Taylor Swift’s new film The Eras Tour opened to widespread praise and a huge box office that all but guarantees a sequel. But the film’s labyrinthine plotting and non-linear narrative are likely to have left many viewers confused. We’ll explain exactly what happened in the film’s ending, as well as what it means for the all-but-guaranteed Phase 2 of the Taylor Swift Cinematic Universe.
Spoilers follow for those who haven’t seen the film.
The film’s narrative jumps back and forth in time to different parts of Taylor’s life, covering nine different “eras”, as the title implies. While this may leave viewers a bit disoriented, the ending grounds things by bringing the story into the present day, ending with Taylor’s most recent era: Midnights. So viewers can orient themselves with the knowledge that the ending takes place in the present day, and the rest of the film was told in flashback.
With this in mind, we can look at the film’s hints about what’s to come in Phase 2 of the TSCU.
For one, there’s a timeline that’s notably missing: Taylor’s first era. The audience isn’t told Taylor Swift’s origin story or how she got her powers in the first place, so a prequel film set in her Debut era is likely in Phase 2.
Taylor also introduces the possibility of a multiverse during the Reputation timeline. One line of dialogue states that the old Taylor is “dead”, meaning there’s a good chance the multiple Taylors we see could actually be alternate universe versions. Taylor is no stranger to the concept of a multiverse. The re-records of her previously released albums, each one dubbed “Taylor’s Version”, are themselves alternate universe versions of each record, so a multiverse would be a natural next step for the TSCU.
But there is another, darker explanation for this multiverse tease as well. At one point the film makes a clear reference to the film The Prestige, when Taylor jumps below the stage and is shown swimming through a tank of water. In The Prestige, Hugh Jackman’s magician character drops himself below the stage into a tank of water each night, killing himself as a machine makes a new clone of him. Putting this together with the line about the old Taylor being “dead”, it may be likely that each Taylor we see is literally a new version of her and not an alternate universe version. There’s clearly more going on than meets the eye, and Phase 2 will likely shed more light on this.
Taylor also has a rich rogues gallery of supervillains that will likely feature in Phase 2: Kanye West, Karlie Kloss, and the person she has the most bad blood with, the one holding her original songs hostage: Scooter Braun. It will be exciting to see who plays these iconic characters, and there have already been casting shakeups behind the scenes, with Travis Kelce taking up the mantle of Taylor Swift’s boyfriend after Joe Alwyn stepped down. While it’s unclear why Alwyn left the role, Kelce is looking to be a promising casting choice.
Fans know all too well that Taylor is a mastermind and does not do things accidentally. You can’t just see an obvious tease and shake it off. I knew the film would be trouble when I walked in, that everything would mean something. And while Phase 2 may be a blank space right now, in just a few cruel summers we will have our answers. 1989.