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[SPOILER WARNING!]

So, in the events of Multiverse of Madness, all the characters seem to be very aware of the Multiverse's existence, as if it were common knowledge. However, the MCU made no mention of it until the TVA in Loki.

At the end of the Loki series, the TVA was explained to have existed to remove alternate timelines. This, to me is the same as a multiverse. The other reference to it was at the end of Spider-Man: No Way Home when Strange cast the spell, which began creating the rifts between realities; I.e. different universes colliding. In the movie, the Council from the other dimension spoke of events that had occurred prior to the events of this one, i.e. Thanos. But that was also prior to Loki, when the timelines split into alternate timelines. Now, I know that "Alternate Timelines" and "Alternate Realities" or "Dimensions" are not "Different Universes" explicitly, so if that is a key to this explanation, that's fine.

So my question is:

How is the Multiverse managed? Is it treated as something that had always existed? Was it something that was created by the events of Loki, in which case all the events occurred at the same time, merely in different ways, and thereby the main timeline was the only "visible" one? Or, since Strange had already considered all other options to ensure the Avengers' victory over Thanos, did it already exist, and was simply inaccessible to everyone else until the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home? Or was it something else entirely?

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  • There has always been a multiverse, but He Who Remains created the TVA to clamp down which branches of the multiverse were possible by stopping specific events from happening in all timelines. Timelines are basically specific branches from some common event in multiple realities. So the "golden timeline" was actually a set of multiple timelines which were similar enough in form that they could never lead to his variants coming into existence, but there could be significant differences between those realities otherwise. Normal characters would have no idea about the limitation though.
    – Derek
    May 30, 2022 at 4:08
  • We’re talking about time here in relation to some events happening outside of it. In short prior to Loki out of universe the multiverse doesn’t really exist (it does but same events because of the TVA) but after it, it does. I’m universe though the multiverse has always both not existed and always existed. Just think of it like anything past Loki meaning the multiverse is a possibility and prior to it not really.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    May 30, 2022 at 6:24

1 Answer 1

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In Loki S01E01, Miss Minutes stated that the Time-Keepers reorganised the Multiverse into a single timeline, the Sacred Timeline, but this wasn't quite true.

MISS MINUTES: Long ago, there was a vast multiversal war. Countless unique timelines battled each other for supremacy, nearly resulting in the total destruction of... well, everything. But then, the all-knowing Time-Keepers emerged, bringing peace by reorganizing the multiverse into a single timeline, the Sacred Timeline.

Loki - S01E01 - "Glorious Purpose"

In Loki S01E06, He Who Remains hinted at the truth when he said that he isolated the Sacred Timeline.

HE WHO REMAINS: I weaponized Alioth and I ended... I ended the Multiversal War. Once I isolated our timeline, all I had to do was manage the flow of time and prevent any further branches. Hence, the TVA.

Loki - S01E06 - "For All Time. Always."

This was further clarified by the director of Loki season 1, Kate Herron, who revealed in an interview with Murphy's Multiverse that there were always other timelines existing outside the Sacred Timeline, like other trees in a forest. When the TVA stopped pruning the branches of the Sacred Timeline in Loki S01E06, this allowed new branches to extend far enough outward from it to reconnect with the wider Multiverse that was out there all along.

KATE HERRON: So what we have is like... so, there's the branches, right, which is like the alternate reality. But then something, you'll see it, it's very subtle, but in the very last shot where you see the multiverse, there's like basically other bigger physical timeline branches. So, it's almost like these different separate trees are now connecting, is probably the best, I guess, shorthand way I could have of explaining it. It's almost like the branches of different trees are connecting.

CHARLES MURPHY: Well, that becomes the concern is those branches that will intersect with each other.

KATE HERRON: Yeah, it's almost like a bridge, like, if you imagine the branch... it is like another reality, but like if the branch extends beyond a certain point, it will then connect to other physical timelines. That's the best way I can describe it. Maybe like a bridge to another land, I guess. But if people... that last shot we did, there are other like thicker [branches] that are meant to be like our timeline. And there are other timelines like that, and the branches are the connectors, basically.

EXCLUSIVE: ‘Loki’ Director Kate Herron Explains Marvel’s Interconnected Multiverse

I believe this is the "last shot" from Loki S01E06 that Herron mentioned in the quote above. Apparently, this tangled mess of cosmic spaghetti was meant to be a visual depiction of the Sacred Timeline reconnecting with the wider Multiverse, although this wasn't verbally stated at any point within the series itself.

enter image description here

Given what was shown in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it would appear that the universe the Illuminati existed in -- Earth-838 -- was part of the wider Multiverse that was already out there, rather than being one of the newly-formed branches of the Sacred Timeline, spawned as a result of the events of Loki S01E06.

It would also appear that knowledge of the existence of the Multiverse was not as rare in other realities, such as Earth-838, as it was in the Sacred Timeline. This may be because the TVA didn't directly police those other realities, although we can't be sure.

That said, the Sacred Timeline's versions of the Ancient One, Wong, and Mordo all used the term 'Multiverse' in Doctor Strange (2016), implying that they were aware of its existence prior to the events of Loki.

THE ANCIENT ONE: Learning of an infinite multiverse included learning of infinite dangers. And if I told you everything else that you don’t already know, you’d run from here in terror.

Doctor Strange (2016)

WONG: You might have a gift for the mystic arts, but you still have much to learn. Word of the Ancient One’s death will spread through the Multiverse. Earth has no Sorcerer Supreme to defend it. We must be ready.

Doctor Strange (2016)

MORDO: Mastery of the sling ring is essential to the mystic arts. They allow us to travel throughout the multiverse.

Doctor Strange (2016)

Mordo's statement specifically suggests that the Multiverse was both known to exist and accessible to certain denizens of the Sacred Timeline, even at this time.

The Ancient One also seemed to be aware of how Nexus Events trigger the formation of new, branched realities (without necessarily being familiar with the TVA or their specific jargon), judging by this scene from Avengers: Endgame (2019).

THE ANCIENT ONE: The Infinity Stones create what you experience as the flow of time. Remove one stone and that flow splits. Now, this may benefit your reality, but my new one... not so much. In this new branched Reality, without our chief weapon against the forces of darkness, our world will be overrun. Millions will suffer. So, tell me, Doctor, can your science prevent all that?

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

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