Very few actors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe seem to have a true grasp of their future in the franchise – how many interview snippets have we seen where they admit they genuinely have no idea if they’ll return for another Marvel project or not? – but Tom Hiddleston was told that his God of Mischief was going to die at the start of Avengers: Infinity War by the film’s directors well ahead of time.
For two years, he had to keep Loki’s demise a secret from the world, even before he began working on Thor: Ragnarok.
“[Loki’s death] was the very first scene the Russos, Joe and Anthony, had [come up with],” Hiddleston revealed to Empire magazine. “They told me about it in person when I went in to meet [Marvel Studios president] Kevin [Feige] and he was walking me through the loose sketch of the story for Thor: Ragnarok. This was May 2016.”
Hiddleston added “So I knew, before I started Ragnarok, the endgame… no pun intended. Then it came time, three days in 2017 in the spring – I went out to Atlanta, and there was such a generous atmosphere from people on set. Some I’d known since the early days.”
After touching down in Atlanta, Hiddleston then met Josh Brolin, who was set to play the villainous Thanos in a back-to-back production of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. The actor says the man who was about to choke the life out of him on screen “could not have been sweeter.”
“I remember meeting him, actually, when I landed, before we started filming,” Hiddleston recalled. “He just enveloped me in a big hug and said, ‘I’m sorry, man.’ It was a big day, and a big moment.”
Despite Loki’s very real death in Infinity War – the first of many upsetting moments in the film – Hiddleston was not done playing Thor’s trickster brother (he’s adopted). Avengers: Endgame gave an earlier version of Loki a chance to escape during the movie’s Time Heist sequence, causing a temporal mess he’s tasked with helping to clean up in his upcoming Marvel series, Loki.
Hiddleston doesn’t want to ruin any of Loki’s surprises, but he says the themes of the show will focus on Loki’s long-established shapeshifting identity. “You don’t know whether you can trust him. He literally and physically changes shape into an Asgardian guard, or into Captain America repeatedly. Thor talks about how he could change into a snake.”
The way the series’ logo has been designed also reflects the ever-changing nature of who Loki is, who he has been and who he could potentially become – the driving force of the character’s evolution in Marvel Comics’ more recent arcs, like Kieron Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery and Al Ewing’s Agent of Asgard.
“I think that shapeshifting logo might give you an idea that Loki, the show, is about identity, and about integrating the disparate fragments of the many selves that he can be, and perhaps the many selves that we are. I thought it was very exciting because I’ve always found Loki a very complex construct. Who is this character who can wear so many masks, and changes shape, and seems to change his external feeling on a sixpence?”
Loki will be streaming on Disney+ from June 11.