'Loki' Timeline Explained: How The Disney+ Show Merges Two Different Points of MCU History

With Tom Hiddleston returning as Loki on Disney+ this week, it's time for a quick refresher to explain how the God of Mischief bagged himself a new television series.

It's the streaming giant's third Marvel Cinematic Universe TV show, after Wandavision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, but Loki could be the most ambitious show yet.

The likes of Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Richard E. Grant are joining the cast for what is Hiddleston's first time playing the lead in an MCU vehicle.

Which Loki appears in the new Disney+ series?

Loki might be more villainous than you remember. That's because the character we meet at the start of the new series, came directly from the events of The Avengers in 2012.

This means that our Loki is alive. In 2019's Avengers: Infinity War he was unceremoniously killed by Thanos in the first act of the movie, leaving Hiddleston fans devastated.

The trickster god was given a second lease of life thanks to the events of Avengers: Endgame. When Tony Stark and the Avengers attempted their time heist, traveling back to 2012 to try and retrieve the Space Stone, otherwise known as the Tesseract, it worked out perfectly for Loki. When everyone was distracted, prisoner Loki seized his opportunity, grabbed the Tesseract and teleported into space.

So the redemption arcs the character experienced in Thor: The Dark World, Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War didn't happen to our Loki. The Asgardian we meet is the same one who was the big baddy of the first MCU team-up film, who was soundly defeated by the Avengers.

The implication is that Loki has never met a lot of the heroes and villains we've seen since 2012. He hasn't crossed paths with Ant-Man, Black Panther, the Guardians of The Galaxy, Falcon, the Winter Soldier, Wanda Maximoff or Spider-Man, to name just a few.

Where is Loki at the start of episode 1?

Since we are following Loki after the Battle of New York in The Avengers, it would be safe to assume that all the events that follow in the new Disney+ series take place in 2012. However in Loki, it's no longer 2012, or even 2021, Loki finds himself outside of the timeline altogether under the Time Variance Authority (TVA).

According to Disney, Loki must navigate and manipulate his way through the unforgiving bureaucratic nightmare that is the TVA and its by-the-numbers mentality. That's where he meets Mobius M. Mobius (Wilson), a TVA agent who needs some "unique Loki perspective" to locate time criminals and help mend the timeline.

Loki will also come up against Judge Renslayer, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Motherless Brooklyn, The Morning Show). She's less forgiving when it comes to encountering Loki's ego but allows him to help because of her friendship with Mobius.

Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson in Loki
Owen Wilson joins the MCU as TVA agent Mobius M. Mobius, with Tom Hiddleston playing the titular Loki. Episode 1 arrives on Disney+ on Wednesday June 9, 2021. Disney

The risks of time travel in the MCU

Since Loki now finds himself out of the timeline, it's possible he could re-enter it at any point.

We could see multiple Tom Hiddlestons on-screen with Loki encountering later versions of himself between 2012 and 2019. One God of Mischief is tricky enough, but imagine the chaos that could be caused with multiple trickster gods.

It's not yet known if there'll be any cameos made in Loki, but it wouldn't be a straightforward interaction for the characters if there were. As far as Loki's Asgardian brother Thor is aware, Loki is dead, and our Loki didn't experience the events of the later Thor films that brought the brothers closer together.

As the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) explained to the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) in Avengers: Endgame, traveling around in time can have dire consequences, opening up a raft of alternative timelines.

It's unclear how Loki, the Time Variance Authority, and even the writers at Marvel plan to deal with these repercussions, but all will soon be revealed as Loki starts on Disney+.

Loki is available to watch for free for Disney+ subscribers from June 9, 2021. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

Tom Hiddleston On Disney+ as Loki
Tom Hiddleston returns to the MCU as Loki in his own original Disney+ series. It starts on Wednesday June 9, 2021. Disney