Season 2 of Loki is on its way to Disney+ soon, and the Marvel show will see the return of Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Owen Wilson as Mobius, Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror, and, of course, the Time Variance Authority. To find the origins of this mysterious bureaucracy, one must travel far before the organization appeared in the MCU, back to its comic book debut in 1986.
The Origin Of The Time Variance Authority
Marvel first introduced the Time Variance Authority in Thor #372. It was created by writer Walter Simonson and artist Sal Buscema. The organization was imagined as an efficient bureaucracy composed mostly Chronomonitors, faceless beings created to monitor the events of a particular universe on a special computer.
Other Marvel Comics storylines explored ideas similar to the Time Variance Authority; the Dimensional Development Court was introduced in an issue of The Daredevils in 1983, with a Captain Britain storyline dubbing the main Marvel timeline as Earth-616.
The TVA was later used in place of the Dimensional Development Court, taking over as the Marvel Universe’s official keepers of reality. Operating outside of time, the vast network of Marvel timelines is kept in check by the Time Variance Authority. The organization purges time criminals and other disturbers of the multiverse, erasing them from existence.
Marvel heroes like Thor, She-Hulk, and the Fantastic Four have all had run-ins with the Time Variance Authority, with comics introducing characters like Mr. Mobius. Mobius, like all Chronomonitor managers, is a clone.
Simonson and Buscema used their resident Marvel canon expert, Mark Gruenwald, as a model for the clones; Gruenwald’s work at Marvel is credited as helping establish the concept of the multiverse in comic books. Longtime Marvel writer Tom DeFalco was later used as the model for the TVA managers.
In addition to its clones and faceless drones, the TVA also hires mercenaries from throughout time to help complete its more dangerous missions. Justice Peace, who appeared in Thor #371, is one such character.
The Time Variance Authority In The MCU
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Time Variance Authority looks a little different. The organization, as established in Season 1 of Loki, operates outside of time, not for the preservation of the multiverse but the prevention of it.
Agents prune variants created by time travel from the Sacred Timeline in order to keep the singular universe intact. It is later revealed by He Who Remains, the being at the end of time responsible for the creation of the TVA, that this effort was in order to prevent the coming of a multiversal tyrant called Kang. He Who Remains knows that Kang would instigate a war throughout the multiverse because he is a variant of Kang.
Simonson and Buscema used their resident Marvel canon expert, Mark Gruenwald, as a model for the clones; Gruenwald’s work at Marvel is credited as helping establish the concept of the multiverse in comic books.
The Marvel show does away with the faceless drone idea for its version of the Time Variance Authority. It also psyches the audience out by making the Time-Keepers, the supposed creators of the TVA, actually androids built as a ruse by He Who Remains. He then made his workforce believe the Time-Keepers created them, while they are actually variants selected and brainwashed by He Who Remains.
As Loki traverses the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the Time Variance Authority, he experiences its seemingly infinite workforce and offices. Loki becomes the assistant of Mr. Mobius, portrayed in the show by Owen Wilson, as they hunt down a dangerous Loki variant called Sylvie.
They are aided by Hunter B-15, a time-traveling enforcer for the TVA, played by Wunmi Mosaku. Season 2 will introduce Everything Everywhere All at Once actor Ke Huy Quan as O.B., loosely based on the comic book character Mr. Ouroboros.
Marvel became much more complex with the invocation of the multiverse, and despite its best efforts, the Time Variance Authority does little to alleviate the confusion. Hopefully, we have done a better job. The TVA will return in season 2 of Loki, premiering October 5 on Disney+.