Disney+ dropped a Marvel Cinematic Universe-centric teaser during last Sunday's Super Bowl that showed off clips from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, and WandaVision. And though the spot was fast-paced, it may have revealed a lot more than was obvious at first glance.
Eagle-eyed Marvel Studios analysts that we are, we pored over the clips after their release, and we picked out some funky Easter eggs you may have spotted - and some you may have missed.
What can a couple of scattered minutes tell us about Disney+'s MCU shows? Well, maybe quite a lot - read on to find out.
Who Will Wield The Shield?
It’s not definitive, but it sure looks like the shield carried presumably by Wyatt Russell’s John Walker (at what seems to be his public debut) in the footage for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a different model from Steve Rogers’ original. The straps have a different placement on the frame and look a little bit different from the familiar version.
That adds up – Sam’s got Steve’s shield, it's right there in the teaser where he’s learning to fling it. Could the one carried by Walker be the Stark prototype Happy Hogan mentioned in Spider-Man: Homecoming – back before Steve even retired or bequeathed the original to Sam?
Unofficial set photos which showed Russell in costume with an authentic-looking shield from the front indicate that the rally seen in the teaser could be his debut as the new government-sponsored U.S. Age and maybe even more likely Captain America - a potentially hotly contested role both among Steve Rogers' potential inheritors and the general public. After all, Steve himself passed on the shield to Sam Wilson - and he ain't the one getting this fanfare.
That reflects aspects of comic book history; when John Walker took over as Captain America in the 1980s after Steve Rogers relinquished the identity over disagreements with orders from the government, Steve himself wound up being so dissatisfied with Walker’s performance as Cap that he donned a new suit with a new shield and took him on directly. Steve later resumed his identity as Cap, passing the new outfit and shield on to Walker, who wore them as U.S.Agent.
And of course, the question of who should wield the shield has come down to Bucky and Falcon before, with each having taken turns as Cap (with both also suffering embattle public images in the role for different reasons). Concept art resembling the U.S. Agent suit indicates that Sam could eventually take the mantle of Captain America officially in the course of the show, leaving Walker to move on to being U.S. Agent as in comics.
As for Bucky, in another shot he's spotted dropping a handful of bullets in front of Zemo after confronting him. Could this be a challenge of some kind? Or is it an indicator that Zemo's one-time mental manipulation of Bucky is back on the table?
Loki: Agent of the Multiverse?
So what’s up with Loki? In the all-too-brief glimpse at his show he's wearing what looks like a prison uniform with what appears to be a logo for a familiar group to longtime Marvel Comics readers – the Time Variance Authority.
But for those who aren’t versed in 1980s Marvel lore, what exactly is the TVA?
Created by Walt Simonson and Sal Buscema partially in honor of then-editor Mark Gruenwald (whose distinctive likeness graces the managers of the comic book TVA), the Time Variance Authority monitors Marvel’s Multiverse, intervening in timelines where the safety of reality is at stake.
The TVA is a bit of a catch-all for semi-silly references to other time travel/interdimensional characters from pop culture including the Doctor, Judge Dredd, and more - but their job is often deadly serious, sending them into conflict with other time travelers such as Kang the Conqueror (a fan-favorite villain choice for the MCU in his own right).
What does that tell us about Loki? Well, he’s probably in some big trouble for stealing the Tesseract and escaping to who knows where in Avengers: Endgame, creating a branched timeline where he’s on the loose with an Infinity Stone. Just a refresher - Endgame establishes that the MCU's Multiverse doesn't just comprise alternate dimensions, but separate timelines created when time travelers alter past events (as with Loki). The God of Mischief has even had a few comic book run ins with the TVA in recent years.
Sounds like something such a group might step in to correct, no? Perhaps we’re about to see Loki as an agent of the TVA – which also has comic book connections to another upcoming Disney+ character, She-Hulk. In comic books, the TVA continued their fourth-wall breaking tradition by hiring her law firm to litigate a Marvel Comics retcon. (Hmm...)
Not to mention Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which (as pointed out by the title) involves these interdimensional concepts. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige previously said the film would connect directly to Loki - and which also co-stars WandaVision's Wanda Maximoff (more on that later).
WandaVision promises some big twists just based on the staccato glimpses of the show seen in the trailer. From rapidly changing looks that echo different eras of classic sitcoms to an appearance from Wanda’s classic comic book costume, the WandaVision teaser may have had the most to say about its show.
For one thing, those ever-changing looks may hint that Wanda and Vision will move through different realities, or that reality will shift around them. Given Wanda’s classic comic book reality-altering powers and her involvement in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it’s not impossible that the Multiverse itself will be a key part of that show. Then there's that little matter of the TVA in Loki, which also directly connects to Multiverse of Madness - could the TVA factor in here too, or in Multiverse of Madness where Strange will purportedly investigate the destruction of the Time Stone at Thanos' hands?
And of course, among the shifting looks Wanda sports in the teaser is a shot of her apparently pregnant – followed by a brief glimpse at Wanda and Vision standing over a pair of cribs.
This of course seems to be a reference to Speed and Wiccan, the sorta-magically-created twin sons of Vision and Wanda who are core members of the original Young Avengers (and there's of course a Full House joke in here somewhere - Elizabeth Olsen's twin sisters Mary-Kate and Ashley famously co-portrayed Michelle Tanner on that classic 80s/90s show). They have an extremely complicated history involving demonic possession, soul transfer, fake bodies – the kind of stuff that, in MCU terms, will probably have a much more streamlined explanation.
The World Outside Your Window (of Time and Space)
All of that seems to add up to time travel, alt-realities, the Multiverse, and the Time Variance Authority playing a much larger role in the next phase of the MCU - and that could have some serious ramifications for things like, say mutants or the Fantastic Four.
That emphasis on the Multiverse and time travel opens up the door to villains like the aforementioned Kang and his various incarnations, and maybe even a way to incorporate aspects of the former Fox X-Men universe that will remain - such as Deadpool, who once took on the TVA to rescue Cable who they had mistaken for his own evil clone.
This could also be the key to explaining those MCU references in Sony's Morbius trailer - and potentially of separating Spider-Man's world from the MCU when the time comes.
That's nothing definitive of course - but when the Multiverse is in play, basically anything and everything is possible.