Disney’s 2020 Investors Day turned out to be a mini Comic-Con Hall H panel. Sadly, we still live in a world where people with deep pockets do not want to attend something called a “Fandome,” so it was still referred to as Investors Day. But Lucasfilm, Pixar, Disney Animation, and Marvel Studios arrived with the goods. And leave it to Kevin Feige to just completely rattle fans’ brains with off-the-cuff announcements (“And uh we’re making Fantastic Four”) along with new casting and character details. Oh, and trailers. The good stuff.
In anticipation of its giant wave of Disney Plus shows, Feige debuted a new look at WandaVision, premiere trailers for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki, along with a first look at the animated What If...?. With only a month left before Scarlet Witch and Vision’s loopy jump to TV, and with the entire premise of What If...? being ecstatic canon-breaking storytelling, it was mostly on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki to tease the endless possibilities of the MCU’s jump to streaming. And they certainly delivered: Sam and Bucky’s spinoff soars to the scope of a Marvel movie, while the God of Mischief finally feels untethered by the grounded approaches of the early Thor movies. Consider us pumped.
But also consider us delirious. The deluge of Investors Day announcements left our heads spinning, and only in the morning after did we have time to process the nitty gritty of these trailers. For your consideration, here’s what we spotted after our third, fourth, umpteenth viewings of the new set of trailers.
Falcon and the Winter Soldier trailer Easter eggs
In terms of hinting at a broader Marvel Universe, the new Falcon and the Winter Soldier trailer didn’t have much to explore. But we did get a good look at villains new and old.
We got a good look at the foot soldiers of Flag-Smasher, an “anti-patriotism” or anarchist supervillain who has often run up against Captain America in the comics.
And Zemo, the aggrieved Sokovian survivor and mastermind of the Avengers’ schism in Captain America: Civil War, is back to start some trouble for Bucky and Sam.
Finally, Falcon and Winter Soldier marks the MCU debut of U.S. Agent, one of several “replacement” Captain America figures who, in the comics, has risen to prominence over the many times that Steve Rogers has been unable or unwilling to put on the costume.
Rumors have swirled — based on really deep cut references in the dressing of some Falcon and the Winter Soldier sets — that the series will take the Marvel Cinematic Universe where it’s never gone before. That is, to a place very closely associated with the X-Men, the city of Madripoor. The made-up “island somewhere in Southeast Asia” is your classic hive of scum and villainy, and if the show is indeed headed there, that’s likely what we’re seeing above.
That’s it for Falcon and Winter Soldier. If you really want some true Easter eggs, you need to turn to Loki.
Loki trailer Easter eggs
Meet the Time Variance Authority. We’ve known that the timeline- and multiverse border-policing bureaucracy was involved in Loki since Disney’s Superbowl 2020 sizzle reel (remember February 2020? I sure don’t). But the first real trailer gave us a much bigger introduction.
According to the subtitles on the trailer, Luke Wilson is playing Mobius M. Mobius (his friends call him Moby), one of the faceless bureaucrats in the TVA who has made the most appearances in Marvel comics. Just don’t be surprised if we see a lot of him, because in the comics, all of the bureaucrats of the Time Variance Authority are clones.
The trailer contained many mysterious shots where weird things were happening, but this one is particularly interesting for its depiction of a devil-like figure. In the Marvel Comics there’s really only one character who matches that description, and he might be the only devious trickster worse than Loki: Mephisto, essentially the Satan of the Marvel universe.
But returning to the Time Variance Authority, Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle, Black Mirror) seems to be playing a high ranking member of the organization. Here she is flanked by some of the armored officers who appear throughout the trailer. They are likely a version of the TVA’s enforcement arm, the Minutemen (ha ha), who are augmented by elite Judge-Dredd-parodying time cops who go by monikers like Justice Hope, Justice Might, and Justice Truth.
Hey, it’s the Black Widow! Maybe! We sure seem to be hopping around in alternate times, places, and timelines! Other shots in the trailer contain Avengers-era Stark Tower decor, a ruined New York City, a Roxxon version of Walmart, and some sets that could be any number of planets we’ve previously visited in the MCU.
There’s only one airport that looms large in the minds of the MCU, and it’s the one where the Avengers all punched each other in Captain America: Civil War. But look a little closer, and you’ll realize that it’s not just that everyone is a snappy dresser. This is not a modern airport.
It turns out that Loki might be winding up to “explain” one of the coolest unsolved crimes in U.S. history, in which a man highjacked a passenger plane, ransomed its passengers for $200,000 (in 1971 money), ordered the plane to take off again, and then leapt from it with a parachute and was never found or identified.
The final moment of the trailer is a clear reference to Christopher Hastings (Dr. McNinja) and Langdon Foss’ (Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier) Vote Loki miniseries. In the comic, which was published from June through September of 2016, Loki ran on a platform of (nervous laughter) lying to everyone.
But what might be even weirder is...
That they’re in a room with a Polybius arcade cabinet.
Polybius is the stuff of urban legend. The myth of Polybius involves an arcade machine that was supposedly test marketed in Portland, Oregon in the early ’80s. Players quickly became addicted to the game, the story goes, but suffered from psychoactive side effects. Adding to Polybius’ mystery are tales of man-in-black-style government agents monitoring the machines and collecting data about players’ behavior. Polybius has been cheekily referenced by The Simpsons and was eventually made into a real-life video game by Jeff Minter, developer of trippy fare like Tempest 2000 and Space Giraffe.
Loki’s inclusion of Polybius references something that (likely) didn’t exist in our timeline or reality, or could be a nod that the Norse trickster himself was somehow tied to its mysterious nature.