We’ve known for a while that Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is getting his own Marvel TV series on upcoming streaming service Disney+ – though the character’s surprise death in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War left a big question mark over how exactly the God of Mischief would return.
However, its sequel Avengers: Endgame sheds new light on just how Loki could make his big comeback, albeit with a twist that few fans would have seen coming.
Loki’s main Endgame appearance comes during the “Time Heist” portion of the movie, when Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man and Ant-Man travel back in time to the original 2012 Avengers movie in order to nab the Time, Mind and Space Infinity stones.
While our heroes manage to get their hands on the Time and Mind stones, an incident involving the 2012 Hulk and some stairs means that the Space stone (aka the cube-shaped Tesseract) ends up sliding to the feet of Loki, specifically the Loki that had just been defeated and captured at the end of the first Avengers movie.
Grabbing it, Loki uses the Tesseract’s abilities to teleport away, leaving the 2012-era Avengers nonplussed and the 2023 Avengers forced to travel even further back in time to get their hands on a version of it. Loki, meanwhile, is in the wind – and in the perfect free position to star in his TV series.
This certainly seems to be what the scene is alluding to given that the thread of Loki’s disappearance is never picked up in Endgame itself. But what does a loose Loki tell us about what to expect from the series as a whole?
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Well, possibly quite a bit. We shouldn’t forget that by the time he was killed in Infinity War, the later version of Loki had gone through a few more movies of character development, teaming up with his brother Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in both his solo movies the Dark World and Ragnarok and also ruling over Asgard for a number of years between them (albeit disguised as Anthony Hopkins’ Odin).
By the time of Infinity War, Loki was even willing to fight for his brother’s life at risk to his own – but the Loki we see in Endgame hasn’t been through any of that. Instead, he’s still more villainous and self-involved, which could make for an interesting contrast if he is somehow able to learn about his later growth.
That is, of course, if Loki interacts with the main Marvel Universe at all from hereon out. During the film it’s made clear that materially altering the past – say, by taking the Infinity stones – would branch things off into a parallel reality, and now that Loki’s nicked the Space stone we can assume his escape branches things off into an entirely different continuity to the films that came after.
Not everything would change but without Loki imprisoned, Thor: The Dark World doesn’t happen, possibly not Ragnarok either, and maybe not parts of Avengers: Infinity War, and that’s not to mention the huge ripple effect that this change could wreak on the rest of the MCU as well.
And even without these changes the newly-formed parallel universe means that the Loki streaming series can go in very surprising directions, with real stakes – just because the world was always saved in the main MCU doesn’t mean it will be here – and shocks that don’t have to tightly adhere to the rock-solid continuity of the main movie series.
That is, of course, if Loki stays put in his new universe at all. Arguably, having parallel universes of Marvel characters could end up being a bit confusing, unless Loki just travels around the other Nine Realms and avoids the parallel Earth entirely so that we don't notice. More likely, he finds his way back to the main MCU for whatever reason.
You see, Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo have explained that it is possible for characters to cross back from branched alternate worlds into the main one, revealing that Chris Evans’ Captain America achieves that very feat when he time travels towards the end of the film, lives a full life then returns to the present to hand his shield over to good friend Sam (Anthony Mackie).
“If Cap were to go back into the past and live there, he would create a branched reality,” Joe Russo told EW.
“The question then becomes, how is he back in this reality to give the shield away?”
“Interesting question, right?” he added.
“Maybe there’s a story there. There’s a lot of layers built into this movie and we spent three years thinking through it, so it’s fun to talk about it and hopefully fill in holes for people so they understand what we’re thinking.”
And frankly, if someone like Captain America can manage a return to the main Marvel universe, how much more likely is it for a Norse God with a history of using powerful magic to be able to achieve the same feat?
In short, Avengers: Endgame sets up the Loki series that takes us back to the popular, villainous God of Mischief that fans fell in love with in 2012’s Avengers , pops him in a parallel universe of limitless potential AND establishes that he may be able to tie back into the Marvel movies again at some point in the future.
To us, that sounds like a pretty potent combination. Mischief managed.