The God of Mischief met his end during the opening of 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. Killed by Thanos (Josh Brolin) right in front of his brother, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Loki’s death scene had a finality to it that is hard to come by in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It felt so final, in fact, that not even Tom Hiddleston expected to ever return as the character. But return he has.
Marvel’s Loki follows a variant of the God of Mischief that escaped with the Tesseract during the time heist in Avengers: Endgame, and it’s placed a focus on the character that no other MCU title has before. And in a surprising move, the latest installment of the Disney+ series just opened the door for Loki’s Infinity War death to be retroactively rewritten.
Classic Loki’s Greatest Trick — Loki Episode 5 sees Tom Hiddleston’s trickster running into more Loki variants than he ever has before. Among the episode’s many, many Loki variants is one known simply as Classic Loki, played by Richard E. Grant. Older than any of the other Loki variants, Loki Episode 5 reveals that Grant’s Classic Loki actually managed to survive his predetermined death at the hands of Thanos.
“I cast a projection of myself so real even the Mad Titan believed it, then hid as inanimate debris,” says Classic Loki. “After I faked my death, I simply drifted in space. Away from Thor, away from everything.”
It’s a surprising admission — one that succinctly explains how Classic Loki managed to grow older than any of the other variants we’ve seen. Notably, it also presents a chance for Marvel to reveal that Loki’s death in Infinity War was faked.
A Path Towards Survival — Despite the brutality of the scene, many Marvel fans questioned the legitimacy of Loki’s death in Infinity War after it was released. The character’s talent at tricking even the smartest of his foes led many to believe that he might have faked his death — the Loki whose neck gets broken by Thanos may have been nothing more than an illusion.
In a lot of ways, Classic Loki’s tale of survival feels like a direct acknowledgment of those very fan theories. However, the importance of the scene itself may extend beyond that, since the version of Loki that Tom Hiddleston (primarily) plays in the Disney+ series, the same one who hears how Classic Loki survived Thanos’ attack, hasn’t been killed by the Mad Titan yet.
Therefore, if the Hiddleston variant were to be returned to his proper timeline and stay there until Thanos’ attack in Infinity War, it’s possible he could employ the same trickery used by Grant’s Classic Loki to save himself from death. That’d require him to work on his illusory magic a bit more, but the end of Loki Episode 5 hinted that may already be happening anyway.
The Inverse Analysis — All this depends, of course, on whether or not Hiddleston’s Loki variant does actually return to his proper timeline at the end of Loki’s first season. Now, if he and Sophia Di Martino’s Sylvie are successful in bringing the TVA down, he may not have to return, which could complicate things a bit. But whether he returns to his original timeline or frees the universe from the TVA’s grasp, there’s room for Loki’s time in the prime MCU reality to stretch beyond his death in Infinity War.
That’s not totally surprising either. After all, if WandaVision can bring Vision back from his Infinity War death, there’s no reason to believe Loki can’t do the same for the God of Mischief.
Loki is streaming now on Disney+.