Everything We Know, or Think We Know, About the Time-Keepers on ‘Loki’

·4-min read

(This article contains spoilers for “Loki” on Disney+ through the first two episodes)

If you’ve been keeping up with “Loki,” Marvel Studios’ latest limited series, then you know that the Time Variance Authority plays a major role in the show, recruiting Loki to help repair the timeline. However, the TVA’s founders, the Time-Keepers, are a far more mysterious entity. Who are they really? What if they turn out to be as unreliable as our mischievous hero?

We haven’t been told much about them on “Loki,” but here’s what we’ve got so far. Our introduction to these guys — who we have not actually seen yet — comes from Miss Minutes, the little cartoon clock who explains the TVA to new people. She gives this briefing when when Loki first arrives:

“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 timekeepers emerged, bringing peace by reorganizing the multiverse into a single timeline. The sacred timeline.

Now, the timekeepers protect and preserve the proper flow of time for everyone and everything. But sometimes people like you veer off the path the timekeepers created, we call those variants. Maybe you started an uprising or were late for work. Whatever it was, stepping off our path created a nexus event, which left unchecked, could branch off into madness, leading to another multiversal war.

But don’t worry, to make sure that doesn’t happen, the timekeepers created TVA and all its incredible workers.”

To sum all that up: there was a multiverse, and it was chaotic, and so the Time-Keepers stepped in with the TVA to introduce some order.

In the second episode, Mr. Mobius tells Loki about the TVA’s endgame once the Time-Keepers figure out how to stabilize the timeline from the impact of Nexus events — that’s where somebody manages to create a branching timeline, like the Avengers did with time travel in “Endgame.” Or like the possibly fake Lady Loki seemed to do at the end of the second episode.

“No more Nexus events. Just order. And we meet in peace at the end of time,” Mobius says.

Now, we should probably not take anything at face value on “Loki.” What we’re seeing here with the Time-Keepers is likely a Wizard of Oz kind of thing, where this trio of old guys is either dead or never existed. We speculated after the first episode that the antagonist on this show is actually an older version of the protagonist Loki — potentially played by Richard E. Grant, whose role remains unknown. It would be very Loki-ish for him to spend thousands of years outside of time and somehow actually orchestrate the creation of the TVA. Perhaps the end of the TVA, at the end of time, is also its beginning.

While that’s not at all how it is in the comics, Marvel has a shown a willingness to dramatically depart from a character’s source material in the MCU — think, for example, of the Mandarin in “Iron Man 3.” It would be a twist that is perfectly in line with how Kevin Feige and co. have handled certain threads in the past.

But that doesn’t mean that the comics are useless for trying to figure out what’s going on on “Loki.” There’s always some insight to glean, it just may not always be obvious until after the fact. So let’s take a look into the Time-Keepers’ past in the comics to see if it can provide any hints into their future in the series.

We’ll go ahead and get the biggest clue — as far as we can tell right now — out of the way. In the comics, the multiversal madness that led to the creation of the TVA actually happened in the distant future. While Miss Minutes says it happened “long ago” for the TVA, which exists outside of our perception of time, for those who are actually in the universe, whatever conflict causes the TVA to come into being hasn’t happened yet.

First appearing in a 1979 issue of “Thor,” the Time-Keepers were created on a second try. A character named He Who Remains, the last head of the TVA before his reality and entire universe were destroyed, sought to create a governing body that would prevent such a thing from happening again.

His first attempt resulted in the creation of the Time-Twisters, who ended up serving the opposite function that the Time-Keepers would later fulfill. Chaotic and flawed, the Time-Twisters destroyed numerous realities, leading Thor to step in and separate the current reality in two. He sent the Time-Twisters to one reality, leaving He Who Remains to create the Time-Keepers in the other. Charged with the task of protecting time, three Time-Keepers were willed into being, although it is said that a fourth was created and subsequently exiled to Egypt in 2950 BC.

That doesn’t mean the TimeKeepers are necessarily good guys though.

Their first run-in with the main Marvel timeline occurred when they tried to break up the Avengers, who they viewed as a threat to their authority. The TimeKeepers acquired a minion of sorts named Immortus that carried out much of their dirty work. However, Immortus would go rogue at times, rendering him a sometime-friend, sometime-foe to the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

As of the second episode, the main thing we think we know about “Loki” is that we should in no way trust what we’ve been told about the Time-Keepers thus far. Whether that means their real story on the show is more like the comics or something else entirely is something else. There are four more episode of “Loki” remaining.

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