This article contains major spoilers for Marvel’s Loki episode 2, potentially future episodes, and the wider MCU.
Marvel’s Loki episode 2, “The Variant,” wastes absolutely no time. And like some of the best Marvel TV efforts, the Easter eggs and references are numerous, but not all of them are obvious. In fact, a lot of them don’t even necessarily pertain to the MCU! Loki is having fun with genre, TV formulas, and the very notions of time travel itself, so looking to the pages of Marvel Comics isn’t quite enough.
Here’s everything we’ve found so far, and if you spot anything we missed, be sure to let us know!
The Renaissance Fair
- The Renaissance Fair takes place on April 12, 1985…in Oshkosh, WI. Why Oshkosh? It could very well be because that’s the place where legendary Marvel writer/editor Mark Gruenwald, the man who is the basis for Agent Mobius, was born!
- Now, anyone have any ideas why that date might be significant…other than it being the opening date of Return of the Living Dead?
- The Renaissance Fair setting of the opening feels like a nod to early Thor and Loki comics, where Stan Lee’s overblown faux-Shakespearean dialogue felt like the kind of fun put-on you would find at a RenFaire.
- The poor Ren Faire actress who is sad to see the TVA in their futuristic garb is played by Kate Berlant. Like fellow Loki actor Eugene Cordero, she comes from a comedy background and you may have seen (or heard) her in Search Party, The Good Place, and BoJack Horseman.
Holding Out for a Hero
Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero” plays during the pre-credits Renaissance Fair sequence. This song is EVERYWHERE at the moment, but its connection to the MCU is at least twofold. There’s this incredible Thor: Ragnarok fan edit that went viral back in 2018, and then there’s the fact that the ’80s banger was originally recorded for the Footloose soundtrack …aka Star-Lord’s favorite film.
Meanwhile…at TVA HQ…
- The TVA’s commitment to outmoded technology is on full display on Mobius’ desk next to that old computer terminal, with an actual hourglass instead of a clock.
- The jacket that says VARIANT is like the PRISONER prominently displayed on the back of orange jumpsuits.
- In the TVA Nexus Event Report we learn that TVA Agents are called Minutemen. Because of course they are.
- There’s a hilariously dystopian poster in the TVA commissary that says “the timeline won’t wait for seconds,” exhorting people not to linger on their lunch breaks.
- Since we found out last week that Casey doesn’t know what a fish is, we can reasonably conclude that Agent Mobius isn’t eating a Caesar salad, the dressing of which is made with anchovies.
- Running off the Josta gag that started in episode 1 (and continues here), where the TVA consumes discontinued food items as well, we have a Boku juice box. Boku was on shelves from about 1990-2003, and was like a juice box for grownups.
- At one point there’s a very visible “372” in the background of the TVA library. Thor #372 featured an early Marvel Comics appearance of the TVA, as well as the origin story of Justice Peace…who we still think Hunter B-15 is based on.
Even the computer terminals at the TVA display readouts in Miss Minutes’ accent. On Loki’s screen you can see “let’s see what ya know!”
Jet Skis, the Universe, and Everything
Loki appears to be reading something called Wake magazine, volume 26, #4. Like many things in the TVA, this appears to be a vintage magazine rather than one being published currently. Probably at the height of the jet ski craze of the early ’90s. We’re reasonably sure this is a fake magazine, but haven’t been able to verify it. Yet.
For the sake of keeping all of these straight, we’re just cataloging the Loki variant numbers for you. Here they are…
- “Our” Loki = L6792
- “Athlete” Loki = L1247 (you know he cheats…and this image seems to be from a familiar photo)
- “Horny” Loki (sorry) = L6795
- “Party” Loki = L8914
- “Warrior” Loki = L7803
- The Lady Loki/Sylvie variant appears to be L1130. More on her down below!
If you’ve got any ideas about the significance of these numbers, please let us know!
- Loki explaining the differences between particular magical abilities feels very much like anyone who has ever played D&D with someone who REALLY knows their stuff and/or is a bit of a “rules lawyer.”
- Loki tells the TVA hunters that “where there are wolf’s ears, wolf’s teeth are near.” At first glance, this is just a charming Loki-ism in which he celebrates how cool and dangerous his Variant is. It also, however, is an homage to the “real” Loki of Norse mythology. That Loki has some latent lupine characteristics to the point that he fathered the giant wolf, Fenrir.
- The FDR High School pen is…probably nothing. The school was established in Brooklyn in 1965, so there’s obviously no chance Steve Rogers went there. We’re trying to figure out if a Loki or Marvel-related creator went to high school there, but so far…no luck.
- Also, is it us, or does the Time-Keeper’s armor in Ravonna’s office look a LOT like a Dr. Doom mask? And speaking of the Time-Keepers, we have some theories about whether or not they even actually exist!
The Destruction of Asgard
Just a few notes from the “destruction of Asgard” paperwork…
- File IPB-ASG-001
- Note the “Revengers” codename mentioned from Thor: Ragnarok
- Asgard’s population was 9,719…not really an Easter egg, just kind of a cool and useless fact.
- Destruction of Asgard was a “class 7 apocalypse” yet the hurricane later in the episode was a “class 10.” More on this in a minute…
Pompeii and Other Apocalypses
- The destruction of Pompeii not only is a horrific historical moment, it’s also the basis for one of the greatest concert films of all time, the moody and bizarre Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii.
- Almost all of the apocalypses Loki and Mobius find between 2047-2051 are climate related. The climate disaster of 2048, extinction of the swallow in 2050, the tsunami of 2051…and of course the fact that the hurricane hitting Alabama in 2050 is a “Category 8.” At the moment, in our real/modern world, hurricane classifications only go up to “5” and 5s are becoming more common. Oh no.
- Originally created by Steve Engleheart and Sal Buscema in a 1974 issue of Captain America, Roxxon (loosely based on Exxon – weird how some folks knew they were evil in the ‘70s) eventually moved beyond its petrochemical roots and became a stand in for all evil corporations in general, which is why they map so neatly onto Amazon here. Roxxon has regularly come into conflict with Thor, most recently when they were headed by actual minotaur Daario Agger in the Thor: God of Thunder–War of the Realms run by Jason Aaron and several incredible artists.
- Hunter B-15 notes that the events in Roxxcart represent a “Class 10 apocalypse.” It’s interesting that the TVA recognizes multiple severities of apocalypses as the apocalypse is supposed to be a singular event: the end of the world. If the Roxxcart hurricane is a “Class 10” then the TVA’s classification system must recognize Class 1 as the most severe, since this is relatively mild as apocalypses go. It’s also worth noting that similar classification systems for tornadoes and hurricanes both go up to only “Category 5”.
- Haven Hills, AL appears to be fictional, but there is a Haven Hills Farms near Mobile, AL, and Mobile certainly would be vulnerable to the kind of storm surge damage that we seem to be seeing in this episode.
Lady Loki…or Sylvie?
A Lady Loki isn’t new or all that surprising, as there is precedent for Loki taking on a woman’s form for at least the last 15 years of comics. But it also…might not be Lady Loki after all.
Sylvie Lushton was a regular human living in Broxton, Oklahoma, until one day shortly after Asgard reappeared over her hometown (following Ragnarok). Long story short, Loki gave her powers just to mess with her.
It’s complicated, so we have much more on who our mysterious variant is here.
The Branching Timeline
These are the places mentioned as the timeline starts to branch. Something tells us we’re going to be visiting most of these places.
- Vormir: the location of the Soul Stone. We saw this teased in the early trailers, as well.
- Asgard: This shouldn’t need any further explanation why this show might bring us there.
- Jotunheim: the realm of the Frost Giants. Might we get an It’s A Wonderful Life style look at a life for Loki that might have been?
- Hala: The Kree homeworld, a place that certainly won’t be getting any LESS significant to the MCU any time soon going forward!
- Xandar: the homeworld/headquarters of the Nova Corps (of Guardians of the Galaxy fame). We’re probably due to eventually get more Nova stuff in the MCU down the line, so perhaps we’ll get a glimpse of that here.
- Ego: Kurt Russell, cosmic deadbeat dad extraordinaire, from Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2.
- Titan: The homeworld of the dreaded Thanos. uh-oh…
Miscellanous Time Fragments
- Mobius refers to Loki as an “ice runt” during his “scared little boy, shivering in the cold” speech. It feels pretty rare that we get direct references to Loki’s frost giant roots in the MCU these days. Based on the Jotunheim reference above, there’s probably more coming, though…
- The woman that Loki has to deal with in charge of the file room desk feels like a live-action Roz from Monsters Inc., which is a super fun touch.
- The beginning of Loki and Sylvie’s face-off reminds us of the Kermit the Frog vs. Hooded Kermit the Frog meme, and that’s just a treat.
- Before they deploy to Alabama, Mobius hands Loki his trusty twin daggers…which are promptly confiscated again.
- The locker room number where Mobius’ locker is #26. 2/6 as in Number 2 and Number 6 from The Prisoner?
Spot anything we missed? Let us know in the comments!