The following contains A LOT of Avengers: Endgame spoilers. We have a completely spoiler free review right here.
Avengers: Endgame had a lot of “deaths” to un-do. After Thanos’s snap in Avengers: Infinity War wiped out half of all Marvel heroes (along with half of the universe, but that’s decidely less important), it was all but inevitable that Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, and friends would have to find a way to bring them back in Endgame. After all, it would be pretty hard to have a Spider-Man: Far From Home without a Spider-Man.
Still, there were a few deaths in Infinity War that seemed like they had the chance to stick. Chief among those was Loki, Thor’s brother, God of Mischief, and Tom Hiddleston’s meal ticket. Sadly, Loki was killed by Thanos well before the “snap” that halved the universe. In fact, Loki’s death makes up the very first scene of Avengers: Infinity War.
Now in Avengers: Endgame, is Loki among those brought back to life?
Nope! But he’s maybe alive in another timeline. That’s all. Catch you in the next “Is so-and-so alive?” article!
So, it’s complicated. As are all things when time travel is involved. Tom Hiddleston as Loki is actually in Avengers: Endgame. As we now know, the Avengers’ plan to “avenge the fallen” includes using the quantum realm to time travel to various points in their past and steal the Infinity Stones before Thanos can. That’s right: it’s a time heist.
One of those heists involves going back New York in 2012 on the day of the Chitauri invasion to steal the Tesseract (and the Space Stone inside it) from themselves before they can pass it along to SHIELD. It’s in these past scenes that we see Loki in some archival footage but also in some new scenes that Hiddleston shot for the film. In fact, when Tony and Scott Lang’s planned diversion fails, Loki actually absconds with the Tesseract, forcing Tony and Steve to go even further back in time.
It might be worth mentioning now that Loki is among the Marvel heroes getting their own show on the new Disney+ streaming platform. That means that Loki is alive, right? If you can’t have a Spider-Man: Far From Home without Spider-Man, how can you have a Loki TV series without Loki? It’s entirely possible that the Loki in this Disney+ TV show will be this sideways universe Loki who absconded with the Tesseract to Gods knows where.
Though it remains in play that Loki is all-prequel. An early plot description has already kind of explained how Loki can stay dead and still get his own show, should Marvel want to keep him dead in all continuities. The Disney+ Loki TV series will reportedly “follow Loki as the trickster and shape-shifter pops up throughout human history as an unlikely influencer on historical events.” That’s right, Loki will basically be Wishbone with Tom Hiddleston as Wishbone. Perhaps a dead Wishbone. After all, if anyone can cheat death, it’s the God of Mischief with the Space Stone. Or at least a multiversal version of him.
Disney+ and alternate universes aside, the Loki of the MCU’s main timeline is most likely a goner. Despite all the new time we spend with Loki in Avengers: Endgame, he is not among the living who answers Captain America’s call to battle Thanos in the final climactic struggle between good and evil. And sadly, that’s probably because he remains very, very dead.
Not all comic book deaths are created equal. Some are undoubtedly “deathier” than others. It’s been previously speculated among fans that those who died “pre-snap,” i.e. Loki, Heimdal, and Gamora would stay dead while those snapped away by Thanos will be able to return. And in Avengers: Endgame, that’s sort of how things work out…although for a different reason than anticipated.
The reason why Loki doesn’t come back likely has to do with the concept of parallel universes that arise from this kind of time travel (you can read more about that here). In short, The Avengers don’t undo Thanos’s snap by snapping baby Thanos’s neck because that would have had monumental effects on the timeline and may have even created a world in which Tony never had his daughter, Morgan. That was never an option.
Instead, by seeking to steal the Infinity Stones out from under Thanos throughout time, The Avengers made a sort of separate timeline. Loki, Heimdall, and Gamora are dead because the version of Thanos who killed them has always lived (and eventually died on his little farm planet). The only reason why the rest of the vanished are able to come back is because Bruce Banner uses the new Infinity Gauntlet to bring them back. That aspect has nothing to do with time travel, Tony expressly commands that Bruce use the Gauntlet to bring everyone who disappeared back to the present day, five years later.
While the sideways universe of Gamora makes her debut in the present alongside Thanos and her sister Nebula, Loki, Heimdall, and even Black Widow are noticeably absent from the Avengers reinforcements…because they’re dead. It would seem that some kinds of death is impossible for the Gauntlet to reverse. Clint says as much when he sadly tells the others that Red Skull says that Nat’s sacrifice “can’t be undone.”
Perhaps simply undoing what Thanos did wasn’t enough to bring Loki back from the dead. Either that or Bruce and Tony simply forgot to try. Still, everyone’s favorite God of Mischief might be out there in the past of another timeline, living life to its mischievous fullest.