Everyone knows fine well that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a well-oiled machine overseen by Kevin Feige, so it’s definitely not a coincidence that the first episode of Marvel’s What If…? arrives hot on the heels of Loki‘s Season 1 finale, after the solo series for Tom Hiddleston’s trickster kicked open the doors to the multiverse.
After all, Jeffrey Wright’s the Watcher ominously intones that what we’re about to see in each installment unfolds in a different pocket of the multiverse, a concept that’s very fresh within the context of the MCU. We’ve even heard hints from the creative minds involved in What If…? that some of the story threads may even end up being paid off or continued in live-action, creating all sorts of tantalizing possibilities.
Branched timelines are now officially a storytelling device, and that’s the entire basis of What If…?‘s nine episode run. Loki‘s sixth and final episode directly informs everything that happens in the animated show in one way or another, so it’s all technically canon. There are now an infinite number of realities packed full of variants, superheroes, villains and events that would have been impossible beforehand, but anything and everything is now firmly on the table.
The MCU is woven together through numerous plot, story and character beats, so even though Marvel’s What If…? offers wild scenarios like zombie Avengers, T’Challa becoming Star-Lord and leading the Guardians of the Galaxy or Peggy Carter becoming a super solider, thanks to Loki it isn’t just wishful thinking or fan service. Depending on how the multiverse plays out from here, we could be looking at it years down the line as the single most pivotal entry in the Phase Four lineup.