|Time Variance Authority|
|First appearance||Thor #372 (October 1986)|
|Type of organization|
He Who Remains
The Time Variance Authority (TVA) is a fictional organization, a group of timeline monitors appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Chronicoms, based on the lower-ranked TVA Chronomonitors, are introduced in the fourth season finale of the ABC series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in 2017, recurring through to its series finale in 2020, while the TVA is featured in the 2021 Disney+ series Loki and the promotional The Simpsons short film The Good, the Bart, and the Loki, primarily embodied by Ravonna Renslayer (portrayed by Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Mobius M. Mobius (portrayed by Owen Wilson) and controlled by He Who Remains (portrayed by Jonathan Majors) through Miss Minutes (voiced by Tara Strong); a different TVA operating under an unidentified variation of Kang (also Majors) is also introduced in the first season finale. Members of the TVA also appear in the 2022 television special Werewolf by Night.
The Time Variance Authority (TVA) first appeared in Thor #372 (October 1986). Created by Walt Simonson and Sal Buscema, the TVA originally paid homage to long-time Marvel writer/editor and continuity expert Mark Gruenwald: the TVA staff were all visually designed as clones of Gruenwald (the classification system for alternate realities—the Marvel multiverse—was devised, in part, by Gruenwald).
Writer Roy Thomas and Sal's brother, artist John Buscema, had previously explored the concept of a Marvel multiverse with Marvel's evil Justice League correlates, called the Squadron Sinister, in Avengers #69 (1969). Thomas later introduced a heroic version of the Squadron Sinister named the Squadron Supreme, which first appeared in Avengers #85–86 (February–March 1971), and which was co-created with John Buscema.
In 1985–1986, Mark Gruenwald wrote a deconstructionist multiverse storyline featuring the Squadron Supreme in a self-titled twelve-issue limited series.
The concept of a timeline monitoring organization had previously been explored in a Captain Britain story arc originally published in the Marvel UK series The Daredevils #6–8 (1983). Written by Alan Moore and Alan Davis, Captain Britain is brought outside of time to the Supreme Omniversal Tribunal in Eden Place to testify before Lord Mandragon, Majestrix of the Dimensional Development Court, on behalf of the former majestrix, Opal Luna Saturnyne. Saturnyne is accused of failing to protect the multiverse from the creation of a deviant version of Earth-238.
Prior to Captain Britain's testimony, Mandragon declares that the Earth-238 universe must be "removed" from the multiverse before it destroys the continuums of the other universes. Saturnyn's legal counsel, a faceless being referred to as Lord Chancellor, objects, as the destruction of the Earth-238 universe will destroy material evidence of Saturnyne's innocence. Lord Mandragon overrules the defense's objection, citing Ominversal Writ clause 723-801-(d). He then proceeds to remove the dangerous deviant timestream using crystal technology.
It is revealed during the trial that the prime Earth that exists in Marvel Comics is Earth-616. (Because of this story, Alan Moore is usually credited with naming the mainstream Marvel Universe "Earth-616." However, Alan Davis has said that it was invented by Dave Thorpe, the previous writer of the UK-published Captain Britain stories.)
While Captain Britain's 1983 story arc does not mention the Time Variance Authority, the Dimensional Development Court contains elements that were plainly retconned by Walt Simonson and Sal Buscema and in subsequent incarnations (such as the TVA employees—chronomonitors—functioning and appearing in new universes in the same manner as the Captain Britain Corps). According to Mark Gruenwald's widow Catherine, Gruenwald's 1985 Squadron Supreme limited series was the work about which he was the proudest.
The TVA claims responsibility for monitoring the multiverse and can prune timelines if they are deemed too dangerous to exist. They also take action to prevent other beings from altering the past or future. They were first seen allowing Justice Peace, a lawman from the future, to travel to the 20th century in order to stop the killer Zaniac. Peace is able to succeed in his mission thanks to the assistance of Thor.
Despite their claims, the TVA's influence over time is not absolute. The scope of their influence is bordered by Alioth in the distant past as well as Kang the Conqueror, the Delubric Consortium, and Revelation at different eras throughout the timescape. There have also been numerous incidents of time travel or reality tampering where the TVA has failed to interfere.
At the End of Time, the last Director of the TVA known as He Who Remains creates the Time-Keepers, the last three beings who exist in the remaining timeline in the universe, who subsequently enslave Immortus. The process also ends up creating the Time Twisters, a trio of beings who imperiled all realities until stopped by Thor and other members of the Avengers.
The TVA are next seen utilizing the law-firm that She-Hulk works for on several instances and laws. Jurors for cases are plucked from time soon before they actually die, minimizing the effects on the time stream. This also establishes the tendencies for time-travelers to go through genetic scrambling, also to minimize the effect on the time-stream. Notably, the scrambling tends to cause similar appearances among various males who undergo the process. A defendant who is found guilty in one of these trials is executed with a weapon called the Retroactive Cannon, or Ret-Can (a reference to retroactive continuity, or "retcon", a practice used by storytellers to add previously unknown material to an event or remove previously established material from an event in a previous story), which erases the victim, deleting their existence from the universe by undoing their birth and entire history. She-Hulk herself was handed this harsh sentence, but it was overturned as a reward when she helped defeat the villain Clockwise.
Lower-ranked TVA employees, called Chronomonitors, are literally faceless. They are created artificially, using "quantum technology". The moment a new reality appears, a new faceless agent is created to monitor it, along with the necessary equipment (a personal computer-like device, plus a desk and a chair) to do so. Cloned managers of the Chronomonitors resemble Mark Gruenwald—and, later, Tom DeFalco—both longtime Marvel Comics writers. The most frequent recurring manager is Mobius M. Mobius, a Gruenwald clone.
On occasion, the TVA hires mercenaries for use in the more dangerous missions, such as Justice Peace and Death's Head. These mercenaries often lose limbs which the TVA replaces with clunky robotic parts. Another example of their seemingly anachronistic technology is a time machine shaped like an old locomotive. Professor Justin Alphonse Gamble, a pastiche of the Doctor, is a renegade from the TVA.
Further information: Time Variance Authority (Marvel Cinematic Universe)
The Time Variance Authority (TVA), modeled after the MCU version, appears in The Good, the Bart, and the Loki.