The future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe remains somewhat uncertain following the events of Avengers: Endgame, but the context for at least one confirmed upcoming project became a little clearer thanks to the Infinity War sequel.
Although Endgame left us with plenty of questions about the future of the MCU, it gave us a pretty good idea how the Loki series — coming to Disney Plus — will fit into the MCU.
(Note: We’ll be discussing some key events and concepts revealed in Avengers: Endgame from this point forward, so consider this a spoiler warning if you haven’t seen the movie yet.)
The official synopsis for the Loki series indicates that it will follow the Asgardian trickster as he influences events throughout human history, with MCU veteran Tom Hiddleston reprising his role as the title character. Loki has always had a knack for popping up when and where you least expect him, but the events of Avengers: Infinity War appeared to end his story in the MCU, giving him a redemptive arc across Thor: Ragnarok and Infinity War that let him go out on a positive note.
It’s no secret that death can be a fairly temporary condition in comics and the movies based on them, but Infinity War directors Anthony and Joe Russo confirmed in November that Loki was indeed dead. At that point, it seemed, Thanos’ smirking comment that there will be “no resurrections this time” for Loki would prove true. As Endgame (and Nebula) taught us, Thanos is many things, but a liar isn’t one of them.
That’s all well and good (maybe not for Loki), but when the MCU’s heroes — those who survived Thanos’ snap heard ’round the universe, that is — started messing with their own timelines in Endgame in an order to recover the Infinity Stones, all bets were off and nothing was final anymore.
In the second act of Endgame, Iron Man, Ant-Man, Captain America, and Bruce Banner go back in time to the events of The Avengers, realizing that three Infinity Stones were in Manhattan all at the same time: The Space Stone was in The Tesseract that Loki uses to teleport and open portals for the Chitauri alien invasion fleet, the Mind Stone was in Loki’s scepter, and the Time Stone was in the Eye of Agamotto (i.e. that cool necklace thingy that Dr. Strange eventually masters).
As anyone who’s seen Endgame knows (and if you’ve read this far, we hope you’ve seen it), while attempting to grab the stones, the heroes let Loki regain the Tesseract and teleport himself away before he can be taken back to Asgard (to be seen next in Thor: The Dark World). That’s the last we see of Loki in Endgame, whose timeline would now appear to have splintered off, making new adventures possible.
And that, it seems, is where we’ll likely find the Loki series picking up, with Hiddleston’s scheming Asgardian — pre-redemption Loki, that is — once again popping up where no one expects him.
Given that the Tesseract allows Loki to teleport himself anywhere he feels the urge to go, and the events of Endgame have made time travel a very real possibility in the MCU, is it any wonder that Loki finds a way to get his hands on something that lets him take his diabolical machinations to another, time-hopping level? At least two methods of affecting time currently exist in the MCU: The Time Stone and traveling through the Quantum Realm. It’s reasonable to expect that Loki, in all his mad brilliance, might discover a few more as he jumps around reality as we know it.
What remains to be seen, however, is whether Loki’s actions change the current timeline of the MCU in one way or another, or if the series puts him back where he was supposed to go after The Avengers — an Asgardian prison — when the show reaches its conclusion.
It really is a clever way to set up the Loki series, letting a seemingly minor moment in Endgame set events in motion for an entirely new story arc, and it’s the sort of thing Marvel has done well from the start. Being able to manage the various character arcs and stories at play in the MCU is one thing, but finding ways to subvert them and shift them in a new direction is the sort of next-level cleverness that has made the MCU one of the greatest franchises of all time.
And really, who better to embody the spirit of next-level cleverness than Loki?
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