stones to their specific point in time, Steve decided to reunite with Peggy and live a life of quiet domesticity while the frozen version of him, earlier in his own personal timeline, lived as had happened. Markus and McFeely stated as much.
But when asked if Cap is in a different timeline, the Russos said:
“Correct, so he would have to come back to this timeline in order to hand off the shield,” Joe said.
“There’s a question of, how did this separate timeline Cap come to reappear in this timeline and why?” Anthony added.
They then said future Marvel films or shows could answer this question.
I… I just can’t sometimes. This is a much more complicated, and frankly lunatic, reading of the events of the film, and one contradictory to what’s happening on screen.
BUT, I think the ultimate point stands: it’s certainly possible that either time traveling Steve Rogers, or (as would be more interesting, I think), an elderly but with-it Steve Rogers could appear in the Loki series at some point. That just depends on if Chris Evans has another bit of Captain America magic in him.
Disney+ launches in November.
Kyle Hill and I disagree 100% about the time travel in Endgame, but you should watch his very thorough explanation of that: