Tom Hiddleston is back as the trickster Loki from Asgardian mythology….or is he? Let us recap a bit….the last we saw of Loki, was that he had died in the Infinity war prologue. Strangled by the power seeker Thanos, Loki attempted to save his asgardian brethren (and the universe) by taking a stab at the mad titan (literally). He fails in his attempt and dies in front of his brother. However, this was not the first time that Loki died in the MCU and later resurfaced to battle the Marvel heroes. This is the reason why alot of fans suspected he may once again return. Unfortunately for those crazed fans – the Loki depicted in the series is NOT the beloved trickster that had redeemed himself in the end. Instead, the Loki we meet in the series is in fact another Loki from another reality that was created from Avengers Endgame.
***ATTENTION: SEASON ONE SPOILERS BELOW***
Confused? Don’t be. To explain: remember in Avengers Endgame when Tony Stark and Ant-man failed to retrieve the Tesseract (aka space stone) because the Hulk smashed through the staircase knocking over Tony Stark? The Tesseract was knocked over to the shackled Loki who picked it up and used it to escape.
This escaped Trickster (that failed in his attempt to conquer New York City) is our protaganist in the Disney TV series. He is the original Loki we met prior to his self-reflection and acts of redemption. Devoid of all events that happened to the character in the last ten years of the MCU, Loki is NOT yet the anti-hero we are familiar with. In essence, let’s think of this Loki character as Loki 2.0 – a completely different Asgardian God of Mischief that we have come to love.
What happens next after this other Loki escapes from New York is the basis of the series. Hence, enter the worlds of the multiverse! Multiple realities existing at the same time in other universes wherein actions or events (dubbed “Nexus events”) have changed the world differently from our own. The original ancient one best explained it in Avengers Endgame – events that occur create an alternate timeline from the actual timeline which impacts future events. This is why Bruce Banner aka Hulk promised to return the stones back to their proper time and place after the Avengers used it to save those lost in the Avengers “Infinity War.” To prevent the creation of alternate timelines (which was NOT successful in my opinion – but that is a discussion for another time.)
However, according to the Loki TV show, in these other realities variants of yourself live normal lives until that timeline is eradicated or “pruned” as the show calls it. Apparently, there is a time force that exists which governs all the realities. This organization known as the Time Variance Authority (TVA for short), polices the known multiverse and removes those timelines that diverge from the actual “sacred” timeline. Created by the all powerful Time keepers, the TVA monitors any threats to the timeline and prunes these variants like a gardener cutting off limbs from a tree. Each Nexus event variant is apprehended, their timeline eradicated, and they stand trial at the TVA.
Hence Loki 2.0 created a nexus event when he stole the tesseract and fled. This created a new branch on the timeline wherein the TVA promptly appeared and arrested him. This is where our Loki 2.0 begins his transformation to the Anti-hero we know and respect. Learning of the life his predecessor had and his fate on the actual timeline had a profound effect on him. This helped him understand that his quest of a “glorious purpose” has been flawed and that there may be other possibilities in the universe for him. Recruited by the TVA agent Morbius (Owen Wilson) to apprehend a more dangerous variant of himself, Loki 2.0 originally planned to take over the Time Variance Authority. However, his ambitions changed when he met Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino), the variant he had been recruited to stop.
Sylvie was the Loki of her timeline, however unlike our adopted Odinson, she was born a daughter of Asgard. This of course was NOT how history was meant to be on the actual timeline, so as a result – she was arrested as a child and her timeline pruned. Sylvie however escaped the TVA during her trial and continued to evade them as she grew up. She learned all she could of the TVA, and developed a plan to destroy the TVA and the timekeepers.
Loki 2.0 interrupts her quest and disrupts her plans. Battling outside of the Timekeepers Sanctum, the two are teleported to Lamentis at the eve of the planet’s apocalypse. The two share an adventure together wherein they form a relationship that neither of them can admit. However, this is when Loki 2.0 discovers the secret of the TVA and the timekeepers and joins Sylvie on her quest to bring down the TVA. They are of course discovered and arrested by the TVA (saved from Lamentis’ destruction.) Agent Morbius attempts to question Loki 2.0 and Sylvie for further insight on the situation. He is prevented from interviewing Sylvie but unearths the truth of his reality. As a result, Agent Morbius is pruned by Judge Ramona (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and both Sylvie and Loki 2.0 are unable to escape. This actually works out for the two of them as they are brought in front of the Timekeepers for final judgement.
The two eventually escape and learn that the Time keepers were nothing more than puppets of a higher power! During this revelation, the TVA’s Judge Ramona prunes Loki 2.0 and is defeated by Sylvie. Ramona then reveals the secret that pruning does not cause immediate death or erasure from the timeline! Instead, pruning simply moves the variant and/or timeline to the end of time. A place known as the “Void” wherein it is consumed by a being known as Alioth!
Alioth is a trans-temporal entity that serves as the guardian of the void. This entity was created during the Multiversal war and consumes anything (variants, timelines, etc) that is sent to the Void. Loki 2.0 and Sylvie confront Alioth and defeat him, once again uncovering Alioth’s other function apart from purging variants or timelines. Alioth was also the gatekeeper to the Citadel at the end of time wherein the creator of the TVA (a being known as He who remains) lived.
The being known as “He who remains” (Jonathan Majors) is none other than Kang or rather one of his variants. In the comics, Kang was the next evolution of his character Pharoah Rama-Tut, and he is the prequel character to his later incarnation known as Immortus (all this is another discussion for a different blog). He who remains explained his origins, motivations and why the TVA was created. He pointed out to Sylvie and Loki 2.0 its role and the need for the TVA to exist. But despite all his good arguments, Sylvie went ahead and killed him. Loki 2.0 did try to stop her, but in the end he was NOT able to do so.
The death of He who remains, in my opinion had to happen, as the Marvel Universe needed to set the stage for the future of upcoming MCU shows. In fact, He who remains gave us a fair warning about what would happen if he died, and it is now clear that what he said was true. Moving forward in the MCU, the multiverse had to be unleashed so that the multitude of realities and possibilities within could be explored. I had several friends of mine ask me after Avengers Endgame, “how would the MCU be able to draw in viewers and keep its popularity?”
This is how, by starting a universe full of multiple possibilities – Done right, this storyline should be just as exciting and intriguing as what I’ve read in the comics. So here we are now at the start, The PREQUEL if you will, of the new Marvel Cinematic Universe. I would not be surprised if the end of the multiverse storyline would have all the MCU heroes participating in a multiversal war against variants of themselves….