My understanding is that there were no multiverses going in parallel to the main timeline events of "Captain America", and multiverses started to branch after Kang died in the "Loki" series, (Apart from the old time before Kang/Time Variance Authority started).

If that is the case, then why has the Time Variance Authority not intervened in the events of Captain Carter in "What if...?"?

  • 1
    Because "What if...?" happens "after" Loki.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 12:24
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    I don't think so, the event is parallel to what happened in Captain America, the difference is that Peggy decided to stay in the room, causing the branch.
    – Mocas
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 12:27
  • The comment I left on the other recent related Q is relevant here: It happened before, during and after it. You can't really place the events of something that happens outside of time to within time as well. That said from the movie's point of view the destruction happened before as otherwise it wouldn't really make much sense to the viewer. Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 16:14
  • I.e. from the audience's point of view What If...? is happening after Loki. In universe though it happens "before" it... for whatever "before" means for an event that occurred outside of time. Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 16:15
  • The tva purges parallel realities only if Kang finds that the variance can lead to the birth of Kang The Conqueror. In this case Captain Carter's existence might not be a nexus event that leads to an evil Kang. So the reality stays within the sacred boundaries.
    – MovieMe
    Commented Aug 26, 2021 at 5:07

3 Answers 3


In order to understand the Sacred Timeline, you need to know about Kang the Conqueror and the Multiverse of Earth-199999, also known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe within the greater Marvel Multiverse. Note that there will be spoilers for Loki in this post, and especially episode 6. There is also a lot of this that was explained in writer interviews.

In the backstory for the MCU, there was in fact a multiverse, where every choice someone in the Earth-199999 universe made created a new timeline in this multiverse. Then, in the 31st century, an Earth scientist named Nathaniel Richards in each of these timelines discovered a way to travel between these universes. Many of the Richards were friendly, but there were also conquerors and tyrants, who wanted to conquer these new timelines and subjugate them. These variants are what's known as Kang the Conqueror, and they started the Multiversal War.

At one point, there was one variant of Nathaniel Richards, He Who Remains, who managed to control Alioth and used that power to take out all other variants of himself and establish a small group of timelines where Kang the Conqueror never existed and thus could never start the Multiversal War. This small group of timelines is called the Sacred Timeline, and it's that group what's the Time Variance Authority is protecting. So in effect, the TVA doesn't block ALL timelines from branching off from the Sacred Timeline, just those that would lead to Kang The Conqueror existing and starting a new Multiversal war. This was explained in a writer interview: https://screenrant.com/loki-show-kang-sacred-timeline-michael-waldron-response/

Now, there are 2 ways you could go from here to interpret how What-If fits into this system.

The first one is that these What-If scenarios are in fact just parallel timelines that the TVA doesn't see the need to prune, because they won't lead to an additional He Who Remains existing to start the Multiversal War. So in this context, the TVA won't intervene because it's still part of the Sacred Timeline.

The other interpretation is that after He Who Remains died, it collapsed the powers of the TVA to keep the Sacred Timeline pure across all of time and in effect allowed for timelines where Kang the Conqueror exists to split off from the Sacred Timeline. So now that the TVA no longer controls time and tries to keep the Sacred Timeline pure, these What-If scenarios are from these branched timelines that can once again appear all over the Sacred Timeline.

  • Thanks for the answer. Given that you are saying "there are 2 ways you can go from here" shows that the story telling isn't really clear. The first way is ok, and makes sense, only if later we don't find Kang appearing in parallel to the events before the "Endgame", but the second way doesn't make any sense. I won't accept your answer for now, and just wait on further episodes from "What if...?" to hopefully clear things out.
    – Mocas
    Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 10:39
  • @Mocas The events from Endgame are as they happened while the TVA was maintaining the timeline. It's time travel, so it's always really messy, but essentially, up until the events of the Multiversal War, branching timelines could occur. Then the Multiversal war erupted between various Kangs. Then He Who Remains started the TVA, which had the goal of preventing any more timelines where Kang would exist, and branching couldn't occur. Then when He Who Remains was killed, and branching could occur again. The Infinity Saga happened between the Multiversal War and the death of He Who Remains.
    – Nzall
    Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 14:11
  • I'm not sure if I'm misunderstanding you or if you've misinterpreted what Waldron is saying in that interview but the TVA protect/monitor all timelines it's just that not all deviations are enough to need their intervention. Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 16:12
  • @Nzall, cool, that's my understanding, " The Infinity Saga happened between the Multiversal War and the death of He Who Remains", which includes Captain America: First avenger events, meaning that the Captain Carter episode of "What if...?" is a branch where TVA is in power, why haven't they intervened stopping that branch from growing?
    – Mocas
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 12:19
  • @Mocas Either the TVA was still in power at the time, and they considered this branch event unlikely to cause a new Kang the Conqueror to be born; Or because of the events at the end of Loki S1, the TVA no longer has the near-omniscience of He Who Remains to monitor the timelines and branches can occur again. Note that there are 2 timelines here: the Sacred Timeline which records the MCU history, and the TVA/HWR timeline, which is a parallel timeline that is separate from the Sacred Timeline and effectively takes place outside of time as experienced by the people in the MCU.
    – Nzall
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 14:19

Loki shows Nexus events occurring in 1549, and when Loki was a child, which are both before the events of Captain America: The First Avenger.

Kang is at the "end of time", and his death allows branches to grow unpruned throughout the past.

The TVA is "for all time", not just for the future.

  • 1
    But that won't make sense, if branching in the past would eventually happen, how come the past as we watched it didn't have issues with other universes?
    – Mocas
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 12:41
  • 1
    Because everything else we watched was "before" Loki
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 12:50
  • Also, if that is actually the case, there is no point watching development in the main timeline after the events of "Endgame" and "WandaVision", as their past would have changed due to clashes with other universes, we don't really know if Thanos will manage to get all stones and snap, none of all the 21 film would be guaranteed to stay as they are due to clashed with other universes.
    – Mocas
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 12:54
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    not sure your answer is clear enough. I don't understand it.
    – Mocas
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 12:58
  • 1
    Ok fair enough. I can't accept your answer, I will wait for another one that explains it better.
    – Mocas
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 13:10

Loki Director Kate Herron has given some insight into this.

"So, there’s the branches, right, which is like the alternative 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 that are now connecting."

It’s almost like a bridge. If you imagine the branch, it is like another reality. But if the branch extends beyond a certain point, it will then connect to other physical timelines. […] 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."

The Direct speculates as follows:

The multiverse is obviously something at the very heart of Marvel's Phase 4, and probably long after as well. One of those many branches is likely the one that will cause some problems for Spider-Man in the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home. And any number of branches will surely play a part in the madness that Doctor Strange's next film hints at.

Madness is also the best word to describe trying to understand the concept of timelines and alternate realities. It's a tough nut to crack, but there's no doubt Marvel President Kevin Feige and co. are hard at work making sure everything makes sense and is utilized in a meaningful way.

Fans will be taking a deep dive into the multiverse fairly soon, as Marvel's What If...? is set to premiere on Disney+ on August 11. The show will explore multiple alternate timelines where certain events in the MCU went much differently . The What If...? trailer even teases that some of those said timelines may interconnect at some point —much like the bridge that Kate Herron referenced.

The Time Variance Authority works to preserve The Sacred Timeline from branching, but there are other major timelines which do not intersect with The Sacred Timeline... until the events at the close of Loki and perhaps Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. This interpretation of the facts allows for the What If... timelines to exist without interference from the Time Variance Authority.

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