Marvel’s Time Travel Reveal Changes Its Cosmic Lore Forever

Warning: spoilers ahead for Red X-Men #5!The tradition behind wonderThe cosmic side of is vast and has yet to be fully defined, but a new understanding of the function of their space-time continuum is reshaping how time travel works in the Marvel omniverse. Traditionally, Marvel lore holds that time travel cannot alter the future, but it can branch off the timeline to a reality with a different future. Red X-Men #5 Al Ewing’s Stefano Caselli, Federico Blee, VC’s Ariana Maher, and Jordan D. White seem to dispute that notion, and it seems writer Al Ewing has been tracing that thread through his Marvel titles for years.


The current understanding of time in Marvel lore is based on a bonding model. The future cannot be changed, but everyday actions as well as the intervention of time travelers can cause a singular timeline to branch into multiple realities. Immortal X-Men #3 by Kieron Gillen, Lucas Werneck, Dijjo Lima, VC’s Clayton Cowles, and Jordan D. White came out just a few weeks ago and solidified this idea from a Destiny perspective. Irene Adler’s mutant gift allows her to see these connection points as well as the events most likely to cause or result from them. With this knowledge, Destiny does not change the future, but rather acts to push and pull its present toward whatever potential timeline it finds most desirable. Irene isn’t the only powerful precognitive of the mutant species, and Krakoa’s sister society of mutants on the planet Arakko parallels Earth’s mutants in many ways. On Arakko, Red X-Men #5 focuses on Destiny’s opposite number within their governing body, the Great Ring. She is Idyll, and her existence introduces a broader reframing of Marvel’s time lore as a whole.

Related: Marvel Explains Perfectly How Kang’s Time Travel Powers Actually Work

Idyll is an Omega-level mutant with precognitive abilities. His name has a double meaning as his gift as a mutant allows him to see the “true future”, but his awareness of the objective future prevents him from acting in ways that change future events. As a result, she often remains inactive. This seems contrary to Marvel lore, as the perspective of Idyll presents a course of events that are set and will only ever happen one way. How can there be branches as well as a marked path? The truth is that Destiny’s perspective, and therefore the rest of Marvel lore, can co-exist with Idyll’s abilities. Destiny sees everything that can happen, while Idyll specifically sees what will happen. If Destiny is peering into particular futures and looking to alter the course of its timeline, or if a time traveler arrives in Marvel’s present to avoid their future, Idyll simply already knows their actions and their consequences. Time travel does not change the “true future”, rather it is a necessary part of the “true future” coming to pass. The only “true future” is filled with its own revisions and modifications, and it’s safe to assume that Idyll’s ability makes it aware of it.

This argument is terribly metaphysical, but it is a theme that Red X-Men scribe Al Ewing returned time and time again to his work at Marvel. Ewing addresses his thesis on the nature of time travel in the Marvel Omniverse as the author of Loki: Agent of Asgard and last year’s Defenders miniseries, but his most direct presentation on the subject occurs elsewhere. In Ultimate #5 by Al Ewing, Kenneth Rocafort, Dan Brown, the VC’s Joe Sabino, and Wil Moss, Galactus reveals the nature of spacetime to the team. Rather than a static object that can be shattered by the actions of precognitives or time travelers, Galactus explains that “[history] changes. It slips. Just like the future… Changes can be made. New branches and side streams – alternate stories. Or the main stream ripples further alter the past, altering the present“Time isn’t a fixed thing, it’s fluid, and in a way, that’s also a meta explanation for Marvel’s slippery timescale.

But how can time be fluid if there is also the “true future”? Cosmic figures like Galactus see time as a fluid that changes over time. Likewise, Destiny sees and impacts everything that can happen from its present moment. In this vast stream of time, Idyll sees the exact path taken by the single droplet that is the timeline of the 616 Universe. Just as a droplet’s trajectory is offset by an object launched from below or uphill, Idyll can see the timeline path. as modified and revised by the efforts of others. Simultaneously, there is a “true future” as time as a whole is mutable. The “true future” is the exact order of future events, including reality warps and time travel idiosyncrasies that alter the direction of a timeline. Idyll’s view supposedly contains all of this knowledge and more. It’s an immense power and befits the title of an Omega-level mutant, and it seems necessary from a story perspective that such an extensive level of view prevents Idyll from acting against what she sees.

Related: Loki’s Time Travel Link Has Been Redefined In Marvel Comics

While it might be brain-melting to dwell on it too long, the nature of time travel and time itself in the Marvel Omniverse cosmology has been explained in an expansive new way because of a mysterious mutant. Galactus teaches that time is a fluid entity and that past, present and future events are constantly undulating and distorting. And yet, Destiny’s perspective proves that the actions of individual beings are at the center of these ripples, guiding the timeline through a variety of possibilities. Although Idyll herself is unable to alter the flow of the timeline, she sees the flow in its entirety, even if the only “true future” comes to a point that sends a traveler back to hijack the entire timeline. She sees the full course of the ripples of time. The existence of Idyll adds new layers to wonderthe cosmic lore of and the reveal of his mutant gift changes how fans will understand time travel to advance.

More: Marvel’s New Avengers Team Also Travels Through Time

Red X-Men #5 is available now from Marvel Comics.

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