Watch a trailer for Loki
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In the early years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, critics often noted how many of the films seemed to have a villain problem. But where other baddies in the franchise have been forgettable one and done’s, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki quickly became a fan-favourite outlier.
Across six MCU movies he’s gone from villain to frenemy to ally, quite literally at times refusing to die, and we have been all the more entertained for it.
With the God of Mischief all set to take centre stage in his own Disney+ series starting this week, now’s a good time to take a look back at his crazy journey so far.
Hiddleston famously auditioned to play the God of Thunder in Kenneth Branagh’s 2011 franchise-starter, but Loki was clearly the role he was born for. Thor’s jealous brother is up to no good from the start here, orchestrating the Frost Giants’ break-in to Asgard’s vault to stop Thor being crowned King. Thereafter, a misguided trip to the Frost Giants’ home of Jotunheim sees Thor banished to Earth, and leads to Loki discovering that he is actually a Frost Giant whom Odin rescued as a baby and adopted in the hopes that he would one day bring peace between the two realms.
Loki doesn’t quite see it that way, and when he briefly becomes ruler of Asgard while Odin is in his deep sleep he schemes to have Thor murdered on Earth and win Odin’s favour by killing the Frost Giants’ leader at the All-Father’s bedside. Neither plan gets the desired results, and it all leads to an emotional scene on the Bifrost Bridge in the closing minutes, with Loki opting to fall into a wormhole rather than face the consequences of his actions.
Marvel’s Avengers (2012)
We wouldn’t have to wait long to find out what happened to Loki. As it turns out, Thanos was at the other end of that wormhole, and Loki struck a bargain with the Mad Titan: in exchange for the powerful Scepter (which contains the Mind Stone) and command over the Chitauri army with which he could invade Earth, Loki would obtain the Tesseract (which houses the Space Stone) for the purple-skinned baddie.
Unfortunately for the mischievous Asgardian, the Avengers assembled just in time to take Loki down – an instantly iconic tussle with the Hulk leaves Loki a little worse for wear – and he is sent back to Asgard to face judgement for his crimes.
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
While Thor: The Dark World is widely thought of as the weakest of the three Thor movies (and even the MCU as a whole), it’s a pretty good Loki movie. Now back on Asgard, Loki is sentenced to life in the dungeons. But when Malekith and the Dark Elves invade, Loki’s actions inadvertently lead to the death of his mother Frigga, leaving him bereft. It’s the only time we see him being even slightly remorseful.
Seeking revenge, Thor enlists Loki to help him escape Asgard (against Odin’s wishes) and bring the fight to Malekith and co. In the ensuing battle, Loki sacrifices himself to save Thor… or so we think. In the final scene it’s revealed that he faked his death, ousted Odin, and has now disguised himself as the All-Father, who just gave his blessing for Thor to return to Earth and stay there for as long as he wishes. That leaves Loki free to rule Asgard with nobody the wiser.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Understandably, Thor is not impressed with Loki when he returns to Asgard in Thor: Ragnarok and quickly sees through his disguise. The brother’s team up to find Odin, but before things can get back to normal the All-Father dies and leaves his two sons to face a new threat: Hela, their older sister and Goddess of Death. A botched escape via Bifrost leaves Thor and Loki stranded in Sakaar while Hela makes quick work of bringing Asgard under her heel.
After being outsmarted by Thor for once, Loki reluctantly teams up with his brother, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Taika Waititi) and Hulk to make one last stand against Hela. It’s a losing battle though, and at Thor’s behest Loki summons fire demon Surtur (while also snatching the Tesseract from Asgard’s vault) to bring about Ragnarok, destroying not only Hela but Asgard along with her while the surviving Asgardians flee. For a moment, it looks like Thor and Loki are finally on good terms and that good times are on the horizon…
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
...until Thanos shows up. He’s still after the Tesseract that Loki promised him he’d deliver in Marvel’s Avengers. After some Hulk-assisted trickery ends up with the Gamma-powered hero laid out, Loki eventually hands it over. Then, in a moment that showcases his growth, he proposes a partnership with the Mad Titan that is really a ploy so that he can get close enough to deliver a killing blow.
Unfortunately, Thanos is wise to Loki’s last act of deception, and promptly snaps his neck as a helpless Thor watches on.
“No resurrections this time”, is the line that follows. Except…
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
When the Avengers go back in time to undo the damage wrought by Thanos at the end of Infinity War, they return to 2012 and the aftermath of the Battle of New York. Their plan to nab the Tesseract while it’s in transit with a captured Loki goes awry when 2012 Hulk smacks 2019 Tony Stark with a door, causing the Tesseract to land right at Loki’s feet.
Sensing an opportunity, he immediately grabs it and jumps through a wormhole, setting the stage for his Disney+ series. Exactly where and/or when he’s gone will presumably be one of the first questions answered when the first episode debuts.
Stepping out from his brother's shadow, Loki returns to front his own series streaming exclusively on Disney+. Picking up his story after the events of Avengers: Endgame, trailers for the series show Loki being enlisted by a mysterious organisation that protects 'the proper flow of time'.
He's broken reality by picking up the Tesseract in Endgame, and they need his help to fix it. Hiddleston is joined in the cast by Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sophia Di Martino, Wunmi Mosaku and Richard E. Grant, with new episodes launching every Wednesday.
Loki premieres on Disney+ on 9 June.