The following story contains spoilers for the Marvel Cinematic Universe through Avengers: Endgame and leading up to Disney+’s Loki.
Most of the fan favorite, recurring heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe—Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man, Falcon, the list goes on—tend to share a common quality: they’re good guys. Which is why Loki, the God of Mischief played several times by Tom Hiddleston in the Thor and Avengers movies stands out—he’s not such a good guy. Loki begins his MCU journey as the primary villain in both Thor and The Avengers before eventually beginning his journey toward anti-hero territory. But there’s a minor wrinkle within that journey that might kind of get in the way: the fact that, uh, he’s dead.
Loki appeared to die no less than three times over the course of his six appearances in the MCU, starting with his falling into a wormhole in Thor, continuing with his faked death in Thor: The Dark World, and finally his actual death (so it would seem) at Thanos’ hands in the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War. But if he’s actually dead—and Thanos sure did squeeze the life out of him—then how the hell is there a Loki series on Disney+?
Well, that’s a damn good question.
So…Is Loki dead or alive?
LOL. OK. Jokes aside, this is a pretty easily answered question. But you’re going to have to put those classic ‘alternate dimension’ and ‘timeline manipulation’ hats back on to fully understand.
So, to be fully clear, Loki only ever actually died one time. When he dropped from the bifrost in Thor, he didn’t die, but rather went directly into a wormhole that eventually led him to a world called Sanctuary, where he met a guy you may have heard of: Thanos. Thanos is the one who then set Loki up with the scepter (with the mind stone intact), and sent him to conquer earth, which is what we saw play out in The Avengers. (We see Loki using the scepter for the first time in the Thor credits scene, where he’s using it to control Dr. Selvig.)
The next time that Loki “died” was in Thor: The Dark World, when he sacrificed himself alongside Thor during a fight against the Dark Elves in an attempt to kill Algrim. Loki “died” in Thor’s arms, with Thor promising to tell of his redemption. However, as the movie’s ending shows, Loki was not actually dead; the God of Mischief was simply doing God of Mischief things here; the end of The Dark World shows Loki impersonating Odin on the throne, and the beginning of Thor: Ragnarok finds Loki in Asgard putting on plays that re-enact his “sacrifice,” before Thor figures it out and exposes him.
However, Loki does actually die in the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War. While the end of Thor: Ragnarok finds Thor intending to bring Loki back to earth for the first time since The Avengers (after one last Loki deception that Thor was right on top of), their ship gets absolutely ransacked by Thanos and company. Loki had taken the Tesseract for himself at the end of Ragnarok, and Thanos knows this. Seeing the damage done, Loki reveals that he has the Tesseract, and pretends to swear allegiance to the big purple fella before a doomed attack on Thanos. Thanos freezes Loki in his place, and chokes him to death, as a horrified Thor watches on. Loki, after all of his scheming and mischief, died in an attempt to save Thor.
So… what will Loki be all about?
The Loki series was entirely set up by the ‘time heist’ sequence in Avengers: Endgame, which finds the ‘original six’ Avengers (Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow, and Hawkeye) along with a few others (Rocket Raccoon, War Machine, Nebula, Ant-Man) traveling back in time to recover the Infinity Stones in order to undo Thanos’ earth-changing snap.
One of the places the team travels back to is Stark’s tower in New York City, just after Loki’s failed attempt in The Avengers. The Endgame heroes want to recover the Tesseract from the The Avengers versions of themselves, but the plan goes awry; the Tesseract winds up in the hands of a post-capture Loki, who quickly uses it to teleport away into a cloud of smoke.
This is where Loki will pick up, as this Loki—who, then, has never experienced the events of Thor: The Dark World, Thor: Ragnarok, or Avengers: Infinity War—travels an alternate timeline, through time, and meets Owen Wilson. Maybe he returns to the main timeline, maybe not. After all, we’ve seen this route taken in the movies with Gamora; after she was sacrificed in Infinity War by Thanos in exchange for the Soul Stone, the Gamora from the past then met up with present Nebula and the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy. So we’ll have to see.
All things considered, though, however the MCU wants to handle it, it’s hard to imagine any fan of this franchise saying they don’t want more of Tom Hiddleston as Loki. We hereby accept with open arms.
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