If you made it through all of Loki episode 4‘s credits—and if you didn’t, let’s chat about the proper way to watch a Marvel show—then you know what got fans in a tizzy in late June: a bombshell mid-credits scene that revealed more about the franchise’s future than any of the preceding 45 minutes. Marvel loves these teases almost as much as it loves Spider-Man reboots. But this particular mid-credits scene gifted fans with not one but three new cameos—including an eyebrow-raising appearance by Gosford Park actor Richard E. Grant.
The final seconds of “The Nexus Event” confirmed what we had already guessed: Loki, though “pruned” by the Time Variance Authority, was still alive. Although banished from the TVA’s headquarters to a realm known as “The Void,” Loki’s body and mind remained intact. “Pruning,” it seems, is not so much a death sentence as a teleportation device. When he awakens in this apocalptic reality, he is met by three familiar faces, each vaguely reminiscent of his own.
In episode 5, “Journey Into Mystery,” we finally get to know these fellow Lokis. The one in the middle is the easiest to identify: A teenager with floppy black hair and a horned sigil adorning his chest and forehead, this is Kid Loki (sometimes known as Teen Loki and played by Jack Veal in the show), a younger version of the “real” Loki and an iteration who, in the comics, joins the Young Avengers.
To his left, we learn, is Boastful Loki (Deobia Oparei), reminiscent of Thor but with a golden hammer and a more stoic demeanor compared to Chris Hemsworth’s affable God of Thunder.
Then, of course, we have Alligator Loki, whose existence mostly serves as a running gag throughout the fifth episode.
Finally, there’s Richard E. Grant’s character on the right. Draped in the iconic original Loki garb from the earliest comics, this aging variant is decked out in canary yellow and forest green, his long, scowling face perhaps only matched by the length of his gleaming horns.
This ensemble of Loki variants, all in one place, is quite possibly a step toward the much-hyped multiverse Marvel has been assembling since the Avengers: Endgame credits went black. There are rumors that Tom Holland’s next Spider-Man film, Spider-Man: No Way Home, could feature multiple actors from reboots past, including Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, but Loki—and “The Nexus Event” in particular—is our first confirmation that several versions of our heroes (and villains) can co-exist in one space.
Grant’s character, in particular, has a fascinating arc over the course of “Journey Into Mystery.” Given his designation as “Classic Loki,” dressed in the Jack Kirby-era costuming, many fans (including myself) initially believed this Loki variant would be an irredeemable king in a yellow cape. The “Classic Loki” of the comics, after all, was much more Joker than jester, a tyrant rather than a lost and suffering child. His relationship with Thor was not one of distant brotherly love but fiery hatred. Grant’s irritable frown at the end of “The Nexus Event” led many to assume he wouldn’t appreciate his younger counterparts’ wisecracks and quips. He’d be solemn and selfish and a bitter bore. In reality, Grant’s Loki ends up the most empathetic.
After attempting to convince Hiddleston-Loki that escaping The Void is futile, he and the other variants retreat to a safehouse, where each reveals a bit of their history. Unlike the many Lokis who attempted to conquer Asgard (and/or the universe), Classic Loki realized his own capacity for failure early on. When Thanos attacked his ship, he faked his own death by transforming into “inanimate debris” within which he floated throughout space. With so much time for interior dialogue, he had an epiphany: “Everywhere I went, only pain followed.”
In response, he retreated to a solitary life on a planet far from other lifeforms, where he grew old over the course of eons. But like all other Lokis, his relationship with Thor eventually got the best of him. When he grew lonely—“To tell you the truth, I missed my brother”—Classic Loki came out of hiding, only to fall directly into the hands of the TVA.
Certainly the most tragic of the variants, Grant’s Loki also proves the most valiant. At the end of “Journey Into Mystery,” he ends up sacrificing himself to the dark cloud monster Alioth, who’s slowly consuming the mangled fragments of The Void. By distracting the great beast with his illusion magic—and creating an evanescent Asgard in the process—Classic Loki allows Hiddleston-Loki and Sylvie the time to connect with the horror using their own enchantment powers. As they spark a synergy, Alioth turns to devour Grant, who cackles at the final realization of his “glorious purpose.” It’s a retrofitted villain laugh—the crazed laugh of the redeemed, not the maniacal.
When Alioth charges over him, flooding the screen with shadow, only Classic Loki’s horned helm remains in the dirt.
The question must be asked: Is there any chance Grant’s character is still alive? If Kid Loki, Boastful Loki and Alligator Loki are still out there in The Void, might Classic Loki have stood a chance against the living nightmare? It’s certainly possible. Maybe even likely.
Remember what Grant’s Loki said earlier in the episode: “Lokis survive; that’s just what we do.” That sure smells of foreshadowing, and we already know Classic Loki commands powerful illusion magic. Perhaps the body gulped up by Alioth was another of the trickster god’s projections, a counterpart to the fake Asgard. And if that’s the case, he and the other Loki variants could pop up again in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Death rarely lasts long in the superhero genre. That’s good news for Grant fans—this could be far from the end.
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