On Wednesday, June 9, a fan-favorite trickster will make his mind-bending return, this time to the small screen. In the wake of the success of both WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the Internet is alight with theories as to what new havoc Tom Hiddleston’s Loki will wreak in Marvel’s upcoming Disney+ show, Loki, which follows the god of mischief and agents of the Time Variance Authority as they scramble to mend his damage to the timeline. To be clear, this is not the Loki that (spoiler alert for the newer fans) gave his life to save his brother Thor in Avengers: Infinity War. This is his unredeemed 2012 alternate who recently escaped from New York with the Tesseract in Avengers: Endgame.
Naturally, Loki introduces a slew of new characters, including Judge Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and wise-cracking time agent Mobius M. Mobius (Owen Wilson). A time-travel storyline also gives the show spectacular range to revisit old characters and stories, create new branches in the timeline and generally be as unpredictable as its titular god. Trailers centered on just a handful of major scenes, so fans’ predictions will probably be a bit off-kilter relative to the rest of the six-episode series, but let’s run through a few anyway.
1. Loki takes place entirely in an alternate reality without any connection to future events (or media) in the main timeline. While not likely based on the existing content we have about the timeline and its branches (we’ve seen Steve Rogers live a lifetime in one branch and then return to the primary one, so clearly crossing over is possible), such a direction would give the writers room to do pretty much anything they wanted. In released Loki clips we get glimpses of what looks like Pompeii, New York City in smoldering ruins and a plane hijacking — clearly it will be like nothing we have seen before in Marvel, with the show’s only parallel being the Infinity Stones collection montage in Endgame, but I don’t think it need be entirely cut off from the events of future TV shows and movies. Most Marvel content builds on itself. After all, it seems to be popularly accepted that Loki will lead into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, much like WandaVision appears to do.
2. At the show’s conclusion, Loki will return to the original timeline at an earlier point, explaining his redemption arc in The Dark World, Ragnarok, and Infinity War. There are some problems with this theory, especially given Loki is more or less confirmed for two seasons (and fans would probably be vexed with yet another iteration of the resurrection-to-sacrificial-death pipeline that Loki seems destined to remain in). It would make sense that his experiences traveling the timeline explain his maturation as a character following his brief bout as a fully fledged villain in The Avengers. His thirst for power, however, is something that time travel may only amplify, so another redemption arc is not set in stone.
3. Loki will face alternate versions of himself. A mercurial character, Loki has ranged from genocidal despot, to comic relief, to tragic Shakespearean (anti)hero — the writers have approached him differently, but Hiddleston always portrays a depth and complexity of character that has kept fans hooked since the first Thor film ten years ago. Loki remains conflicted, alternating between wanting to be adored or feared, wanting family or a throne, and not seeming to know what he wants at all. To face alternate versions of himself would be the ultimate expression of this inner conflict, and perhaps set him more firmly on one path — to self-destruction, redemption or some combination of the two. Different iterations of this prediction include that the Loki who escaped from 2012 New York is actually the villainous counterpart to the Loki who somehow survived Infinity War, Lady Loki appearing in all of her glory and perhaps Loki even having to fight and kill an alternate version of himself.
And finally, a couple of my own pet theories:
4. The TVA will draw inspiration from The Umbrella Academy’s Temps Commission. While the TVA’s comic book origins do predate Gerard Way’s hit Netflix show The Umbrella Academy, following the extraordinary and dysfunctional lives of a superhero family, the visual and narrative similarities are intriguing. Both the TVA and the Commission seem to be over-reaching bureaucracies that micromanage the time continuum and have an aesthetic strangely rooted in the 1980s. In the latest Loki trailer, a cheerful but sinister cartoon character, Miss Minutes, welcomes Loki to the TVA, recalling the tonally similar cartoons that Diego Hargreeves loathed watching at his initiation to the Commission. If these two varieties of ‘time police’ end up sharing anything beyond a visual similarity, I predict that Loki will spend a good deal of his time fighting them as well as whatever ‘main villain’ arises. It is not in his nature to bow to any order but his own.
5. Heimdall will make a return. Idris Elba’s Asgardian watchman and general badass met a tragic end, much like Loki himself, in Infinity War. I have no evidence for his return, I’m just crossing my fingers (and for some version of Thor as well, but I think this is a likelier cameo: Thor and Loki are often each other’s literary foils).
6. The timeline will be left in chaos. Loki will wind up double or triple crossing the TVA for his own purposes, resulting in an even more catastrophic threat to time and leading into the second season of the show.
Despite all these theories, the only certain thing about Loki is that nothing is certain. Other than, perhaps, a fair bit of comedy, inevitable backstabbing and spectacular plot twists. Loki’s exploits have been given their largest stage yet — all of time and space — and I happily expect a wild spectacle.
Charlotte Mandy is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.