Loki has already had a full arc in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The fan-favorite character, played by Tom Hiddleston, began as a villain in Thor and the first Avengers movie in 2011 and 2012 and morphed into something of an anti-hero, or at least a lovable cad, by the time Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War were released in 2017 and 2018. Now, Marvel is turning back the clock and undoing Loki’s maturation. The new Disney+ series Loki, debuting June 9, will be a soft reboot for the character.
The trailers for the show reveal little except that a 2012 version of the Marvel antihero is recruited by a group of time cops to restore order to the universe. But this “Loki variant,” as he is called, has not learned to love his brother Thor (Chris Hemsworth) or the importance of being a hero. He’ll likely have to learn those lessons all over again as he hops through time and—as some fans predict—meets different versions of himself in different universes.
If Loki’s time-traveling antics already have you confused, here’s everything you need to know about what happened to Loki before the show, how time travel works in the MCU and how Loki will tie into future Marvel movies.
Loki is a trickster who switches allegiances from movie to movie. Like his brother Thor, he is a god, though he finds out in the Thor movies that he is not the genetic son of Oden, the King of Asgard, as Thor is. He is descended from the Frost Giants and was adopted by Oden.
Thor and Loki have a rather complicated relationship. Loki has tried to usurp Thor and Oden’s power several times and take the throne of Asgard for himself. He even allied himself with Thanos in Avengers and used two of the Infinity Stones to try to enslave all of Earth before the Avengers defeated him.
But Loki has also sacrificed himself several times for his brother. In fact, he “dies” twice in the Thor movies, though it turns out he faked both deaths (through magic, I guess) and always returns to the delight of his fans. By the end of the third Thor movie, Thor: Ragnarok, Loki seems to have changed his ways. He helps Thor save the people of Asgard from their evil sister Hela and plans to help Thor start a new colony for their people.
Unfortunately, just as the Asgardians are making their escape from their burning planet, they are intercepted by Thanos, on the hunt for Infinity Stones. Loki, despite having become an avowed good guy, couldn’t help but steal one of the Infinity Stones from the treasure room at Asgard before they abandoned the planet, thus attracting Thanos to the ship of refugees.
Loki feigns loyalty to Thanos but secretly plots to kill him. But Thanos catches Loki and chokes him to death in front of Thor, quipping, “No resurrections this time” as he kills him.