Loki is finally coming out next week, and with a show so deeply rooted in the MCU lore, there’s a bit of homework to do if you want to understand everything. Whether you just want a quick recap of everything you need to know, or you want to rewatch all the relevant films yourself, these are the MCU movies that tie into Loki.
Loki stars Tom Hiddleston as the titular God of Mischief, along with a slew of new characters to the MCU. Unlike WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki doesn’t seem to be relying on previously established characters and settings as much—but since it’s Marvel, there’s sure to be a healthy amount of callbacks. The show primarily focuses on Loki completing missions throughout time and space under the direction of the Time Variance Authority (or TVA). It seems like we’ll be exploring all sorts of new, crazy locals in this show, but first, let’s take a look back at what we’ve already seen over the past decade.
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Our first stop on this trail is 2011’s Thor, which lays out the origin of the trickster god. Thor largely centers around, well, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) reclaiming his right to rule Asgard after Odin (Anthony Hopkins) deems him unworthy at the beginning of the movie. But Loki also plays an important role here as the film’s primary antagonist.
Thor leads a small team of Asgardian heroes and Loki is a part of it. After a mission at the beginning of the movie that goes wrong, Thor is banished to Earth despite Loki’s pleas for Odin to let him stay. Because Loki is actually Thor’s brother—or, at least that’s what been told to him.
Partway through the movie, Loki learns the’s not Odin’s child—he’s actually a Frost Giant child Odin found and raised as his own son. After telling Loki this, Odin must go into the coma-like “Odin Sleep” to recharge his powers. But this isn’t what turns Loki evil really, at the beginning of the movie, he had already enacted a plan to let Frost Giants into Asgard to ruin Thor’s inauguration as King. It’s unknown to everyone that’s Loki’s responsible for this, so Odin got mad at Thor for dragging Asgard back into war and banished him.
With his rage building and Thor and Odin both out of the game, Loki makes a deal with the Frost Giants that, if he lets them into Asgard to reclaim an ancient artifact, they’ll kill Odin. Meanwhile, Loki sends down the dangerous weapon “The Destroyer” to Earth to deal with Thor.
This plan fails, as Thor defeats The Destroyer in New Mexico. But the Frost Giants successfully make it to Odin’s throne room, and right as they’re about to kill the King, Loki walks in and kills them—making himself seem like a hero. His plan almost worked perfectly, but Thor comes back to Asgard, is informed of Loki’s misdeeds by Heimdall (a character that can see everything happening in the world, portrayed by Idris Elba), and has one final battle with Loki to close out the movie. This fight leads to Loki being cast out into space, while Thor is rescued by Odin. Loki seemingly dies, but you probably already know that’s not real because we have five more movies to talk about.
Loki returns as the primary antagonist in Avengers, after running into a mysterious warlord out in space. This warlord, named Thanos (Josh Brolin), makes a deal with Loki: if he can collect the Tesseract, an ancient Earth artifact of immense power, he will give Loki command over the powerful Chitauri army so he can take over Earth. Loki agrees and appears on Earth while S.H.I.E.L.D. (an international peace-keeping organization in the MCU) is running experiments on the Tesseract.
Loki steals the artifact with relative ease despite S.H.I.E.L.D. trying to stop him, and even takes control over multiple agents (including the bow-wielding hero Hawkeye) with his mind-controlling staff. This event is what sparks Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), director of S.H.I.E.L.D. to form the Avengers—a team of Earth’s mightiest heroes including Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor, Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).
As a distraction for Loki’s team to steal some needed resources, Loki terrorizes civilians in Germany before Captain America, Iron Man, and Black Widow capture him. On the flight back, Thor takes Loki from the group and says he needs to bring him back to Asgard, but is ultimately stopped and reasoned with by Iron Man and Captain America. Loki is brought to the floating headquarters of S.H.I.E.L.D.: the Helicarrier.
But this was all a part of Loki’s plan to deal a strike against the Avengers; his team, alongside the mind-controlled Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), attack the Helicarrier causing an explosion that almost knocks it out of the air. Chaos ensues as Captain America and Iron Man struggle to get the ship working again, while Loki escapes with ease to New York.
Using the Tesseract and a machine built by the mind-controlled scientists, Loki opens a portal to Earth the Chitauri use the descend onto New York. The resulting battle sees the Avengers saving civilians from the hordes of Chitauri while Loki is mostly out of the action. Eventually, Hulk confronts Loki and beats him into submission, allowing the rest of the Avengers to close the space portal and defeat the Chitauri.
At the end of the film, Loki is captured by the Avengers once again and taken back to Asgard by Thor as a prisoner. But, as to be expected, this is hardly the end of Loki in the MCU—he still has a lot more stuff to experience.
Thor: The Dark World mainly focuses on Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) and his legion of Dark Elves trying to weaponize “The Aether”—a powerful force of destruction. But while Loki loses his role as the primary antagonist he’s still an important character in the film.
After the events of Avengers, Loki is sentenced to life in prison by Odin in Asgard. Meanwhile, Thor is checking up on his love interest from Thor, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who, while investigating some strange readings in London, got the Aether trapped inside her. Asgardian scientists and Odin try to find a way to remove the Aether from her while being protected by Frigga (Rene Russo), Thor and Loki’s mother. Frigga has also been secretly meeting with Loki in prison to make peace with him but is ultimately rejected by her son.
Malekith then attacks Asgard to claim the Aether, resulting in a massive battle between the Asgardians and the Dark Elves. Frigga battles Malekith nearly beating him, but eventually loses the fight and is dealt a fatal blow. Thor manages to chase away the Dark Elves after this, and a funeral is held for Frigga in Asgard. After that, Loki is enraged at Malekith and is freed from prison to aid Thor and his team in stopping the Dark Elves.
The upcoming encounter doesn’t go great for the heroes, but it actually works out pretty well for Loki. Thor, Jane Foster, and Loki all confront Malekith in the wastelands of Svartalfheim. Loki fake-betrays Thor pretending to give Jane to Malekith immediately, but this is revealed to be a ruse and a short battle follows. Malekith claims the Aether from Jane Foster but not before one of his soldiers kills Loki. The Dark Elves leave with the Aether in hand towards Earth, while Loki slowly dies in Thor’s arms apologizing for his past actions.
Malekith attempts to destroy the entire universe using the Aether on Earth but is defeated by Thor. After this final battle, Thor meets up with Odin and says how he wishes for Odin to remain as King since Thor feels unfit to rule. Odin appears to agree with this, but after Thor leaves it’s revealed Odin is actually Loki in disguise. With Thor hanging out off-world throughout the next four years of the MCU, Loki is left to ruling Asgard unopposed.
It’s time for Loki’s rule to come under some opposition. After collecting the crown of Surtur (an artifact that can summon a big fire monster), Thor returns to Asgard to find Heimdall has been declared an enemy of the throne, and that Odin has taken on quite the “Pro-Loki” viewpoint. Asgardian warriors are dressed like Loki, there are multiple statues of him, and there’s even a play in the trickster god’s honor.
Thor sees through the rouse pretty easily and gets Loki to reveal the truth in front of all of Asgard. The two then return to Earth and, after a quick run-in with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), find Odin in Norway. Odin warns he’s about to die and that Thor and Loki’s sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), is going to be released from her prison once Odin passes. And that’s exactly what happens: Odin fades away into energy, Thor gets very upset with Loki for trapping their father on Earth, and Hela steps out from a portal behind them.
Hela then proceeds to wipe the floor with both Thor and Loki before the brothers manage to teleport back to Asgard. But on the way, Hela follows and knocks them out of the teleportation tunnel only for her to arrive on Asgard instead. She takes it over extremely easily wiping out most of Asgard’s troops and forcing many of the civilians to flee the main city.
But now we need to turn our attention to the junk world of Sakaar. Loki lands here after the Hela encounter and befriends the planet’s ruler, The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), gaining a seat at his side. Thor lands here weeks later only to be forced into gladiatorial combat by the Grandmaster while Loki watches. He ends up fighting Hulk who crash-landed here as well after the events of 2014’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Loki’s content with staying on Sakaar but Thor is desperate to escape. After the battle, he meets up with Hulk again devising a plan to escape back to Asgard to defeat Hela. Thor and Hulk leave the Grandmaster’s chambers together, allowed by former Asgardian Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), who’s been working for the Grandmaster on Sakaar for years.
The Grandmaster then sends out Loki and Valkryie to find the two Avengers in Sakaar. But Loki knows Valkyrie already didn’t stop them when she had the chance, which leads to a short fight between the two. Eventually, Loki manages to access Valkyrie’s memories and sees her history with Hela before being promptly being knocked out.
In the meantime, Hela has awakened the dead armies of Asgard to fight at her side. Heimdall is currently leading a small force against her trying to evacuate Asgard’s civilians to the portal on Asgard to escape. But with Hela constantly searching for them and blocking the portal with her armies, they desperately need Thor’s help to defeat her. Heimdall does speak with Thor briefly through magic, only heightening Thor’s motivation to return to Asgard.
Back on Sakaar, Valkryie agrees to help him reclaim Asgard from Hela, and even offers a captured Loki as a peace tribute. This new team works together to escape Sakaar, but not before one final attempt from Loki to betray them all. It backfires though and Loki is left behind on Sakaar while Thor, Hulk, and Valkyrie escape to Asgard.
However, Loki still gets off-world with the help of a group of rebels who are also trying to leave. Loki quickly becomes their leader and, using a giant ship stolen from the Grandmaster, heads straight for Asgard to stop Hela. The fight had already kicked off at this point, so it allows Loki to come in at the most dire hour to play the hero and save the remaining civilians of Asgard.
The final battle for Asgard now takes place, Heimdall and the Asgardians are desperately trying to escape while Valkryie, Hulk, and Loki fight off Hela’s army. Thor takes the fight to Hela herself though but doesn’t do a great job alone. This requires Valkryie to help him out while Loki goes back into the main city to pull off one final stunt.
Loki places the crown of Surtur from the beginning of the movie into the legendary Eternal Flame of Asgard. This summons an ultra-powerful monster to come and destroy Asgard and Hela along with it. This leaves all of Asgard stranded on this giant ship, and they decide they’ll make their way to Earth to live out a new life.
And most importantly, this movie really ended off Loki’s villain arc. While he started in the MCU as a straight-up antagonist, he’s now mostly a hero alongside Thor (albeit, with a selfish side). But unfortunately, that wouldn’t last for long, as while escaping Asgard Loki decided to steal the Tesseract from the archives.
Loki dies in the first five minutes of Avengers: Infinity War—he doesn’t even make it to the opening credits. Thanos boards the Agard ship searching for the Tesseract and winds up killing Loki to get it. Loki does try to fight him, alongside Thor and Hulk, but they’re no match for Thanos (not even Hulk!), and Loki takes a fatal blow. Yeah, there’s not much to speak on Loki’s behalf here, the rest of the film isn’t particularly relevant to his character. However, in the MCU death is rarely the end for anyone, so it’s not a surprise that we get to see Loki return in the next film.
While the Avengers try to undo Thanos’ actions from Infinity War, Loki manages to make a reappearance—and it’s arguably the most important one to the new show. In Endgame, the Avengers travel through time to defeat Thanos, but in the process revisit the events of the original Avengers. After the battle of New York, Loki is still captured, but with the events of Endgame underway, things don’t go according to plan.
The Tesseract falls back into Loki’s hands and he uses it to warp away. This creates an alternative timeline version of Loki that has not and will not experience the events of Thor: The Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok. So this new version of Loki is still by all accounts a villain, still wanting to conquer the Earth and defeat his brother—which leads directly into the new show.
After’s Loki’s death in Infinity War, it was unclear where the character would go. Having a past version of him survive made a lot of sense in Endgame, but now we get to see if Loki can actually live up to that retcon. Going off the trailers, the show centers around Loki dealing with the TVA (remember, that’s Time Variance Authority)—a group responsible for dealing with problems in the timeline. Loki surviving is obviously a big issue, so they cut a deal with Loki: if he helps them fix the timeline and deal with larger threats, he can have his life.
This requires Loki to travel throughout time and space, which is likely what a large portion of the episodes will focus on. Loki’s personality has always been the largest selling point of his character in these movies, so seeing him tumble throughout history is sure to be a good time. But there are definite hints in the trailer that there’s more going on here with the TVA, and considering this version of Loki’s more villainous nature, anything could happen. We’ll just have to wait and see for Loki’s first episode to release on June 9th, 2021.