This article contains Loki spoilers.
One of the most exciting aspects of the new Marvel Disney+ series Loki so far has been the introduction of the concept of Variants, different versions of familiar characters whose choices and actions have diverged from their primary timeline in some way.
The show, for example, isn’t about the Loki we saw die in Avengers: Infinity War, but follows a version of the character who stole the Tesseract and disappeared following the Battle of New York in the wake of some Avengers-style time heist hijinks. But this Loki isn’t the only alternate version of the God of Mischief running around our screens.
At the end of its second episode, Loki introduced a female version of the character, who also sports decorative horns, loves the color green, and has a penchant for cynical commentary. But this take on the famous trickster is probably not what anyone expected – an intriguing mix of multiple comics characters combined to create a woman who feels like something entirely new, with an obvious agenda of her own.
Here’s what we know about Sylvie so far, what we’re still wondering, and what we think it all might mean.
At the end of Loki’s second episode, most of us assumed that the female Loki variant was in fact Lady Loki, a female version of the character from the world of Marvel Comics who was generally villainous and could possess and control the minds of her victims (think Wanda back in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but in addition to just making people see things she could control their bodies too).
But although it’s obvious that this character is both a woman and a Loki, “Lamentis” makes it clear that she’s also not precisely Lady Loki, at least not as comics readers would understand the character. Here, she goes by Sylvie, her TVA file lists her surname as Laufeydottir, and she appears to be a true variant/alternate universe version of our original recipe Loki, whose experiences largely mirror his, just with a few key differences.
The name Sylvie indicates that this female variant’s character is also at least partially based on Sylvie Lushton, a regular human who was granted Asgardian powers as part of a cruel joke and became the sorceress known as Enchantress. (No, not the one you know from DC’s Suicide Squad). Given that her magic is referred to roughly a dozen times in “Lamentis” as enchantments this seems like an obvious connection to draw.
This variant seems to have chosen her own name, however, at least in part as a way to reject her identity as a Loki, for reasons we don’t yet know. The general circumstances of her origin are still fairly mysterious, though a Disney+ featurette gives us a blink and you’ll miss it glimpse at a female child Loki (complete with dark hair!) being brought in by TVA operatives that indicates there’s more information to come on this front.
Sylvie’s magic is very different from our Loki’s
In the world of the Avengers, “our” Loki can only control minds with the help of an Infinity Stone. Sylvie can do it by touch, using her enchantment powers to project elaborate illusions into the minds of her target or even possess their physical bodies. These abilities are so impressive that Loki himself is actually jealous of them, which hints that they must be fairly rare and/or difficult to master.
Interestingly, Sylvie’s magic is also entirely self-taught, which gives her a fairly nontraditional backstory as a sorceress and hints at the reasons she herself might have become a Variant (perhaps teaching herself magic is what triggered the Nexus event that made her a Variant in the first place). Furthermore, it’s probably not an accident that Sylvie’s powers, when they’re being used, look an awful lot like something we’ve already seen before: Wanda Maximoff’s chaos abilities.
Whether that’s 100% on purpose or it’s just the fact that glowing squiggles are the easiest way to represent mind control powers, it’s hard not to notice the similarity between the two. Especially when we get clips of Sylvie saying things like “The universe wants to break free, so it manifests chaos. Like me.”
The gaps in Sylvie’s past
Whereas Loki possesses fond memories of learning magic tricks at the feet of his mother, Frigga, Sylvie grew up knowing she was adopted and doesn’t seem to have many memories at all of her parents or where she came from. She also specifically doesn’t give us any real details about her past – though Loki specifically says he’s the child of frost giants, Sylvie never concurs, and she goes out of her way to avoid mentioning anything at all about her family.
All we know about her really is that she’s spent most of her life not as Asgardian royalty, but on the run from the TVA and persecuted for her very nature. Is that enough to make anyone want revenge? Probably. I mean, she had to learn that vicious hand-to-hand fighting style somewhere. But her vendetta toward the Time Variance Authority seems deeply personal, even though we don’t know exactly how she first came into contact with them just yet.
Sylvie’s plan: is she trying to create another multiverse?
Loki’s decision to help the Time Variance Authority track down the Variant that had been attacking Minutemen apparently thwarted a plan Sylvie claims had been in the works “for years”. Given that our Loki is not exactly known for things like dedication, patience, or work ethic, this is something of a marked difference between the two.
Ostensibly, her plan to release reset charges across the Sacred Timeline – essentially a bomb that would create multiple new branches simultaneously – is meant to give her the opportunity to get to the Time Keepers. But Sylvie’s been remarkably unforthcoming about what she wants from them or plans to do with/to them once she finds them, a fact which isn’t that surprising given that Loki has thus far been loath to even really tell us what the Time Keepers are.
What if she has more than one goal here? Is her attack enough to recreate the multiverse that the creation of Sacred Timeline destroyed? After all, we know that the idea of a multiverse is about to be a very big deal in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Both WandaVision and Spider-Man: Far From Home played around with the concept, and we know that upcoming films Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Spider-Man: No Way Home will confront the idea of alternate realities and multiple versions of familiar characters head-on.
Is this where that all begins, officially? Since Sylvie seems to know that all the TVA workers are actually brainwashed variants from timelines that the organization erased – could she be trying to give them all back their freedom?