By Henry Belman
In the Disney+ series Loki, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki goes through a slightly different arc than the one he went through in the movies.
Breakdown of his movie arc.
Loki’s arc starts in Thor. He is already a god of mischief and is insanely jealous of thor. Loki takes the throne and tries to kill thor. He also learns that he is a frost giant. All of this contributes to some serious daddy issues, both for the one who abandoned him and the one who lied. This resentment of his family leads him to faking his death in Thor and he somehow ends up with Thanos. Thanos gives him the mind stone scepter which enhances Loki’s power. Loki was humbled by the events of Avengers and also became even more resentful of Thor.
The story splits.
Loki is locked away after The Avenger. This causes the aforementioned resentment, which enhances his narcissism and self-pity that have defined his character. His redemption arc begins in Thor: Dark World after his mother dies. He truly loved Frigga, so this caused him to form an alliance with Thor to take down their mother’s killer. Loki does keep his negative traits like his ambition for power, but he shows he cares for his brother, saving his life and seemingly sacrificing his own. He then takes the throne of Asgard by impersonating Odin. We see in Ragnarok that he keeps his disguise but uses his position to weaken Asgard and to glorify himself.
It is in Ragnarok that his character develops even further. He finds his love for his brother and while he still is a narcissistic backstabber, he does in the end find that he cares. His journey ends in Infinity War where he chooses his brother to overpower and sacrifices himself for real. This arc was primarily about losing the resentment he had for his family without losing the mischievousness that makes him Loki. He was still frankly not a good person, even in Infinity war, as had they not been ambushed by Thanos he would have kept the tesseract and found a place to rule. But he no longer did things because of his hatred.
The Post Endgame Timeline
Loki escapes from the Avengers and is instead captured by the Time Variance Authority. In the main timeline, he has the luxury of blaming everyone else for his mistakes. He has the belief that someday he will win and rule. Agent Mobus(Owen Wilson) forces Loki to confront all of his mistakes, past, present, and future. He sees that his only purpose in life is “to cause pain.” He sees his own inevitable death and sits through the main beats in his character arc in the Time Theatre scene. All of Loki’s beliefs about himself are shattered. He admits to Mobius that the violent and evil acts he commits are just an illusion like everything else. A shield to make himself seem and feel strong. This was the first major step in his arc.
The next and equally important part of his arc comes in episode three with his alliance and romance with Sylvie,(played by Sophi Di Martino) his feminine doppelganger. One of the creators of this show, Michael Waldron even says that the story is to him “ultimately about self-love, self-reflection, and forgiving yourself, it just felt right that that would be Loki’s first real love story.” He learns to care about her, and in fact, love her and this gives him a purpose. To destroy the TVA and to keep her safe. This also leads him to open up to others and loving himself.
The final aspect of his transformative arc is meeting the Loki variants in episode 5. Old Loki(Richard E. Grant) makes a particularly strong impact on him, as do the hordes of Loki who continually betray each other. Old Loki reveals that he followed the sacred timeline, except he escaped thanos. He got lonely and became bitter with himself, especially after the TVA pruned him. Then the army of Lokis led by President Loki makes a similar impact through their constant betrayals of each other. Through them, Loki sees the futility of betrayal and that he should start trusting more.
Betrayed at the end
Admittingly, we don’t know where this Loki actually ended up in his arc. He did seem remarkably selfless in the season finale, trying to stop Sylvie from killing The One Who Remains(Jonathan Majors) in order to stop the creation of the multiverse. Loki also doesn’t go with Miss Minutes'(Tara Strong) offer to let him rule. All of that said, both of these selfless actions he does in defense of Sylvie. He sees Sylvie as the perfect version of himself. She is a loki who never got the chance to betray anyone and has one, specific, glorious purpose, to destroy the TVA. Loki didn’t want her to destroy herself by causing chaos in the end. Sylive betrays him and kills The One Who Remains, throwing Loki into an alternative TVA ruled by a variant of The One Who Remains(Kang).
Loki becomes arguably more selfless over that one week than he did over 8 years of the MCU. But we have not seen this attitude applied to anyone but Sylvie and maybe mobius. So it remains to be seen whether this new outlook will stay, or if he will be back to his mischief in either season two or in the next Doctor Strange movie.
I think his movie arc was a bit better, but Loki’s arc in the show still made sense and was well done at several points. If there is anything I missed, please let me know.
All images belong to Marvel Studios Via the Disney Corporation.