ou’ve seen Scarlet Witch mourn the (second) death of her lover Vision in WandaVision, you’ve cheered as Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson battled mask-wearing foes in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and you’re wondering what’s next in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Enter: Loki. The MCU's mischievous anti-hero is back from the dead (kind of) to cause chaos with his silky-voiced malice and luscious black locks.
So, how is he not dead already? Why is he visiting Pompeii? And what’s Owen Wilson doing in a superhero show? Here’s everything you need to know about the latest Marvel series heading to Disney+.
Who is Loki?
Beneath the horned helmet and wig is Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, aka the God of Mischief, who has charmed and weasled his way across the cinematic universe for over a decade. As the adopted son of Odin, King of Asgard, he got pretty vexed when his brother Thor was named the heir apparent to their father’s throne.
Since then he’s been wreaking havoc: faking his death to take the throne (disguised as his father), opening up an alien portal to conquer the earth and scheming to wipe out the human race. Standard stuff really.
In Avengers: Infinity War, Loki died at the hands of Thanos (the big purple giant), who was cranky that he never gave him the Space Stone – one of the Infinity Stones, and which Loki had promised to give to Thanos so he could annihilate half of the universe.
Wait, Loki’s dead?
Absolutely. Loki might be the cinematic king of resurrections but this time he is actually dead. If you don’t believe me listen to the purple tyrant: “No resurrection this time,” Thanos mumbled after he choked Loki to death and then snapped his neck in front of Thor. Even for a god, there’s no coming back from that.
How does he have a new TV series then?
This is where it gets complicated (if it wasn’t already). The Loki in the new television series is not the same guy that got slaughtered by Thanos.
In Avengers: Endgame, the film after Loki’s death, the Avengers who survived Thanos’ snap (where half of all life in the universe was obliterated) travelled back in time to specific moments in past films to retrieve the Infinity Stones. One of the moments that the group return to is in 2012 during The Avengers, the first film with the whole team.
Back then Loki was an evil tyrant attempting to rule the human race as king. He also had possession of the Tesseract, a cube-shaped container for the Space Stone, which the time-travelling Avengers are after.
But following a botched attempt to capture the Tesseract (blame a clumsy Hulk), it ends up back in Loki’s hands. Ever the opportunist, he steals it and vanishes, as he does.
Forget coronavirus variants, this creates the Loki variant, and a new timeline where he’s alive and firmly on the Time Variance Authority’s most wanted list (if they have those in space).
Um, what’s the Time Variance Authority?
In short, the crux of the new series. The Time Variance Authority (TVA) is a bureaucratic organisation dedicated to protecting the “proper flow of time”. And the Loki variant does not conform to their protocols at all.
The new show will see the TVA take custody of Loki — not known for his adherence to bureaucracy — and draw him into their attempt to solve a serious crime that is giving them a major headache, and help fix the timeline alongside Owen Wilson’s TVA agent Mobius, in exchange for letting the god survive. According to the trailer, the trickster has created about 13 branch timelines so he has plenty to be getting on with.
But as we know, order — and following orders — are not Loki’s forte.
So is Loki a good or a bad guy now?
Loki’s morality is questionable at the best of times. One moment he’s plotting to take over the human race, the next he’s sacrificing himself for the Avengers. Just before he was slaughtered by Thanos, he tried to save his brother and the entire universe by slaying the supervillain with a dagger.
But here’s the problem: The Loki variant has not had the same emotional journey or character development as the sacrificial Loki. This old Loki is still hell-bent on wiping out humanity after causing carnage in Manhattan. That means in this new series, Loki is presumably back to his villainous, brother-loathing origins. But with a luxurious six hours to tell his story, it’s an opportunity for the Asgardian egotist’s character development that we haven’t seen before.
What’s he doing in Pompeii?
In his quest to fix the flow of time, Loki will travel to various periods. The trailer has already shown him messing around in the past, walking through the streets of ancient Pompeii during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, and it also implied that he impersonates criminal D.B. Cooper, who stole $200,000 back in 1971 before vanishing after jumping from an aircraft. The historical events he can stick his oar into are pretty endless. Think of it like Forrest Gump, but with added sass and longer hair.
Where does this fit in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
As we know by now, everything in the Marvel realm is linked. Loki will fit nicely into Phase Four of the MCU by bringing the idea of a multiverse (a place in which multiple and infinite universes exist) back to centre stage.
WandaVision signalled the arrival of the multiverse but Loki looks set to reiterate its bearing on future Marvel films, potentially linking it to the Doctor Strange sequel, the next Spider-Man movie, and Thor: Love and Thunder
Who else is in the series?
Joining Hiddleston will be Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Misbehaviour) as Ravonna Renslayer, a judge in the TVA whose feathers are ruffled by Loki’s lack of respect, and Wunmi Mosaku (His House, Lovecraft Country) plays Hunter-B15, “a badass” high-ranking hunter, according to the actress, devoted to the TVA and determined to delete the Loki variant for taking down some of its troops.
Sophia Di Martino and Sasha Lane have also been cast though their characters are yet to be announced, and with Loki travelling through time, there have been rumours that Richard E. Grant (also confirmed) will play an older version of the character, which is obviously perfect.
Where can I watch Loki and when is the release date?
Loki hits Disney+ exclusively on June 9 and will run for six episodes. Subsequent episodes will land each Wednesday.
What time is Loki released in the UK?
Loki’s premiere will be available to stream on Disney Plus from 12:00am (midnight) Pacific/3:00am Eastern in the US so that’s 8am BST in the UK.