We might currently be in the midst of one Marvel television project in Disney+’s The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, but the House of Ideas wanted to remind us all of what’s on the horizon today. Our latest look at Loki, the mind-bending spinoff that throws the god of tricks into a temporal mess of his own making, presented a lot more to take in. Here’s everything we could spot.
The trailer opens seemingly where Avengers: Endgame left off: Loki (Tom Hiddleston), now in possession of the Tesseract after the Avengers failed to successfully retrieve the artefact housing the Space Stone, has seemingly escaped his fated death at the hands of Thanos. Except…well, he’s now been captured and hauled off by a heavily armoured unknown agent (played by Lovecraft Country breakout Wunmi Mosaku).
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“I know what this place is,” Loki mocks, as he’s hauled through the heady combination of ‘70s aesthetic and brutalist architecture — in actuality, shot at the Marriott Marquis Atlanta, the hotel that famously hosts DragonCon — that is the hub of operations for the Time Variance Authority.
Three statues are seen both here and in reliefs around the TVA’s office — including behind Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s Judge Ravonna Lexus Renslayer. She’s a TVA agent who, in the comics, was actually a 40th Century princess who had caught the eye of time-manipulating menace Kang the Conqueror (MCU will see him played by Jonathan Majors, set to appear in Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania), sparking a time-spanning love-hate relationship. The statues depict the Time-Keepers, who Loki mocks as he’s processed through layers of administration.
First introduced in the ‘70s in the comics, the Time-Keepers are three godlike beings who exist at the very last moments of the entire multiverse, created by He Who Remains, the final director of the TVA — itself a bureaucratic temporal force that monitors all time and space in the multiverse. Intended as both a source of chronological power and as a record of the entire multiversal history to teach the next cycle of universes beyond it, the Time-Keepers were actually preceded by a trio of entities called the Time-Twisters. Those beings were failed attempts by He Who Remains to create omnipotent guardians that now perpetually tussle with the Time-Keepers over two branching realities of all existence for dominance.
Now that your head’s sufficiently split wide open, let’s get back to something a little less heady.
Part of Loki’s administrative whirlwind tour puts him on the path of TVA agent Mobius M. Mobius, played by Owen Wilson. Mobius is another character from the comics, a middle-manager in the TVA best known for having a go at the Fantastic Four for meddling with time. His appearance is another artefact from the comics, reflecting a change in the TVA for its live-action debut: Wilson’s suit and mustachioed look is meant to evoke beloved Marvel Comics editor Mark Gruenwald, the publisher’s top continuity expert and who, in the comics, every TVA employee was actually originally a clone of.
One ginormous stack of paperwork later, Mobius sets up the premise for the show as he explains to Loki during his processing interview: Loki broke all of time as the agency knew it when he picked up the Tesseract during the events of Endgame, and has now been press-ganged into service to help fix the repeatedly-diverging timeline, thanks to his “unique” perspective.
An important thing to note here in Loki’s TVA uniform: the back of it, glanced as he, Mobius, and two TVA agents step through a portal into what appears to be some kind of Renaissance fair (not an actual medieval market, as the stall right in front of them appears to have maps on sale), is stamped with “VARIANT.”
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It’s important to remember that this is not the Loki that most Marvel movie fans fell in love with over the years and who had a great deal of character growth. As far as this series is concerned, that character is still dead and gone after Thanos broke his neck in the opening of Infinity War. This is Loki circa the time of 2012’s The Avengers when he had barely started his path to semi-redemption. It will be interesting to see how the writers deal with such a timeline aberration.
“You really believe in this Loki variant,” Renslayer asks, as Mobius counters that Loki is arrogant enough to believe in his own capabilities enough “for the both of us,” as we’re treated to both Loki himself and other TVA agents entering different alternate branches of time: first up is the neon-signs of a “Roxxcart,” which looks like a Walmart-esque take on the sinister Roxxon Corporation. That’s an energy conglomerate that, in the comics, is usually engaged in some sort of illegal corporate espionage and underhanded dealings. In the MCU, they’ve mostly been a background Easter egg reference, playing a larger role in the origins of the powers received by Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Johnson to turn them into superheroes in Cloak and Dagger.
Loki himself, meanwhile, finds himself in an alternate timeline in a ruined New York, now overgrown — note the still-barely-standing Avengers Tower in the background.
And then we also get a glimpse of a purple-hued quarry, presumably some kind of alien world. There are signs of a small settlement of huts there, and we glimpse Loki trying to avoid a meteor strike.
Through this though, we also get shots indicating two very interesting things happening at the TVA — the first is that, obviously, Loki’s relationship with the agency is not entirely amicable. Not only does he mock Mobius for thinking the TVA has the upper hand in their relationship, we also see him confront Renslayer and multiple other TVA soldiers, wielding his trademark knives, and there are multiple shots of what looks like Loki trying to evade Mobius and his TVA handlers. We wouldn’t expect anything less, really.
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But separately, we also get glimpses of a black-hooded figure using the TVA’s temporal gates and attacking their agents. Who it is remains a big mystery, but it presumably isn’t our Variant Loki.
A few more timey-wimey shots introduce us to more alternate realities. In one Loki is back in an Asgardian throne room (and his familiar garb)…
In another, he investigates an ornate hallway covered in fracture lines, with the purple lighting, possibly the same world we saw briefly earlier…
In the most oblique reference to Marvel’s comics, Loki is accosted by some apocalyptic-looking warriors while wearing a modified version of his classic horned helmet and a nice three-piece suit, adorned with a presidential campaign pin. This look is a reference to the 2016 comic series Vote Loki, in which, well, Loki encourages you to do exactly that when he participates in the U.S. presidential election as a candidate with a pro-lying platform.
“You’re not big on trust, are you?” Mobius asks, as we get a brief wink to a shot we saw in the first trailer for the show — Loki in disguise as D.B. Cooper, the infamous 1971 plane hijacker who, having successfully held a 747 hostage for $US200,000 ($261,260) and promptly parachuted out of the plane mid-flight, never to be seen again.
One more gag about Loki not being trustworthy in the slightest later, the trailer ends on a montage of action shots — the mysterious figure in black in what looks like the ornate building Loki was investigating earlier, Loki fighting black-uniformed guards, and what looks an awful lot like Loki and Mobius chilling out in Pompeii mid-Vesuvius-eruption. But perhaps the most interesting shot of all is Loki back on that purple-hued planet, sitting down to watch some small meteorites fall with a reddish-blonde haired woman.
People have already run with the theory that, given this purple hue and the fact that this is a woman in what looks like stealth gear, there’s a distinct possibility that this planet is Vormir, the resting place of the Soul Stone in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, and that this is a version of Black Widow before she yeeted herself off a cliff in order for her sacrifice to make the Soul Stone manifest.
Except…it very much isn’t. First off, when Natasha sacrifices herself, she’s not actually wearing her Infinity War-era platinum blonde hair anymore, her hair had grown with a good chunk of red roots showing, and she was wearing it plaited into a ponytail. While this woman is in similar gear, the outfit we see here is actually that of the mysterious cloaked assailant from earlier: note the sword scabbard. Whoever this mysterious figure is, we may know who is playing them: Sophia Di Martino, set pictures of whom seemingly hinted that she could play a female variant of Loki, wearing very similar Asgardian armour to his own.
Like the first trailer, this latest look at Loki is big on mystery rather than actually really telling us what’s going on. Although it’s much clearer in terms of what the TVA wants out of Loki, and the reason it’s going through all the trouble to work with him in the first place, we have much, much less of an idea of what’s in it for this form of the troublesome Laufeyson, beyond the chance to enact his own brand of chaos across an entire multiverse of timelines.
Whatever he has up his immaculately wardrobed sleeves, we won’t really get the full picture until Loki begins its six-episode run on Disney+ starting June 11.