Warning: SPOILERS for Loki episode 4.

Loki may have inadvertently given Marvel Studios a perfect out when it comes to recasting major characters in MCU Phase 4 and beyond. Now that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been around for 13 years, many people are bowing out, choosing to wrap up their storylines neatly or be killed off in order to make way for the next generation of superheroes. Much of this happened in Avengers: Endgame, which ended The Infinity Saga, but thanks for Phase 4's story arc, there's room for some characters to return.

Throughout the spinoff stories on TV and the prequels and origins on film, the one overarching theme is the multiverse. Thanos and his Infinity Stones were only the beginning; the MCU is now taking things to a new level by incorporating alternate universes (in addition to alternate timelines). The story will appear to culminate in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness - but before that happens, characters from other universes will return in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Both movies highlight the potential for bringing back people from other franchise and even seeing familiar people return to the fold after either dying or moving on. For instance, what if Edward Norton could return as Hulk, or Tom Cruise actually appear as Iron Man?

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Related: Every Loki Variant Confirmed In The MCU

Normally that wouldn't be possible given the perception that alternate versions of characters would still be played by the same actor. However, Loki episode 4's post-credits scene set a precedent in the MCU for having varying versions of characters by showing four new Loki variants; variants don't actually have to be the same person. Of course, this reveal built upon Sylvie's existence, though for a time it seemed as if she was a unique case, the one female Loki. But it turns out that's not true at all. While many Lokis look like Tom Hiddleston, they aren't all him - and the MCU can utilize this explanation.

Loki episode 4 new variants post credits scene

If Marvel needed Iron Man for a scene in a future Avengers movie and Robert Downey Jr. couldn't return, then the studio could simply recast him - briefly - and not ruin the story that came before. Furthermore, if Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield really do return as their respective Spider-Man, it's easy to explain away why they're so different from Tom Holland's version. Conceptually, this isn't a big deal in the comics, but for a film franchise that has banked on certain portrayals of characters, it's a clever way to avoid writing into a trap.

This particular detail is something Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse already tackled somewhat with various versions of Spider-Man coming into Miles Morales' universe. While the characters in that story weren't all variants of the same person, such as those in Loki (and the MCU), the fundamental idea and delivery could work for Marvel Studios' franchise. Audiences didn't have a problem with that, and so far, it looks like the approach of variants has worked out for Loki.

Next: Loki: Every MCU Easter Egg In Episode 4

Loki releases new episodes every Wednesday on Disney+.

Key Release Dates
  • Black Widow (2021)Release date: Jul 09, 2021
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)Release date: Sep 03, 2021
  • Eternals (2021)Release date: Nov 05, 2021
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)Release date: Dec 17, 2021
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release date: Mar 25, 2022
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever/Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
  • The Marvels/Captain Marvel 2 (2022)Release date: Nov 11, 2022
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)Release date: Feb 17, 2023
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)Release date: May 05, 2023
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