This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
Contains spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has had a villain problem almost since it was first conceived, and this problem can be articulated thus: No villain it has produced is as sophisticated as Loki. As played by Tom Hiddleston, Loki is evil enough to root against, but enough of an underdog to root for. We love to hate him as much as we hate to love him. Apt stuff, for a character who thrives on contradiction and uncertainty.
Loki may have faced a rather ignominious and final-looking death on-screen during Avengers: Infinity War, but let’s face it: it’s not like Marvel to waste good IP. After a long rumor cycle, it was recently confirmed that Hiddleston will be back as Loki for a short-run TV show, expected to debut on Disney’s forthcoming streaming platform, Disney+.
“Spoilers for Avengers 4!” we may hear you cry, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Marvel has shown a willingness to jump back and forth through its timeline of late (both Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 and the forthcoming Captain Marvel occur out of chronological order) while Disney’s own just-announced Cassian Andor TV series is planned as a prequel to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. We know the Loki TV show will star Hiddleston, but we don’t know how he’ll appear in it or when it’ll be set.
But what we can do is look at some of the best Loki stories told in Marvel’s comics and ask ourselves: what might the TV show take from them?
Journey Into Mystery
Created by Kieron Gillen and a variety of artistic collaborators, Journey Into Mystery was, notably, a story about a version of Loki who had just died. Resurrected in a child’s body and given guidance by his former self (inhabiting a raven named Ikol), this critically acclaimed run posed the question: How can anyone possibly trust that the God of Mischief has changed his ways?
The series saw Loki defending Asgard in his own less-than-heroic style, employing subterfuge and pragmatic dealings to set his homeworld’s enemies against one another. This Loki – aka Kid Loki – was kinder, gentler, and altogether more decent than his previous version, which is why it was such a shame that no-one trusted him no matter how far they could throw him. And make no mistake, he was a kid. They could throw him pretty far.
One thing that points to Journey Into Mystery as a possible influence on the TV show is an exchange that actually takes place in Thor: Ragnarok. As Thor and Loki fight, Thor says: “Dear brother, you’re becoming predictable. I trust you, you betray me, round and round in circles we go. See, Loki, life is about… it’s about growth. It’s about change. But you seem to just wanna stay the same. I guess what I’m trying to say is that you’ll always be the God of Mischief, but you could be more.”
That is, in a nutshell, the premise of Gillen’s series. If the Loki TV show is a sequel to Infinity War (and therefore Ragnarok) there’s almost no better place to go with it. Who doesn’t want to see a younger Loki striving for redemption? And, more importantly, going for milkshakes alongside Leah, a teenage goth version of Hela who appeared in the original run? Use Hiddleston in Ikol’s place – a spectre appearing as the new Loki’s most untrusted advisor – and we have a fresh, younger version of Loki who could appear in future movies (Young Avengers, anyone?) while maintaining the presence of the old one.
Agent Of Asgard
Although in the comics this story follows up Journey Into Mystery, there’s absolutely no reason a Loki TV show couldn’t jump straight into Agent Of Asgard. It would have at least one obvious benefit over the high-fantasy yarns Loki normally stars in: it would be a LOT cheaper.
That’s because Agent Of Asgard, by Al Ewing and Lee Garbett, sees the character assuming the role of an undercover spy: infiltrating, destabilizing, and generally upsetting the current order in an attempt to wipe his moral slate clean. That’s not to say he’s exclusively hanging out in casinos and hotels, but it’s more about Loki doing precision work with his wits than charging into battle against a horde of trolls or making poison-pen bargains with fire demons.
Fusing genres, an Agent Of Asgard TV show could be an almost urban fantasy take on Loki as he uses his magical powers and silver tongue to nobler ends. We haven’t forgotten how good the character looked in his distinctly Midgard-wear suit during the opening sequence of Ragnarok, after all, and what better way to respond to the never-going-away rumour that Hiddleston could be the next Bond than by showing us what he might look like as a secret agent? Possibly for a reformed SHIELD?
This take would be the perfect on co-star, as his earthbound backup, the MCU’s Asgardian experts Darcy Lewis and Dr. Selvig (who realistically speaking aren’t likely to turn up in a Thor movie again). It practically writes itself, and even if it doesn’t, I’d happily do it.
Put it this way: if Marvel does a Secret Agent Loki TV show, it isn’t just the Martinis that would be shaken, stirred, and extremely dirty.
The Lost Gods
On a completely different tack: it’s hard to escape the reality that most of Asgard’s gods (and the civilians) were killed during Ragnarok, which presents a slight problem in terms of giving Loki any kind of supporting cast. That’s not as big a problem as you might expect, because in Norse mythology (or in Marvel’s version of it at any rate) Ragnarok is a cycle of death and rebirth in which the gods die and are reborn. This has taken place multiple times in the comics, and will surely happen again.
In the past, a version of this storyline was done as The Lost Gods, spinning out of Thor and Loki’s death. The premise is simple: Asgard is empty, and one man needs to refill it by locating the spirits of the old gods that have been trapped, amnesiac, in the roles of normal humans on Earth. In the ’90s comic version of this storyline that man was Red Norvell, a former wielder of Mjolnir who found himself Asgard’s only hope. Later, Thor himself took on a similar role in J. Michael Straczynski’s reboot of the series.
But with the MCU Asgard empty and the gods dead, who better than Loki to be given the task of rebuilding Asgardian society? Especially because he, of all people, is the one who might think the universe better off without it. That’s the sort of contradiction that makes Loki sing as a character, and it’s a premise we’d love to see in action.
The opportunities are endless, especially if Thor dies in Infinity War and Loki becomes the only remaining Asgardian. Perhaps, in an inversion of Journey Into Mystery, Loki ends up babysitting a child who could be the new Thor. Perhaps he ends up with his only partner in crime being Sigyn, who you may know as his ex-wife from the comics – there’d be a certain hilarity in the first god he awakens being the one who hates him most of any of them, after all.
And if those ideas don’t grab you, how about Valkyrie? Tessa Thompson’s disgraced warrior quite definitely survived Thanos’ attack in Infinity War, probably because she was passed out drunk in the ship’s hold. Putting her on TV alongside Loki would give audiences what they want: a stereotype-defying buddy-god series with the MCU characters we want to see more of.
The Trials Of Loki
The MCU loves its origin stories, and while Thor gave us a reasonably clear look at Loki’s flip from selfish dick to megalomaniacal dick… well, we still don’t know how he became a dick. In the comics, the miniseries The Trials Of Loki, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (of Riverdale and Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina fame) gave us the chance to see that happen in real time.
This story could be a prequel, revisiting Thor and Loki’s earlier years, and specifically – as in the comics – why it is that Asgardians loathe Loki almost as much as they love Thor? Of course, while casting Hiddleston in a prequel presents a slight issue: Asgardians live for hundreds of years – a lifetime could fit in the gaps that exist in their backstory and it wouldn’t take more than a cheap Instagram filter to make Hiddleston look younger than he was in Thor.
Think of all the dangling threads we could see tied up. Loki learning magic from his mother. The nascent attraction to Sif the comics have occasionally hinted at. His and a younger Thor’s prank-filled horseplay across the nine worlds. What’s not to like? Of course, the main problem with this idea is that it relies quite heavily on featuring other characters from the MCU. Expensive ones.
But trying to guess what Marvel Studios will do based on the comics is dangerous – they rarely use them as much more than a jumping-off point. You only have to compare the Winter Soldier movie to the Winter Soldier comic to know that. But if you want to get your fill of classic Loki yarns before Marvel Studios add another to the canon, at least you know where to look – and if you think you have any better ideas for where Loki might go on TV, let’s hear them…
Thanks to Kirsten Howard for additional material.