I am still trying to make up my mind on Loki season 2, as while it’s nice to see Mobius and Loki back, things are getting…a bit weird in episode 2 here. Weirder than usual, in any case, and not in a particularly good way.
This week was supposed to contain a “jaw-dropping” moment in which a rogue TVA general bombed a bunch of new timelines “killing” billions if not trillions of people in those branches. I’ve heard some superfans comparing it to Thanos’ snap in terms of the scale of destruction, but in reality, I think it shows just how little weight the multiverse carries.
In Loki, the multiverse was only spawned…two episodes ago. These branches did not exist before two episodes ago. Past that, we barely visited one or two branches after that, and in this mass branch bombing, I don’t think any character died we’d ever met, unless you’re counting infinite versions of the Avengers or everyone else in the MCU because that’s how the multiverse works.
But narratively, it just doesn’t work. Not in the way the MCU is presenting it in Loki. There are no stakes here. You’re telling me you killed trillions of people, but it’s hard for that to carry any weight at all when those branches appear to be a few hours old and full of no one we actually know (I am still unclear on how a single TVA agent could walk into a timeline and blow up an entire universe instantly, as that seems like a stretch, but whatever).
The Thanos snap worked because it affected character we’d known for years, or even over a decade. No, I don’t think anyone believed that Marvel just permanently killed half its characters, but the dramatic impact of the scene and the loss was still felt. It was a culmination of years of getting to know these characters and watching them evaporate before our eyes. The TVA, meanwhile, is expecting us to mourn trillions of people we’ve never seen or met.
This isn’t the only film where the multiverse doesn’t work. I’d argue the same for Multiverse of Madness, specifically the sequence where Scarlet Witch kills the Illuminati, full of alternative universe versions of characters we know but it…still felt like nothing. Like a fan service gimmick just to see who would show up playing who. And five minutes later, they were all dead. Fun scene maybe, zero dramatic weight.
I’d argue the only time I’ve seen the multiverse work in the MCU so far has been in Spider-Man: No Way Home, but that’s only because it brought in characters we did have a connection to in other Spider-universes, even if I think we all knew they weren’t about to murder Toby Maguire in front of us. But it still worked.
As such, maybe it can work if Marvel does this big FOX X-Men crossover thing that appears to be happening, sparked by Deadpool and perhaps making its way into the Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars. But I am really, really looking forward to getting out this era, as I don’t think it’s been working at all.