Explaining the Time Variance Authority in the LOKI Trailer

Rosie Knight
·5 min read

While we may still be picking apart the mysteries of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Disney treated us to a look at their next big Marvel series. The new trailer for Loki is filled with fun tidbits. But there’s one question many fans have begun asking: What’s the Time Variance Authority? The surreal Owen Wilson-led organization seems to play a big part in the new series, and has an interesting comic book history. Plus, they’re closely tied to characters key to the MCU’s past and future. So we’re here to answer all your big TVA questions and theorize on their impact going forward!

What is the Time Variance Authority?
Loki and Mobius M. Mobius sit at the Time Variance Authority
Loki and Mobius M. Mobius sit at the Time Variance Authority

Marvel Studios

The organization was first introduced in Thor #371 by Walt Simonson and Sal Buscema. If you’re a fan of those storytellers, you’ll know they’re two of the most inventive and imaginative in the Big Two business. That’s why it shouldn’t surprise you that the TVA is weird as hell and often features in wildly ambitious tales. The agency’s first appearance was a riff on the iconic British comics series 2000 AD. A heavily armed character named Justice Peace causes chaos on Earth as he flies through the skies, implanting jaywalkers with control chips. It’s a silly take on Judge Dredd, but it’s also a key part of TVA history. Justice Peace is the first member of the intergalactic time police that we ever meet.

Since its proper debut in the next issue, the TVA has been embroiled in the Marvel Universe and its flow of time. The group acts as an independent force for making sure no one messes up the timelines. But as you can imagine, their mission puts them on a collision course with heroes and villains alike. Speaking of heroes, the TVA has big connections to the Fantastic Four. On the more villainous side is Kang the Conqueror. We know that he’ll appear in the upcoming Ant-Man sequel Quantumania, so don’t be too surprised if Loki alludes to the character. The odds are likely considering a TVA member shares a name with a key character from Kang’s lore. (Judge Renslayer, that is.)

Masters of the Multiverse
A page from Marvel Comics showing blaster-wielding soldiers representing the TVA.
A page from Marvel Comics showing blaster-wielding soldiers representing the TVA.

Marvel Comics

Interestingly, in the comics the TVA also keeps track of the multiverse. They have the ability to destroy or change timelines if they deem them unsafe. This could definitely be the group’s purpose in the MCU too, given the countless timelines we saw in the Loki trailer and upcoming Multiverse of Madness. Significantly, it may have been Loki and the Avengers’ actions in Endgame that sparked multiple new timelines and timeflow chaos. (Rather than—as many expected—Wanda’s shenanigans in her recent TV debut.) Either way, it looks like we’ll get some answers in Loki.

What do they want with Loki?
Loki holds the Tesseract--which holds the Space Stone--in Avengers: Infinity War
Loki holds the Tesseract--which holds the Space Stone--in Avengers: Infinity War

Marvel Studios

In the context of the MCU, this one actually has a pretty simple answer. During the events of Endgame, Loki from 2012 (The Avengers) stole the Tesseract, jumping back into time with it. As we know, the entirety of the universe relied on one thing in that movie. The Avengers had to return each Infinity Stone to the time and place whence it was taken. Of course, when Loki stole the Tesseract—which included the Space Stone—that did not occur. So Owen Wilson and the TVA have now enlisted him to help fix the time troubles he has created. But Loki isn’t so easily manipulated and will likely try to use the TVA as much as they use him.

How could they introduce the Fantastic Four?
The cover of the Fantastic Four comic, "So Little Time, So Much to Do"
The cover of the Fantastic Four comic, "So Little Time, So Much to Do"

Marvel Comics

While we’re going to talk about the more general future of the MCU next, this question does deserve its own tangent. As we know, the Fantastic Four are coming, and the TVA is so closely connected to them. Walt Simonson brought the time monitors over from Thor into his subsequent run on the Fantastic Four in 1990. Some escapades in prehistory put the foursome on the TVA’s radar in Fantastic Four #346. A few issues later in #352, a null time battle between Reed Richards and Doctor Doom leads to more temporal misconduct. The TVA intervenes, bringing the heroes before the Sub-Committee of Time Lapses and Synchronicity in #353.

It’s possible tat we could catch a mention or glimpse of the legendary Marvel team while Loki tangles with the TVA. With Loki supposedly restoring timelines, he could even get involved in one of the FF’s time-centric adventures. More likely, however, is that this opportunity simply presents another chance for Feige to troll us. Remember the much-anticipated aerospace engineer from WandaVision?

What does the TVA mean for the series and the MCU going forward?
Loki wears his horned helmet and a three-piece suit before his army.
Loki wears his horned helmet and a three-piece suit before his army.

Marvel Comics

Aside from the obvious Fantastic Four connections, the TVA represents something equally exciting. The MCU has long been steeped in military-heavy realism. But the inclusion of this strange new authoritative body moves us slightly more towards the weirdness of comics. While we know S.W.O.R.D. will play a part going forward, the idea of having the TVA as a key player in future movies means that we could have multiversal adventures as well as grounded military action. And then there are their connections to all those major Marvel players. Quantumania will likely see the Quantum Realm finally recognized as the alt-universe it is in the comics. Maybe the TVA isn’t too happy with Scott Lang about that?

We know from the trailer that they class extraneous versions of heroes as variants. Could this be how we see the return of Iron Man and Captain America? Different “variant” versions from other timelines? In the comics, the TVA regularly captured time travelers and those who messed with time; meaning, we could also meet new foes they’ve captured along the way. Plus, one of the most interesting things for comics fans is potentially learning their origin. In the comics, the true origin of the group has never been revealed. Maybe that could change in the MCU? Whatever happens, this is an exciting new frontier for the Marvel world. And, of course, it means that we’ll likely see a Thor/Loki reunion at some point in the future… awww.

Featured Image: Marvel Studios

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