What the Loki Variant Means For the Future of the MCU
The following post contains SPOILERS for Episode 2 of Loki. We put this warning on almost every Marvel post, even at times when the spoilers are super minor and we’re just being super careful and nice. Not this time! This is a legit spoiler! You have been warned.
So you know how everyone freaked out a few weeks ago when a trailer revealed Loki’s gender was listed as “fluid” on a TVA form? That was actually a clue to where the series was going. In Episode 2 of Loki, the variant of Loki who’s been meddling with the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “sacred” timeline turns out to be a female version of Loki, played by Sophia Di Martino.
While Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is shocked to discover Di Marino’s Loki (this is going to get very confusing, isn’t it?), Marvel Comics readers were a lot less surprised. That’s because Lady Loki wasn’t created for this Disney+ show; she’s appeared in Thor comics — along with other Marvel series — for several years.
The most famous Lady Loki was introduced during a storyline from the mid-2000s. A few years before that, Thor and the Asgardians died in a variation of Ragnarok, the prophesied end of the gods from Norse mythology. For a brief period, all the Asgardians were “dead” in the Marvel Universe. They returned in a new Thor series written by J. Michael Straczynski, who’s best known as the creator of Babylon 5 and the co-creator of Sense8 with the Wachowskis. After Thor was resurrected by Donald Blake, his old human alter ego from the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby Thor comics, he set to work rebuilding Asgard in the sky over a small town in Oklahoma.
Then he went looking for the lost Asgardians. When he discovered Loki, he found she has been reborn as a woman:
This Loki remained the primary version of the character in Marvel Comics for several years. That included a period where she impersonated the Scarlet Witch, and used this fake Wanda to manipulate a new group of Avengers — a fun nod to the fact that the very first Avengers team from Marvel Comics by Lee and Kirby were brought together as part of a plot by Loki.
Lady Loki’s time in the Marvel Comics Universe coincided with a storyline called “Dark Reign,” where Norman Osborn — AKA the Spider-Man villain Green Goblin — manipulated his way into the position of director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Among the various schemes he used during this period to amass and wield power was the creation of a group called “The Cabal,” a secret organization of Marvel super-villains who would work together to further their own nefarious ends. In addition to Osborn, the group’s roster included Doctor Doom, Emma Frost, Namor, The Hood, and the female Loki.
The story of Loki’s Lady Loki could be a little more complicated, though. If you watch the endless closing credits for the show on Disney+, you’ll see that the dubbed version of the character from international edits appears to be credited as “Sylvie” — which is also the real name of a different Marvel character known as the Enchantress.
The original Enchantress of Thor comics is a sorceress named Amora, an Asgardian with a love/hate relationship with the God of Thunder. The Sylvie Lushton Enchantress was introduced during the same “Dark Reign” period of Marvel as Lady Loki. In a miniseries called Dark Reign: Young Avengers, a new Enchantress shows up with her own assortment of magical powers. Although she presents herself as a hero who wants to join the Young Avengers (a team of teen heroes who model themselves after various members of the original Avengers), it’s revealed in issue #4 of the series that Sylvie was actually given her powers by Loki.
Comics’ Sylvie was a younger character than the one played in this episode by Sophia Di Martino, who’s 37 years old and about two years younger than Tom Hiddleston. This still could be a version of Sylvie who was given powers by Loki as a young woman and then killed him and took his place. While that seems unlikely, it would explain why she tells Hiddleston’s Loki not to call her Loki during their conversation at the end of the episode.
The “Sylvie” in the credits could also be a typo or a deliberate misdirection on the part of someone at Marvel to obscure exactly what version of the character this is. Remember: When Evan Peters showed up as Quicksilver in WandaVision, people initially thought it meant he had jumped from the Fox X-Men movie universe, which was then going to merge with the MCU. The truth was a lot more simple, and a little less exciting. (He turned out to be a guy who happened to look a little like the MCU’s Quicksilver.) Plus, the TVA is supposedly chasing a variant of Loki. Strictly speaking, Sylvie Lushton isn’t a Loki variant; she’s the Enchantress. Which is a different character.
There’s another reason to think that Di Martino’s character is really a version of Loki himself (or herself) and not some other character dressed in his clothes. Tom Hiddleston belongs to the first era of Marvel movies, and some of those films’ stars — including Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans — have already begun retiring from the MCU, replaced by new characters (and actors with smaller salary demands). If Hiddleston is ready to quit Loki after 10 years of films and series, Di Martino can assume the role more permanently — at least until a new “variant” of Loki appears to take her place. The nice part about immortal shape-changing space gods is there’s no limit to the number of people who can play them.