Loki (Marvel Cinematic Universe)

Loki Laufeyson, also known as Loki Odinson, is a character portrayed by Tom Hiddleston in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film franchise, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. In the films, Loki is known as the "God of Mischief" and is one of the most powerful of the Asgardians, an alien civilization with long ties to Earth, who are therefore considered on Earth to be gods.
, the character is an important recurring figure of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He has appeared in six films of the series, Thor, The Avengers, ', ', ', and ', and will appear in Loki, a stand-alone Disney+ television series focused on the character, and in What If...?, an animated anthology TV series. Loki's character has borrowed a number of characteristics and storylines from across the more than fifty-year history of the character in Marvel Comics. As in the comics, Loki has generally been a villain in the MCU, variously attempting to conquer Asgard or Earth, and having allied himself with more powerful villains to achieve his aims. He has particular antagonism for his adoptive brother Thor, and is known to variously ally with and then betray Thor and others, and to regularly return from apparent death. Later on in his development in the films, he becomes less of a supervillain and more of an antihero.

Concept and creation

The mythical figure, Loki, actually preceded Thor in making his first Marvel Comics appearance, depicted in the science fiction/fantasy anthology title Timely Comics' publication Venus No. 6 as a member of the Olympian gods exiled to the Underworld. However, the current version of Loki made his first official Marvel appearance was in Journey into Mystery No. 85, where Loki was reintroduced as Thor's sworn enemy. The modern age Loki was introduced by brothers and co-writers Stan Lee and Larry Lieber and he was redesigned by Jack Kirby. As one of Thor's arch-nemeses, Loki frequently made appearances in Thor-related titles like Journey into Mystery and Thor, as well as other Marvel Universe titles such as The Avengers and X-Men. As well as brief appearances in the Spider-Man and Defenders comic series.
Live-action film adaptations of character in the Thor comic books were proposed at various times, but did not come to fruition. In the mid-2000s, Kevin Feige realized that Marvel still owned the rights to the core members of the Avengers, which included Thor. Feige, a self-professed "fanboy", envisioned creating a shared universe just as creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had done with their comic books in the early 1960s. In 2006, the film was announced as a Marvel Studios production. In December 2007, Protosevich described his plans for it "to be like a superhero origin story, but not one about a human gaining super powers, but of a god realizing his true potential. It's the story of an Old Testament god who becomes a New Testament god". In 2008, Guillermo del Toro entered talks to direct the film. Del Toro was a fan of Jack Kirby's work on the comics, and said that he loved the character of Loki, but wished to incorporate more of the original Norse mythology into the film, including a "really dingy Valhalla, Vikings and mud". However, del Toro ultimately turned down Thor to direct The Hobbit. Kenneth Branagh entered into negotiations to direct, and by December 2008, Branagh confirmed that he had been hired. He described it as "a human story right in the center of a big epic scenario."
Several actors were reportedly considered for the part, including Josh Hartnett, and Jim Carrey. In May 2009, Marvel announced that Tom Hiddleston, who had worked with Branagh before and had initially been considered to portray the lead role, had been cast as Loki. In June 2009, Feige confirmed that both Chris Hemsworth and Hiddleston had signed on.


Tom Hiddleston stated that "Loki's like a comic book version of Edmund in King Lear, but nastier". Hiddleston stated that he had to keep a strict diet before the start of filming because director Kenneth Branagh "wants Loki to have a lean and hungry look, like Cassius in Julius Caesar. Physically, he can't be posing as Thor". Hiddleston also looked at Peter O'Toole as inspiration for Loki, explaining, "Interestingly enough, said to look at Peter O'Toole in two specific films, The Lion in Winter and Lawrence of Arabia. What's interesting about... his performance is you see how damaged he is. There's a rawness ; it's almost as if he's living with a layer of skin peeled away. He's grandiose and teary and, in a moment, by turns hilarious and then terrifying. What we wanted was that emotional volatility. It's a different acting style, it's not quite the same thing, but it's fascinating to go back and watch an actor as great as O'Toole head for those great high hills". Ted Allpress portrays a young Loki.
About his character's evolution from Thor to The Avengers, Hiddleston said, "I think the Loki we see in The Avengers is further advanced. You have to ask yourself the question: How pleasant an experience is it disappearing into a wormhole that has been created by some kind of super nuclear explosion of his own making? So I think by the time Loki shows up in The Avengers, he's seen a few things." About Loki's motivations, Hiddleston said, "At the beginning of The Avengers, he comes to Earth to subjugate it and his idea is to rule the human race as their king. And like all the delusional autocrats of human history, he thinks this is a great idea because if everyone is busy worshipping him, there will be no wars so he will create some kind of world peace by ruling them as a tyrant. But he is also kind of deluded in the fact that he thinks unlimited power will give him self-respect, so I haven't let go of the fact that he is still motivated by this terrible jealousy and kind of spiritual desolation." Hiddleston also filmed scenes for ', but his scenes were omitted from the theatrical cut because director Joss Whedon didn't want the movie to feel "overstuffed".
In Thor: The Dark World, Loki forms an uneasy alliance with Thor against the Dark Elves. On where he wished to take the character in the film, Hiddleston said, "I'd like to take to his absolute rock bottom. I'd like to see him yield, essentially, to his darkest instincts. Then, having hit rock bottom, maybe come back up. I think the fascination for me about playing Loki is that, in the history of the mythology and the comic books and the Scandinavian myths, is he's constantly dancing on this fault line of the dark side and redemption." Hiddleston recalled, "When I met Alan , he asked me how I thought I could do Loki again without repeating myself and I remembered talking with Kevin Feige when we were on the Avengers promotional tour. I said, 'OK, you've seen Thor and Loki be antagonistic for two films now. It would be amazing to see them fight side by side. I've been the bad guy now twice, so I can't be again, or otherwise I shouldn't be in the film. So we have to find a new role for me to play."
Hiddleston was interested in how Loki's attitude has changed by the events of Thor: Ragnarok, saying, "he is always a trickster. It is trying to find new ways for him to be mischievous". As the ruler of Asgard since the end of
', Hiddleston notes that "Loki has devoted most of his efforts to narcissistic self-glorification. Not so much on good governance." He also added that "the idea that Thor might be indifferent to Loki is troubling for him... it's an interesting development".
With respect to Loki's death at the beginning of Infinity War, Hiddleston expressed the opinion that "it's very powerful he calls himself an Odinson, and that closes the whole journey of Loki and what he can do", also noting that Loki's death demonstrates how powerful Thanos is, setting the stage for the fight against him.

Appearance and special effects

Hiddleston has noted that his transformation into Loki has required dying his naturally blond hair and making his naturally ruddy skin appear very pale, stating:
Loki's costume in Thor, designed by Marvel's head of visual development Charlie Wen, adapted elements from the comics while adding elements to give it a futuristic feel, reflecting the treatment of magic in the Thor films as merely highly advanced technology. Like other representations of Asgard, particularly including the costumes of Thor and Odin, it also referenced Norse symbols. Wen stated that he "designed Loki's armor to be more overtly ceremonial than practical", in keeping with the character being more focused on scheming for power than engaging in battle.
Hiddleston described the horns worn as part of his Loki costume as weighing about 30 pounds, resulting in one instance during the filming of The Avengers where he asked co-star Chris Hemsworth to really punch him in the face, because the weight of the horns made it difficult to fake being hit.

Fictional character biography

Origins and first betrayal of Asgard

Loki was born a Frost Giant, and abandoned as an infant by his father Laufey, only to be found by Odin during an invasion of the realm of the Frost Giants. Odin uses magic to make Loki appear Asgardian, and raises him as a son alongside Odin's biological son, Thor. During his upbringing, Odin's wife Frigga teaches Loki to use magic and illusion.
Hundreds of years later, Loki watches as Thor prepares to ascend to the throne of Asgard. This is interrupted by frost giants attempting to retrieve an artifact captured by Odin in a war centuries before. Loki manipulates Thor into traveling to Jotunheim against Odin's order, to confront Frost Giant leader Laufey, accompanied by Loki and several of Thor's fellow warriors. A battle ensues until Odin intervenes to save the Asgardians, destroying the fragile truce between the two races. Loki discovers that he is Laufey's biological son, adopted by Odin after the war ended. After Odin exiles Thor to Earth, Loki confronts Odin about his parentage, and a weary Odin falls into the deep "Odinsleep" to recover his strength. Loki takes the throne in Odin's stead and offers Laufey the chance to kill Odin and retrieve the Casket. Sif and the Warriors Three, unhappy with Loki's rule, attempt to return Thor from exile, convincing Heimdall, gatekeeper of the Bifröst—the means of traveling between worlds—to allow them passage to Earth. Aware of their plan, Loki sends the Destroyer, a seemingly indestructible automaton, to pursue them and kill Thor, but Thor regains his powers and defeats the Destroyer. Thor leaves with his fellow Asgardians to confront Loki.
In Asgard, Loki betrays and kills Laufey, revealing his true plan to use Laufey's attempt on Odin's life as an excuse to destroy Jotunheim with the Bifröst Bridge, thus proving himself worthy to his adoptive father. Thor arrives and fights Loki before destroying the Bifröst Bridge to stop Loki's plan, stranding himself in Asgard. Odin awakens and prevents the brothers from falling into the abyss created in the wake of the bridge's destruction, but Loki apparently commits suicide by allowing himself to fall when Odin rejects his pleas for approval.
In space, Loki encounters the Other, the leader of an extraterrestrial race known as the Chitauri. In exchange for retrieving the Tesseract, a powerful energy source of unknown potential, the Other promises Loki an army with which he can subjugate Earth. Later, Erik Selvig is taken to a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, where Nick Fury opens a briefcase and asks him to study a mysterious cube, which Nick Fury says may hold untold power. Loki, invisible, prompts Selvig to agree, and he does.

Attacking Earth

Loki attacks a remote S.H.I.E.L.D. research facility, using his scepter to enslave the mind of Clint Barton and steals the Tesseract. In Stuttgart, Barton steals iridium needed to stabilize the Tesseract's power while Loki causes a distraction, leading to a brief confrontation with Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, and Natasha Romanoff that ends with Loki's surrender. While Loki is being escorted to S.H.I.E.L.D., Thor arrives and frees him, hoping to convince him to abandon his plan and return to Asgard. After a confrontation with Stark and Rogers, Thor agrees to take Loki to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s flying aircraft carrier, the Helicarrier. Upon arrival, Loki is imprisoned while Banner and Stark attempt to locate the Tesseract.
Agents possessed by Loki attack the Helicarrier, disabling one of its engines in flight and causing Bruce Banner to transform into the Hulk. Thor attempts to stop the Hulk's rampage, and Loki kills Agent Coulson and ejects Thor from the airship as he escapes. Stark and Rogers realize that for Loki, simply defeating them will not be enough; he needs to overpower them publicly to validate himself as ruler of Earth. Loki uses the Tesseract, in conjunction with a device Selvig built, to open a wormhole above Stark Tower in New York City to the Chitauri fleet in space, launching his invasion. The Avengers arrive and rally in defense of the city. As the Chitauri are defeated, the Hulk attacks Loki and beats him into submission. Thor returns Loki and the Tesseract to Asgard.

Battle with the Dark Elves

led by Malekith attack Asgard, searching for Jane Foster, whose body has been invaded by an unearthly force known as the Aether. Malekith and his monstrous lieutenant Kurse kill Loki's adoptive mother Frigga, who had taught Loki magic. Thor reluctantly frees Loki, who agrees to take Thor to a secret portal to Svartalfheim, home of the dark elves, in return for Thor's promise to take vengeance for their mother.
In Svartalfheim, Loki appears to betray Thor, in fact tricking Malekith into drawing the Aether out of Jane, but Thor's attempt to destroy the exposed substance fails. Malekith merges with the Aether and leaves in his ship as Loki appears to be fatally wounded saving Thor from Kurse, whom Loki was able to kill through trickery. Thor ultimately defeats Malekith in a battle in Greenwich, and returns to Asgard to decline Odin's offer to take the throne, and tells Odin of Loki's sacrifice. After Thor leaves, it is shown that Loki has actually survived and taken Odin's place on the throne, disguised as Odin.

Destruction of Asgard and battle with Thanos

Several years later, Loki continues to rule Asgard disguised as Odin, having kept the real Odin under a spell in a nursing home in New York City. Thor returns to Asgard and discovers this ruse. He takes Loki to New York, and with the help of Stephen Strange, they find a dying Odin in Norway, who explains that his passing will allow his firstborn child, Hela, to escape from a prison she was sealed in long ago. She appears, destroying Mjölnir, and forces the escaping Thor and Loki from the Bifröst out into space.
Loki lands on the planet Sakaar, and quickly ingratiates himself to the ruler of that world, the Grandmaster. Thor later crash-lands on the planet, and is captured by the slave trader Valkyrie, a former member of the ancient order of Valkyries defeated by Hela. After convincing Valkyrie and Loki to help, they steal a ship with which to escape through a wormhole to Asgard – but not before Loki again attempts to betray his brother, causing Thor to leave Loki behind on Sakaar. In the midst of a battle with Hela's forces, Loki returns aboard a large vessel stolen from the Grandmaster, helping Asgard's citizens to escape the battle between Thor and Hela's forces, and proclaiming himself their savior. Loki helps defeat Hela by rushing to Odin's treasure room and placing the crown of Surtur in the eternal flame kept there, thus causing an enormous form of Surtur to appear and destroy Asgard, which is Hela's source of power. Thor, crowned king, decides to take his people to Earth despite Loki's concerns about how he will be received there, but they are intercepted by a large spacecraft carrying Thanos.
Thanos, wielding the Power Stone after an assault on Xandar, overpowers Thor and Hulk, and claims the Space Stone from the Tesseract, which Loki had stolen just before Asgard's destruction. In a last act of self-sacrifice, Loki pretends to swear allegiance to Thanos, only to attempt a futile attack, after which Thanos chokes Loki to death.

Alternative timeline

Thanos eventually obtains all the Infinity Stones and snaps his fingers and destroys half the population of the universe. Five years later, the remaining Avengers figure out how to travel back in time to obtain the Infinity Stones before Thanos does to undo the snap, leading several of them to return to the Battle of New York. The plans of the time-travelling Avengers go awry, however, allowing the now-captured past version of Loki to get hold of the Space Stone and escape, forming a new timeline where Loki is again alive.


The character of Loki "has been a fan favorite ever since his central role in 2012's The Avengers", becoming "one of the MCU's most beloved characters". Hiddleston has received a number of nominations and awards for his performance of the character.
2011ThorScream AwardsScream Award for Breakout Performance – Male
2012ThorEmpire AwardsBest Male Newcomer
2012ThorSaturn AwardsBest Supporting Actor
2012The AvengersTeen Choice AwardsChoice Movie: Villain
2013The AvengersKids' Choice AwardsFavorite Villain
2013The AvengersMTV Movie AwardsBest Villain
2014'Empire AwardsEmpire Award for Best Supporting Actor
2014'Saturn AwardsSaturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
2018Teen Choice AwardsTeen Choice Award for Choice Movie Scene Stealer