Loki has been through a lot.
As the first major supervillain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we saw him at his most evil in The Avengers, but Loki is a lot more complex than your typical comic book bad guy. Since then, he’s been the comedic relief (Thor: Ragnarok), the leader of Asgard in disguise (also Ragnarok), killed by Thanos (Avengers: Infinity War), and revived thanks to time travel (Avengers: Endgame). Now, Marvel’s god of mischief is getting his own spinoff on Disney+.
But Loki’s most exciting adventures have never made it to the screen. They’re not even comic book canon. He has a whole other life in the world of Marvel fanfiction, where his unpredictable personality gels perfectly with the wide-ranging genre where literally nothing is off the table.
Just ask 21-year-old Marvel fan Sesil, who’s written fanfiction under the name Rabentochter for almost a decade. “Loki's incredibly ambiguous in all that he says or does,” Sesil, who requested to only go by her first name, tells Inverse. “He is a typical anti-hero who has his flaws, but also tries to do good. It leaves thousands of possibilities of what you can do with him in fanfic.”
“It leaves thousands of possibilities of what you can do with him in fanfic.”
There are all sorts of genres of Loki fanfiction on Archive of Our Own. The Wild West of fanfic contains millions of fan works of all genres with an “anything goes” attitude. If you’re looking for unofficial stories about anything from the WWE to My Little Pony, it’s here, along with pretty much any other fandom you can think of. In 2019, Archive of Our Own won a collective Hugo Award for Best Related Work.
Amid this chaos, it’s no surprise that Loki is thriving. Archive of Our Own features stories in which the Norse god competes in the Hunger Games, turns into a cat, and even clashes with other mythology systems. And when it comes to the art of “shipping” — posing two characters as love interests — look no further than FrostIron, the internet’s chosen couple name of Loki and Tony Stark. (If you thought, “I have an army,” “We have a Hulk,” was charged with romantic tension, this is the ship for you.)
Recent entries in the MCU like WandaVision and Thor: Ragnarok demonstrate how elastic this universe can be, but fans have been pushing Marvel far beyond its limits for years thanks to the foundational building blocks of this superhero universe.
“The characters themselves all embody something or have had experiences that people can relate with,” Sesil says. “There's certainly a lot everyone can explore with a character of their choice that's relatable for them but also works within the MCU.”
We already Loki will take some fanfiction-esque turns itself with speculation of alter egos like Lady Loki, kid Loki, and old Loki. Add that to the interference of the Time Variance Authority and Loki is practically a fan work itself. So to prepare yourself for Tom Hiddleston’s time-travel adventures in just a few weeks, here are five great pieces of Loki fanfic worth checking it, whether you’re looking for a steamy short story or a book-length epic.
5. “And Then Redemption”
Spider-Man and Loki never got to meet in the MCU, so this fic by “softlyblue” imagines what it would be like if Loki showed up next to Peter Parker one night and just started talking. Needless to say, Ned, Aunt May, and Tony Stark all have thoughts on the matter, but Peter is determined to make Loki’s redemption arc happen, even if Loki is going to be a wise-cracking smart-aleck throughout the process. Just read this passage depicting Peter and Ned discussing the visitor.
"He gave me peanuts and told me he wasn't dead? I think he's lonely."
"I said what I said."
Ned scoffs. "He's the god of mischief."
"Yeah, so he probably doesn't have any friends."
There’s not much to the plot, but in fanfiction there doesn’t need to be. Just like in Marvel’s movies, sometimes the best parts of fanfic are just two familiar characters hanging out, eating snacks, and talking about life. “And Then Redemption” is also a breezy read, making it the perfect starting point for fanfic beginners.
If you’re here for Loki-Iron Man romance and have a lot of time to spare, this is the fanfic for you. At 268,000 words, “If You Had This Time Again” by “dls” is about the same length as Moby Dick, but it’s well worth it if you’re looking forward to Loki. The story uses time travel to bring us back to Tony and the Avengers eating shawarma and then fills in gaps between films from there, all with a gorgeous love story between Iron Man and Loki. Just read this passage, the culmination of chapters of flirting.
"I wasn't trying to woo you." Tony wrinkled his nose both at the archaic term and to take the sting out of his words. "But I wasn't not trying either."
"Would you try?" Loki’s gaze glittered with hope and want as it slid over Tony slowly.
Loki's breath stirred Tony's skin, a puff of warmth mixing with the general heat of Loki's body tempting him closer. Tony returned the stare, his whole body buzzing as it grew heavier and hazier. He licked his lips and found Loki tracking the movement. "No."
"I wouldn't try, I'd succeed." With that, Tony surged forward and pressed his mouth against Loki's in a muted apology for his horrible wording and awkward timing. His hands tugged at Loki's armor, closing the remaining inches between them.
For a moment, Loki did nothing.
Then he did everything at once.
There’s nothing like a well-earned, mutual pining, slow-burn romance. It’s something unique to fanfiction, the promise of something happening eventually that keeps you hitting “Next Chapter” until you look up and realize it’s 3 am. Though the storyline diverges after The Avengers, there are all sorts of continuing elements like characters from Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, and Avengers: Infinity War, making this story the ultimate MCU companion.
I don’t know if it’s the Britishness or the magic, but people love bringing Loki into the Harry Potter universe. No other fic does it quite like this one by “Enigmaris,” which has a very simple premise: James Potter was Loki in disguise all along; Harry finds out and decides he’s going to punch him. There’s lots of cameos of both Avengers and wizards, and, of course, lots of angst. Here’s what the first encounter (and titular punch) between Loki and Harry is like.
“Harry?” The voice was quiet, almost hushed.
“So glad to know you recognize me.”
“No…You’re…You can’t be…”
Loki looked like he was about to cry. For some reason it made Harry irrationally angry. What right did this man have to cry? He wasn’t the one who’d been orphaned and abused. He wasn’t the one who’d had to fight Voldemort, the one who had a prophecy over his head. Before he quite realized what he was doing, he was walking forward. His fist formed the shape Ginny had carefully taught him, with the thumb out.
After the punch, there’s another 200,000 words of hijinks and a rich plot involving Loki, the Marauders, and Voldemort. It’s a classic crossover fic, with sprawling chapters covering all intersections of the two worlds. What happens when Loki returns to Hogwarts to teach? How are Ron, Harry, and Hermione treated among the Asgardians? All the best Hogwarts mainstays combine with Marvel characters in this saga.
It’s rare you find a shipping fic that covers all the classic fanfiction tropes. One glance at the tags and it’s obvious this story by “STARSdidathing” is a contender. It’s got enemies-to-friends, then enemies-to-friends-to-lovers, mutual pining, a fake dating scenario, an oblivious Tony Stark that Loki refers to as “Anthony,” and so many emotional conversations.
Loki loved seldom and he loved deeply. Loki knew that Anthony Stark would remain in his heart for as long as he lived, he just needed to prove that to Anthony and to allow the man to fall for him in return - and Loki now had his chance; after months of waiting, worrying and healing the man, Anthony was finally his to court.
It made Loki smile, it made him laugh with pure happiness as he appeared in his apartment and let everything he had been burying in Anthony’s presence escape in a bright beaming grin.
Finally, my dear, I can love and care for you the way that you deserve.
And if Anthony wanted flowers and parades, then Loki would happily provide them.
That passage is near the end of this work, and at 25,000 words, it’s the perfect novella-length reading to dive into for a few hours. It’s also a prime example of what’s known in the fan fiction as “fluff,” just two characters being cute together and letting their relationship drive the plot.
Sesil (aka, “Rabentochter”), the author of this piece, was inspired by a gifset and used it as a way to create her own version of what the Loki spinoff show would be like — then she added Tony. She describes it as “Very chaotic, totally an enemies-to-lovers fanfiction because I decided I'll put Tony Stark into it as well so that it's more chaotic. Features coffee, Loki's magic, and time travel.” If you’re studying up on fanfiction in preparation for Loki, this is where you want to start.
“You have been brought before this court because of meddling with the time—in the past, and in the future, in a different timeline which has caused a major disruption in the flow of time with the help of the Infinity Stones.”
“Beg your pardon,” Loki interrupted, “we are being sentenced because of future meddling in the time?”
“Indeed,” Renslayer confirmed, “a reason why you were able to escape in the first place from the Avengers, Variant L1130. The Avengers will have travelled back in time, the TVA believes you have seen that particular event unfold?”
“Wait, I will have meddled with the time?” Tony interrupted. “I can’t, I told Fury I don’t want to join his super-secret-boyband.”
There are alternate histories, characters we’ll see more of in just a few weeks, and lots of Loki and Tony quips and banter as they’re sent through time as freelancers of the Time Variance Authority, doing everything from infiltrating Roxxcart to committing murder. This is speculative fiction about science fiction, and it’s more than just fanfic — it’s a great story in and of itself.
Loki premieres on Disney+ June 9th.