Tom Hiddleston's Loki may not be the main character in the Thor films, but he's easily one of the most compelling characters. The God of Mischief is a ruthlessly wily adversary, but Thor: Ragnarok explores his character and motivation like no other Marvel movie to date.
We know that Loki is set to return in Avengers: Infinity War, as is his brother. But how does Infinity War set up Loki for the next Avengers blockbuster film?
Note: This article contains spoilers for Thor: Ragnarok.
Loki's Place At The End Of 'Thor: Ragnarok'
The film ends with the Asgardians in a dangerous place. The entire population of the Realm Eternal has been forced to flee their ancestral home, and are settled on a single spacecraft. Loki has proved himself a true hero; in spite of several morally ambiguous moments in the film, he still led the gladiators of Sakaar as they came to Asgard's aid. He took a massive risk in opposing Hela, but ultimately Loki's commitment to his people triumphed over his fear of the Goddess of Death.
But now the Asgardians are at risk once again. The post-credits scene sees the Asgardian vessel arriving in front of Thanos's ship, with his Chitauri fleet waiting in the wings. Suddenly the stakes are higher than ever before. If Thanos manages to blow the Asgardians out of the sky, he'll literally wipe out the entire race. Worse still, most of Asgard's greatest warriors and champions were slaughtered by Hela, and the Lady Sif is still missing. Things don't look good for the Asgardians.
What Of Loki's Role In 'Avengers: Infinity War'?
Crucially, Loki has something that Thanos wants. Making his way through Odin's treasure vault, Loki spotted his old friend, the Tesseract, and snagged it. Teasers at D23 and San Diego Comic-Con told us that Loki would present the Tesseract to Thanos, but the clips didn't give us any sense of just why he would do such a thing.
The post-credits scene for Ragnarok gives us a disturbing possibility. Loki has already come through for his people in Ragnarok, and now he has something to bargain with. Will the God of Mischief offer Thanos the Tesseract, bargaining for the Mad Titan to spare the Asgardians? That seems like a possibility, and it dovetails nicely with a specific comic book arc that seems to have inspired Infinity War.
Fans had originally believed the film was based on Jim Starlin's classic Infinity Gauntlet miniseries, but evidence is building that it's actually rooted in Jonathan Hickman's "Infinity" event. This arc saw Thanos and his Black Order invading the Earth, seeking out a specific prize, in that case, Thanos's son, Thane. Although the arc has been changed, with the Infinity Stone replacing Thane as Thanos's sought-after prize, everything is matching up. The Black Order, the invasion of Wakanda, the idea of Thanos commanding an army — all these ideas are rooted in "Infinity," not in Infinity Gauntlet.
In "Infinity," Thanos offered his victims a choice. He would either wipe out their race, or they could offer him a tribute. In that case, it was the slaughter of all children of a certain age. In Infinity War, it could easily be the Infinity Stone that they possess.
But what will Loki's fate ultimately be? Will this beloved character survive his encounter with the Mad Titan? Thanos hoped to be given the Tesseract a long time ago, and Loki failed him. It's possible that Loki's desperate gamble will be his last.
Do you think Loki will offer the Tesseract in order to save the people of Asgard? Let me know your theories in the comments!