Each episode of Loki delivers a new mind-bending twist on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even the mere introduction of the abusive Time Variance Authority and the Sacred Timeline radically shook up everything we thought we knew about the “Infinity Saga.” And honestly, we’d expect nothing less from a show starring the God of Mischief. But how many Gods of Mischief can one show conceivably hold?
We already had Loki and Sylvie, but with the end credits scene of episode 4, we met four more Lokis. And this week’s penultimate episode, “Journey Into Mystery” (named for the Marvel comic series in which Thor first appeared), introduced even more.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for Loki episode 5, “Journey Into Mystery.”]
In episode 4 of Loki, Loki and Sylvie discovered that the omniscient creators of the Sacred Timeline, the floaty-chair-sitting Time-Keepers, were just a bunch of animatronics. While they were still reeling, Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) pruned the god into oblivion. That seemed like the end for Loki, but like most of what the TVA gets involved in, what happens on the surface doesn’t explain everything that’s going on.
In a post-credits scene, Tom Hiddleston’s version of Loki popped up in a ravaged cityscape, complete with a crumbling Stark Tower. A fair assumption might be that this is an Earth where Loki and Thanos’ attack on New York went according to plan, but instead of finding a mirror version of himself lording over the world as king, Loki met a number of new Loki variants.
As Judge Renslayer explained in episode 5, when matter is pruned from variant timelines, it isn’t immediately incinerated. Instead, it’s sent to the temporal equivalent of an incinerator: the Void, a time/place at the end of time/space. There, all things are eventually devoured by a terrible storm monster called Alioth.
Who are these Lokis at the end of time?
The caped Loki with the largest horns is “Classic Loki” (at least by the credits’ description), a mirror image of Jack Kirby’s original take on the character, as played by Richard E. Grant — whom fans have long speculated might show up as Mephisto, even back in WandaVision.
Not quite. In bold yellow and green with a Kermit-the-Frog-like collar, Grant’s Loki is a dead ringer for the version of Loki who reigned as devilish king over Marvel’s Thor mythos for decades. If you only know Loki from the MCU, or Marvel Comics after Agent of Asgard, it’s tough to separate the Tom Hiddleston of it all from the character. His portrayal has shaped the modern characterization of the God of Mischief for years.
But before Hiddleston’s entrance into the MCU, Marvel’s Loki was this thin-faced, jester-garbed figure — wizened where Thor was muscular, sour-faced where Thor was handsome, and as irredeemably evil as Thor was worthy. Marvel’s classic Loki had as much red in his ledger as any other genocidal supervillain, and he felt about as much remorse as the Joker or Carnage. He was not the sympathetic trickster we know today.
Loki’s Classic Loki has his own layer of pathos, though — episode 5 explains that he was a Loki who put all his specialization points into illusions, and survived Thanos’ attack in Avengers: Endgame by going into hiding alone. It was only when he started to miss Asgard and his brother, and set out to rejoin them, that he was pruned by the TVA.
Classic Loki’s transition from villain to antihero took place over many years, but reached an inflection point during Marvel’s Siege event, when he super, super died. And at the same time that the old Loki died, a new Loki appeared in the comics: Kid Loki.
Kid Loki is played by Jack Veal on Loki, and in the comics, he was created by Classic Loki as a very long-game bit of trickery. But functionally, he was a younger version of Loki who had yet to commit grievous crimes and had the potential to have a better (though still not completely heroic) nature.
Thor believed in his brother where the rest of Asgard didn’t, and that gave Kid Loki plenty of room to use his “Ain’t I a stinker?” vibes to become a fan favorite. Though he eventually gave way to the narrative need for a fully adult Loki, Kid Loki cameos are not uncommon in Marvel Comics, and some of his adventures, particularly with the Young Avengers, remain very popular.
In a bit of fun irony, Loki’s Kid Loki is the most respected of the Void Lokis — because of all of them, he’s the only one who managed to kill his Thor.
Episode 5 introduces one more Loki with a direct inspiration in the comics: President Loki. In 2016’s Vote Loki series, Loki ran for president of the United States, on an open platform of lies. He didn’t win, but the President Loki of Loki appears to have at least convinced a small army of other Variant Lokis to follow his leadership.
Comics history doesn’t have much to clear up about the other Lokis in episode 5. Deobia Oparei, whose credits include Sex Education and Game of Thrones, seems to be playing a version of Loki that’s more like Thor — his heroic outfit even comes with its own hammer. Oparei’s Loki says that he’s defeated both Thor and Iron Man, and seized all six Infinity Stones — but then again, the credits refer to him as Boastful Loki, and we only have his word for it.
And then there’s Alligator Loki. Where did he come from? What does he want? What was his Nexus Event? We have no idea, but we wouldn’t want him mad at us.