This article contains spoilers for Loki episode 1.
Loki episode 1 “Glorious Purpose” has a lot of exposition to get through. Throwing the Marvel franchise’s God of Mischief into the orderly bureaucratic nightmare that is the Time Variance Authority is a fun idea. But dealing with time travel on any level creates some storytelling headaches.
Thankfully, Loki breakout star Miss Minutes (voiced by Tara Strong) arrives early on in the proceedings to provide a helpful explanation on what the TVA is and how they keep the Sacred Timeline sacred. Using animation straight out of a 1960s public service announcement, Miss Minutes details how the universe was once dominated by multiple timelines vying for supremacy until the Time Keepers stepped in to sort everything out.
Now the TVA makes sure the Sacred Timeline runs smoothly and stamps out any threats. But what kind of threats are there to the Sacred Timeline, exactly? If the Sacred Timeline is…well, sacred, and part of the Time Keepers’ divine plan, how could anything interfere with it? That’s where Variants and Nexus events come in. Miss Minutes and her animated short explain those concepts as well, but here’s a more detailed version of precisely what a Nexus event is.
Though most of the time the Sacred Timeline chugs along according to the Time Keepers’ grand design, every now and then an individual and their pesky free will can interrupt that timeline with their actions. This is called a Nexus event and could be something as grandiose as starting a war or as simple as being late to work. Individuals who engage in Nexus events are known as Variants. Loki became a Variant by picking up the Tesseract and fleeing in the alternate version of 2012. The fact that this was a Nexus event but the Avengers’ extensive meddling in the timestream was not is a good example of just how arbitrary the Sacred Timeline can be.
The TVA has been charged with identifying Nexus events and stamping them out by any means necessary. This is because if a Nexus event is left “untreated” for a certain amount of time, it will create a whole new timeline separate from the Sacred Timeline. The Time Keepers’ carefully curated monoverse timeline then runs the risk of becoming a full-on multiverse of timelines. And no one wants that…save for Loki, Marvel fans, and Marvel execs who will certainly make sure we get a multiverse in time for Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Speaking of “Madness,” Miss Minutes even mentions that multiple timelines will lead to it.
This is likely why Agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) looks at a little line graph on his device when investigating a Nexus event in 16th century France. Presumably, he is making sure that this Nexus event hasn’t carried on long enough to create a new timeline. A Nexus event’s ability to create a new timeline is also likely where it drew its name from. A “nexus” is a connection, a link, or a collected group or series. The point where a new timeline branches off from the Sacred Timeline would therefore logically be called a nexus of the two timelines.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard the word “nexus” in Marvel’s Disney+ series. Back in WandaVision’s seventh episode, there was a pharmaceutical advertisement for a drug called Nexus. The ad copy read:
“Feeling depressed? Like the world goes on without you? Do you just want to be left alone? Ask your doctor about ‘Nexus’ – a unique antidepressant that works to anchor you back to your reality or the reality of your choice. Side effects include feeling your feelings, confronting your truth, seizing your destiny, and possibly more depression. Nexus: because the world doesn’t revolve around you. Or does it?”
Being anchored back to your reality or the reality of one’s choice definitely seems apt for the concept of Nexus events introduced in Loki. Nexuses have also been a part of Marvel comics for decades. “The Nexus of All Realities” first appeared in 1972’s Fear #11. This was a cross-dimensional gateway where all possible realities intersect. Furthermore, Wanda Maximoff is often referred to as a “Nexus Being ” since she operates as a multiversal anchor. Kang the Conqueror (soon to be played by Jonathan Majors in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania) is another Nexus Being.
Basically, dialed down to its most literal interpretation, a nexus is the point at which two concepts, realities, or physical manifestations meet. For the TVA’s purposes in Loki, Nexus events are the point in which new timelines emerge from the Sacred Timeline. Will these new timelines lead to new universes throughout the next phase of Marvel’s Multiverse of Madness storytelling? Will Wanda play a more direct role as Na exus Being in contacting new universes to be reunited with her Westview children, Billy and Tommy?