Disney+’s newest Marvel series Loki follows the God of Mischief on what is likely to be his strangest and most chaotic adventure yet: working with a time travel organization to repair the fabric of space and time after accidentally threatening the fate of the entire Multiverse. But when in the Marvel timeline is this Disney+ series set? And what version of Loki is this, exactly?
As most MCU fans likely remember, the chaotic but charming Loki we grew to love over the past decade was actually killed by Thanos at the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War, when the genocidal Titan attacked the ship carrying Thor, Loki, and the rest of the Asgardians to Earth. Despite his past alliance with Thanos and his long history of stabbing his brother Thor in the back, Loki died a hero after using his last moments to unsuccessfully attempt to kill Thanos. There understandably wasn’t much time for mourning in the rest of Infinity War, but viewers certainly lamented the loss of the beloved villain turned antihero.
However, the events of Avengers: Endgame changed all of that. In 2023, five years after Thanos used the Infinity Gauntlet to wipe out half of all living beings in the universe, the remaining Avengers concocted a truly wild plan to defeat Thanos by traveling back in time to steal the Infinity Stones from earlier points in the timeline. One of the Avengers’ past destinations was 2012, where they planned to steal the Time Stone, the Mind Stone, and the Space Stone (which was contained in a cube called the Tesseract) during Loki’s attack on New York City. (For those of you trying to keep up, these events originally occurred during the 2012 movie The Avengers.) Unsurprisingly, things did not go as smoothly as they’d hoped, and in the confusion, 2012 Loki was able to grab the Tesseract and escape S.H.I.E.L.D. custody by jumping into a wormhole — perfectly setting the stage for the Loki Disney+ series.
Unlike the Loki who died in Infinity War, this 2012 version of Loki hasn’t worked through any of his contempt towards his father Odin for lying about his past, nor has he reconciled with his brother Thor. In fact, up until recently, the influence of the Mind Stone had actually been fueling his anger towards Thor. Though Loki is given a sort of redemption arc during Thor: The Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok, that won’t be happening for another five years in the timeline of the show. And in the original MCU timeline, Loki spends that period of time up to his usual tricks — more specifically, impersonating his father in order to rule over Asgard in Thor’s absence. In other words, the version of Loki that’s starring in the Disney+ series is a loose (and mildly evil) cannon.
“I love this idea [of] Loki's chaotic energy somehow being something we need,” Loki star Tom Hiddleston told Entertainment Weekly. “Even though, for all sorts of reasons, you don't know whether you can trust him. You don't know whether he's going to betray you. You don't why he's doing what he's doing. If he's shapeshifting so often, does he even know who he is?”