Those who took a look at the trailer for Loki’s eponymous Disney+ series, which premiered during Disney’s recent investor day event, they undoubtedly noticed the heavy emphasis placed on three mysterious figures by the Time Variance Authority.
Initially, some viewers believed these three figures to be a reference to, if not depict a version of, the Living Tribunal, the cosmic Marvel entity responsible for keeping the universe in balance who was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe through Doctor Strange.
In the Master of Mysticism’s first solo film, Baron Mordo shows a staff to Stephen Strange and informs him that it was the staff of the celestial being, which he reveals to the newly accepted magician-in-training to actually function as more of a whip than a stick-fighting weapon.
After rewatching the scene a few more times, it becomes apparent that the figures are not The Living Tribunal, but rather the three-semi celestial figures recently introduced to Marvel’s cosmic ecosystem known as the Time Keepers.
History of the Keepers
First appearing in Thor #243 as the Time-Twisters, the Time-Keepers are the creation of He Who Remains, the final director of the TVA. They occupy the Citadel at the End of Time, existing at the focal point of the mulitverse’s intersections, and were created with the purpose to serve as teachers to the inhabitants of the ‘next’ universe.
Originally intended to serve as benevolent custodians of the time stream, the Time-Twisters were born flawed, and instead of observers and caretakers became a self-serving force of domination, dedicated solely to the pursuit of knowledge.
As such, the beings’ purpose would shift over time, with the Time-Twisters sometimes posing as the keepers of the time stream and at others manipulating key figures in order to alter various courses of history throughout the Marvel Multiverse.
Eventually, the single-minded actions of the Time-Twisters threatens to endanger the 50th century kingdom of Zarrko the Tomorrow Man, prompting the him to put aside his villainous history and enlist the aid of Thor, Jane Foster, and the Warriors Three in putting an end to the threat they presented.
After meeting with Thor and being informed of the eventual consequences his plan to create the Time-Twisters could unleash, He Who Remains chooses to abort his plan and instead focus on creating a better version of his intended guiding force, which would go on to be known as the Time-Keepers.
However, unbeknownst to their creator, the very fluctuations in their existence that led to their going rogue were caused by the multiple time paradoxes and divergent timelines created by He Who Remains’ attempt to scrap the Time-Twisters.
The Immortus/Kang connection
Eventually, the Time-Keepers would approach Kang the Conqueror in order to ask for his assistance in keeping tabs on a specific time period. Taking on the new title of Immortus, the Time-Keepers gift the time traveling conqueror with immortality and entrust him with overseeing the era of human history between 3000 – 4000 AD.
Interestingly, it is at this point in reality that many versions of Kang diverge. In one instance, he continues to serve as an agent of the Keepers. In another, he remains in his position as Kang the Conqueror, free to terrorize the time stream and The Avengers.
In the most dramatic branching off from his role as Kang, a young version of the immortal (who is portrayed as either a supposed descendant of Reed Richards or Doctor Doom, depending on which comic book storyline you’re following) rejects his future and returns to the past, taking on the role of Iron Lad and assembling the Young Avengers in an attempt to fight against his fate.
What’s also interesting to note here is Kang’s connection to the Time-Twisters. Both incarnations of the group try to use Kang for their purposes at various points in the comics and, like the classic Marvel villain, view the Avengers as formidable foes. In fact, throughout the comics, the beings see the superhero group as threats to the stability of the timeline.
There is a rich history surrounding the TVA and the Time-Keepers. It’s debatable if Gugu Mbatha-Raw, seen in the trailer sitting underneath a large relief of the three entities, will be playing one of their agents or the director of the TVA. If the former, she serves as another suit within a larger organization filled with suits. If the latter, she serves as a gender-swapped version of He Who Remains, which would theoretically make her She Who Remains.
Though we wrote about her role possibly being that of the director of the TVA more than a year ago, screenshots and subtitles from the Loki trailer indicate that Owen Wilson has filled that role, in a Marvel casting choice that decisively puts an end to the rumors that he would be playing Balder or Kang himself.
It’s been confirmed that Kang is confirmed for an appearance in the upcoming Ant-Man Quantumania, where he will be played by Jonathan Majors. However, this doesn’t necessarily rule out the possibility that a totally divergent version of the character could make an appearance elsewhere.
In particular, given the previous rumors surrounding Kang’s, it’s possible that Kelsey Grammar could play none other than Immortus, appearing as the character well ahead of Majors’ race-swapped debut.
There’s also the possibility, as some have speculated, that the shadowy cloaked figure seen in the trailer could be Kang, rumored to be portrayed by Kelsey Grammar. However, the figure could also just as easily be Enchantress or Female Loki, two noteworthy candidates put forward for the identity of Sophia Di Martino‘s as-of-yet-unconfirmed role.
But what do you think of the possibilities the Time Keepers could present to the Loki Disney Plus series? Sound off in the comments below or let’s talk about it on social media!