This article contains spoilers for Marvel’s Loki episode 2, “The Variant.”
Marvel’s Loki episode 2, “The Variant” is all about exactly what you think it is: uncovering the mystery of who the murderous Loki variant the TVA is tracking. And the ending of Loki episode 2 does exactly that…or does it?
While we’re certainly meant to believe on first glance that the mysterious and magical woman under the hood is simply a female variant of Loki, and there is plenty of precedent for Loki’s genderfluid nature in the comics, there’s just enough ambiguity (and even a little bit of evidence) to point to the fact that “Lady Loki” might not be “Lady Loki” at all.
But let’s start with the golden-horned elephant in the room, because you might be wondering why there’s a lady version of Loki running around in the first place…
Our story starts at the end: Ragnarok. Marvel Comics Ragnarok, that is.
Thor: Disassembled was the closing arc to the volume of Thor comics that ran from 1996’s Heroes Reborn until approximately 2004. It was written by Michael Avon Oeming and drawn by Andrea di Vito, and it was excellent, a meta take on the role of story in the world and how characters react to fate, destiny, and free will when they are part of a story.
It’s also a surprisingly huge influence on the philosophical conversations in this week’s episode – in the comics version, Thor became the All Father and saw the cyclical suffering his people were forced to suffer as Ragnaroks recurred, so, with Loki’s severed head dangling from his belt and protesting the whole way through, Thor initiated a “final” Ragnarok and shattered the loom at the base of the World Tree.
Two years later, Asgard was reborn over Broxton, Oklahoma, during J. Michael Straczynski run as writer on Thor. The reborn Thor was tasked with finding the reborn versions of his fellow Asgardians, and one of those, to Thor’s great surprise, was a new female Loki. She stayed pretty villainous the whole time she was a woman, most notably joining Norman Osborn’s Cabal (the bad guy mirror of Marvel’s Illuminati, a team composed of ostensibly good guys who mostly just hung out together doing a ton of awful shit).
So how does this tie into this week’s episode and the possible Lady Loki we meet here? Well, for that we need to look at another Loki “variant” from the comics…
Between Mobius discussing the possibility that Loki wants to shake up his behavior and Loki’s claims that literally stabbing people in the back is overdone, things seem a bit reminiscent of Loki’s behavior in the comics circa Siege. In that story, Loki died a heroic, albeit somewhat pointless death against the Void. Soon after, Loki was reborn as a child and gained the trust of the likes of Thor and certain others.
This turned out to be Loki’s plan from the beginning. The “evil trickster” persona was too predictable and had hit a wall, so he staged his own death (while keeping his soul alive) and had himself resurrected as a child who wanted to use his skills for good.
To make a long, very complicated (but very good) story short: old evil Loki overwrote the good child after a battle with Mephisto and took the child’s place. Wracked with guilt and still desiring to break the chains of his destiny (and also existing in a universe where IRL Tom Hiddleston was enormously popular and charming), old evil Loki in a teenage body decided to try and rewrite his own future and continued doing good.
Or at least good-ish – he manipulated a group of Avengers-adjacent teen heroes into reforming the Young Avengers so he could defeat an interdimensional parasite that took the form of the Avengers’ parents, all to protect one of the Scarlet Witch’s kids from going mad with his power. This is a roundabout way of saying: stay tuned for Young Avengers on D+ in 2023, gang (Editor’s note: this show hasn’t been announced, confirmed, or even credibly rumored…but, c’mon, we all know it’s happening).
ANYWAY, one of the features that distinguished Lady Loki from her predecessor was her ability to possess her victims. This runs contrary to Loki Prime, as most of his possession abilities come from use of the Mind Stone. Otherwise, the closest thing is whatever spell he put Odin under at the end of Thor: The Dark World. This is a likely indicator that Lady Loki has a more advanced power set than Loki Prime – it’s possible that a Loki returning from the MCU’s Thor: Ragnarok and his death at the hands of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War could have developed her powers more over time. It’s also possible she’s got some Mind Stone in her, but that’s unlikely given that we’ve seen a pile of inert Infinity Gems in Casey’s desk.
Who is Sylvie?
But it’s also very possible that Lady Loki isn’t a Loki at all.
In the Castillian dub credits at the end of the episode, Sophie di Martino’s character, who we’re all assuming to be Loki based on comics history and the dialogue in the show, is credited as “Sylvie.”
Sylvie Lushton was a regular girl living in Broxton, Oklahoma, when the reborn Asgard appeared in the sky over her hometown. The reborn Lady Loki, on a lark, decided to give Sylvie powers just to mess with her, and mess with her it did.
Sylvie, using her new powers to justify the idea that she was actually a reborn Asgardian, took on the name Enchantress (more on that in a moment), moved to New York, and started trying to join a superhero team. She was eventually recruited to join Norman Osborn’s subtly dark version of the Young Avengers, before Lady Loki dropped a bomb on her: she didn’t really exist, and was only created to entertain Loki. Sylvie refused to accept that, and healed…somehow…from a power loss tied with Loki’s death.
From there, Sylvie was manipulated into joining more supervillain teams before posing as Amora the Enchantress to infiltrate a new Cabal of villains. When the real Amora caught wind of this, she was understandably pissed about the brand dilution and launched Sylvie into the Ten Realms to see if she would survive.
Someone Else Entirely?
The MCU is under no obligation to be faithful to the comics, and they love mixing up elements of characters and stories to suit their own storytelling purposes. To that end, it’s possible that the big Loki episode 2 ending is actually revealing a character who is both Lady Loki AND Sylvie, and considering that Sylvie was initially just a magical creation of Loki anyway, we can see how this would make sense.
The case both for and against this being Lady Loki can be found in her dialogue, particularly when she has possessed Hunter B-15. “If anyone’s anyone, you’re me,” sure sounds like something one variant Loki might say to another. But then her “don’t call me that” admonition to Loki might hint at something else going on.
Whoever that was at the end of the episode, it’s an intriguing mystery that makes episode 3 appointment viewing.