The Future of Loki

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by The Collected Mutineer

*This post contains heavy spoilers for the character of Loki, particularly in regards to Avengers: Infinity War. If you haven’t seen the film, kindly stop here and enjoy this gif of Tom Hiddleston. Delayed gratification is worth it, you guys.*

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He’s Loki of Asgard. Loki of Jotunheim. A sorcerer and a god caught between worlds, between races, and between alliances. Neither good nor evil, this antihero and trickster became a vital character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In many ways, he is different from his comic universe predecessor. MCU Loki is more sympathetic, less cruel, and definitely more handsome thanks to Tom Hiddleston. But at the end of the day, Loki is Loki is Loki is Loki, and Loki doesn’t die.

Or does he? In Avengers: Infinity War, Loki meets what appears to be his permanent demise during the first five or ten moments of the film. In the few weeks since the film’s release, there have already been countless fan theories as to how Loki might have survived the wrath of (and choking by) Thanos. In other parts of the internet, Hiddlestoners and comic geeks alike speculate that Tom is only listed as appearing in the yet-unnamed Avengers 4 because he filmed some flashback scenes that take place during the original Avengers movie. Could Loki still be alive in the future of the MCU? Or are fans like me just desperate to avoid letting go of our favorite character? Let’s go over the evidence.

Loki’s Powers

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The MCU has only hinted at the extent of Loki’s powers, preferring to focus on his penchant for manipulation and scheming. Based on the films, we do know that he is a Jotun and therefore has strength, stamina, speed, durability, and long life similar to that of his adoptive Asgardian family. We also see his ability to shapeshift, cast illusions, use magic, and in Thor: Ragnarok we even get a glimpse of him seeing into Valkyrie’s memories. We know that he was able to use the Mind Stone to some extent in The Avengers, which probably means that he could wield the stone even without it being enclosed in a staff. But in the comic universe, Loki is even more formidable—which, needless to say, makes it quite annoying that the Russo brothers gave him just a dagger in self-defense.

Loki’s comic universe powers include not only the skills we’ve seen portrayed in the MCU, but also encompass energy projection, force fields, flight, hypnosis, teleportation, astral projection, influencing the actions of others, influencing events, immunity to the mental influences of his enemies, and the ability to live through injuries that would kill basically any regular Asgardian or Jotun. In the past, he also used magical items to enhance these powers even further, making him an adept warrior and a hard mofo to kill off. And in the event that he does meet his demise, Loki found a clever loophole, which is perhaps his greatest strength. He was able to erase his name from the books of Hel, ensuring that should he ever die, he would be reincarnated—as many times as it takes. This has already proven handy, as he was reborn in the form of a guiltless child (aka Kid Loki).

Given all these qualities, not to mention his genius-level intellect, I find it hard to believe that Loki could be killed so easily by Thanos. And even if Thanos could kill him, as it appears on screen, how can Thanos guarantee “no resurrections this time”? While we can’t be sure that the Russo brothers will follow the comic universe when it comes to Loki’s powers or unique way of cheating death, it certainly provides a ray of hope that Loki won’t be really dead.

Does anyone ever really die?

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Which brings me to my next point. Characters are rarely DEAD-dead in any comic universe, be it Marvel or DC. (Even in the first two Thor films, Loki appears to die, but JUST KIDDING, he’s still alive and kicking at the end.) While some characters in the comic universe do meet their demise for good, the majority of the time they are either brought back to life, fall through some loophole, are encountered in an alternate universe, or enjoy a “resurrection” when their storyline is revamped. Here’s a short and by no means complete list of characters to which this has happened. The catch here is that the MCU has finite resources in terms of an actor’s contract. So while a character, or the character’s mantle, may still exist it is likely that the actor portraying them will no longer be part of the MCU.

A prime example is what many of us have gathered will happen to Captain America. In the comics, Steve Rogers isn’t always Cap and Cap isn’t always Steve Rogers. The shield and responsibilities are shouldered by others, like Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson. So when Chris Evans is no longer employed by Marvel, it is likely that another actor will become Captain America. Something similar may happen to Loki, if indeed they decide not to kill him off. When Tom Hiddleston’s contract is up, they could easily hire another actor or actress to portray Loki. This seems even easier for this character than for others, since Loki can take any form or be reborn into any body.

“The sun will shine on us again…”

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There are a few aspects of the “death scene” that have raised a few questions in my own mind, as well as across the interwebs. While many have praised the fact that Loki’s story finally came full circle through redemption and love for his adoptive brother, I can’t shake the overall weirdness of the scene. The audience was shown only a snippet of what occurred. We never see the battle that precedes the scene and can only assume that Valkyrie escaped with half the remaining Asgardian population. We never see Loki, Thor, or Heimdall fighting—we only see the aftermath. And when Loki gives up the Tesseract in order to save Thor, he mysteriously disappears from the screen, turning up again when Thanos is ordering his children to locate the stones that are on Earth. He offers himself up as a guide, but only after coming out of some dark corner.

Why would Loki, a creature with the powers and intellect described above, hide in a dark corner like a coward? What was he doing in that corner, and why would he blatantly confront Thanos with so puny a weapon as a dagger when he undoubtedly knows better? (Remember, Loki worked for Thanos before and has weilded an infinity stone—i.e. he is well aware of what Thanos can do.) Perhaps this is a clue indicating that the body we witness being crushed by Thanos isn’t Loki’s. We know he can hold illusions for long periods of time, ones that are not necessarily disrupted by touch.

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Furthermore, the words said in Loki’s last moments almost appear to be a message specifically chosen for Thor. “The sun will shine on us again,” he promises. They could easily be pretty words, but that just seems too easy for a world as complex as the MCU. In Norse mythology, the sun goddess Sól is a vital character, one at the center of various rituals and celebrations like the Winter Solstice. While she is not included in the comic universe recreations of Norse gods, Sól seems to be there in spirit. In the mythology, she drives her chariot of light across the sky hoping to evade the wolf of darkness. She is eventually consumed not only during the events of Ragnarok, but every year during winter when the Sun disappears from the northern-most parts of the world. The wolf, often stylized as Fenris/Fenrir (yup, Loki’s kid and Hela’s pet) represents death. But death in Norse myths is just as transitional as it is in the comics. Death is not a fixed state but a temporary one associated with cold, dark winter months. Just as winter does not last the coming of spring and the rebirth of the sun, neither does death. Are the Russo brothers in touch with this part of Thor and Loki’s origins? If they are, Loki’s pointed words about the sun could be code. Loki knows as well as Thor that death is not always the end of someone’s story—especially his own.

Do you think that we’ve seen the last of our God of Mischief? Let us know in the comments below, or come cry with me over on Twitter.

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