This post discusses the events of Loki’s second episode, “The Variant.”
On the latest episode of Disney+’s Loki, the Time Variance Authority finally caught up with the evil (or at least more evil) version of the God Of Mischief who has been disrupting timelines and murdering TVA agents. But it turns out there was something different about this Loki beneath that giant hood (as foreshadowed by the fact that you don’t put a giant hood on someone unless you want the face underneath it to be a surprise): She’s a woman, played by Sophia Di Martino. She briefly objects to being called Loki, so there might be something else going on, but the outfit and the horns certainly give off a powerful Loki vibe. As surprising as this twist may have been, it shouldn’t be a total shock to anyone who follows Marvel Comics, since—as we pointed out before Loki’s premiere—the universe is littered with alternate versions of Loki.
If this Lady Loki is what she appears to be, though, that means the reveal also serves as further evidence that Marvel Studios has been quietly building another super-team right before our eyes, one that could serve as a replacement for the old/dead/retired Avengers with new heroes that carry on the legacies and names of older heroes. A young Avengers, if you will, because that’s literally what we’re talking about. The Young Avengers were a fan-favorite team from the comics, operating in the shadows and without necessarily getting the permission of the adult Avengers, and a lot of Marvel fans online have guessed that one of the studio’s future plans involves giving them their own movie or TV show (sort of like a subtler version of the lead-up to the first Avengers).
Well, they’re the clearest evidence we have so far that this is what’s happening, because we’ve already met a lot of them: There’s Wiccan, a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch’s (sort of) son Billy, who was introduced as a kid in WandaVision. There’s also Patriot, a.k.a. Eli Bradley, who appeared in The Falcon And The Winter Soldier as the grandson of former super-soldier Isaiah Bradley. Still not convinced? In the comics, the team later added Stature, a.k.a. Cassie Lang, Scott’s daughter from the Ant-Man movies who grew up while he was lost between Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. Need more? The breakout star of the team was Kate Bishop, a.k.a. Hawkeye, who will make her MCU debut in Disney+’s Hawkeye show.
That’s all without going too deep into speculation, but the team in the comics also includes the shapeshifter Hulkling, who happens to be a Skrull and could easily be introduced in Disney+’s upcoming Skrull-focused Secret Invasion show. The original iteration of the team even had Iron Lad, who was actually a young version of time-traveling villain Kang The Conqueror, whose origin story is possibly the most complicated thing in Marvel history (there are at least a half-dozen separate and distinct characters in the comics with their own goals and personalities who are actually just different versions of Kang.) The important bit there, though, is that one of those variations was tasked with cleaning up the timeline at one point by the Time-Keepers—as in, the same Time-Keepers who were introduced on Loki as the creators of the TVA. It’s not necessarily a straight line to the Young Avengers, but there is a line.
As for Loki, at some point in the comics he was killed, then resurrected as a little kid who was (more or less) actually good and nice. He worked with a second iteration of the Young Avengers team, doing his best to suppress his darker impulses, eventually growing into a slightly better person who sometimes tries to do the right thing (this is where a lot of the MCU Loki’s look and personality originated). Every single one of the Disney+ Marvel shows, along with the forthcoming Hawkeye, have introduced at least one member of the Young Avengers, and now that we’ve seen a Lady Loki who seemingly confirms that other versions of Loki are possible, the Loki show wouldn’t have to do too much extra work to introduce a character like the Kid Loki who joined the Young Avengers. From there, it’s just a matter of having him team up with Kate Bishop, Cassie Lang, Billy, and Eli Bradley.
Loki is clearly telling its own story about the God Of Mischief and whether or not he’s really as much of an asshole as he pretends to be when invading New York City or letting the Frost Giants into Asgard, but Marvel Studios has pretty clearly been setting up something in the background of those stories. MCU boss Kevin Feige said years ago that the future of Marvel Studios would partially involve pre-made teams like the Guardians Of The Galaxy rather than separate movies about individual heroes who would then band together like in The Avengers, and quietly teasing new heroes in unrelated stories before revealing them as a full team in their own show or movie does seem to be in line with what he’s describing. We just have to wait and see what other tricks the Lokis have up their sleeves.