Marvel Cinematic Universe fans expected Disney+’s Loki to charm, and the series has beautifully done so thus far, even throughout an absolute ton of exposition between Tom Hiddleston’s trickster god and Owen Wilson’s Mobius. They’ve glided through those conversations about free will and jet skis with controlled abandon, but still, there’s no line like the infamous utterance that turned out to be Loki’s first line in this show: “I am Loki of Asgard… and I am burdened with glorious purpose.”
That’s what the mischievous scamp told Time Variance Authority agents in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert. It was his first line in the whole damn show, and fans wanted no less, since it’s his signature dialogue that runs throughout MCU projects. These fateful words were instantly popular, and that’s precisely why the masses of San Diego Comic-Con’s Hall H lost their sh*t back in 2013 when Hiddleston appeared in full God of Mischief regalia to utter his character’s infamous catchphrase while berating humanity.
What is Loki’s “glorious purpose,” really? This might seem like a rhetorical question, but it’s elemental to this series. Heck, it’s the title of the first episode. Swiftly in this show, Loki became more of a tragic figure than we already realized (due to being a Frost Giant raised by Odin, which fueled loads of resentment). This Loki variant — the one who popped into the end of Avengers: Endgame to steal the Tesseract — somehow has more issues. We see him gaze upon the film reel of his own life. He watches the redeemed Loki being killed by Thanos during Avengers: Infinity War, and this Loki is stunned. He scoffs with disbelief to see all of his narcissistic delusions come crashing down around him. “Glorious purpose,” he scornfully mutters. Does Loki have a glorious purpose at all?
Let’s forget for a moment that (on this show) Loki Variants can look like anyone and take any form. Instead, let’s focus on the two Lokis we now know best: (1) The Loki who died in Infinity War after causing far too much mayhem, reforming himself, and dying a noble death; (2) The Loki Variant who’s “helping” the TVA in this Disney+ series.
This little stunt ^^^ actually does help the TVA, and I’m being a trickster by inserting it after emphasizing how saddened Loki was to see that his glorious purpose was a hot pile of garbage. Loki is full of joy in this moment because he’s proven that acts of free will don’t muck up timelines nearly as much as previously believed (and also, Variants can hide inside of apocalypses). It’s an incredibly funny moment, but I do believe that it points towards Loki’s true purpose(s). Yes, he’s the bringer of chaos, but also this:
(1) Loki acts as a mirror for the state of the MCU at any given moment. Really, it’s that simple, and it follows that Loki helps the MCU evolve (or devolve, depending on how one feels about the multiverse happening);
(2) I believe that Loki is fated to ensure that free will exists (as counterproductive as that might seem) and that the multiverse happens.
Work with me here on Loki and the state of the MCU. Arguably, more than any other character (even Star-Lord, who remains the worst), Loki has consistently propelled MCU action. He’s the reason why the Avengers found themselves in hot water after the destruction of NYC, when they were held accountable for the collateral damage of their actions in saving humanity after Loki invited the Chitauri to Earth. That was the first of the dustups leading to the Sovokian Accords, which sparked the events of Captain America: Civil War and most of the following MCU films. Yet (and this is the sentiment of Lady Loki, or Enchantress, in Episode 2) this has never really been about Loki, right?
That leads me to the most tragic moment we’ve seen so far in this series, which is when Mobius crushes Loki’s belief that he was predestined to rule. Mobius, who might actually be a wiped variant himself, points out that Loki would never have known what to do after achieving his purpose as previously believed: that Loki was born to be a leader. Mobius prods him on this, too: What if Loki ruled Midgard and Asgard and became King of Space or whatever? We don’t know what Loki would have done next because he’s never been successful. He’s tried and failed at the hands of the Avengers. Over and over again, Loki is defeated and muzzled and imprisoned, and almost as though his purpose to rule is guaranteed to be a self-defeating one, and therefore, it’s not his true purpose.
Mobius did more needling, by the way, by telling Loki that he was “born to cause pain and suffering and death.” Beyond that negativity (which is valid), Mobius suggests that Loki’s only real purpose has been to motivate others (The Avengers) to become their best selves. It would follow that even Loki’s death wasn’t really about Loki at all: It was about propelling Thor into a new phase, that of the bread-loving Lebowski Thor. That is kind-of a righteous outcome, although not really the kind of purpose that Loki would consider glorious.
Again, one of Loki’s purposes (as I see it) is to mirror the MCU as it transforms. Therefore, his place in this show appears to be guaranteeing that the multiverse exists and show that Variants aren’t necessarily the evil entities that the TVA holds them out to be. Yes, the Loki Variant who’s been dodging in and out of time, murdering TVA agents, seems evil, but hey, what about the guy who showed up late for work once? He’s won’t crush the Sacred Timeline, yet TVA agents feel free to vaporize Variants for whatever reason they deem fit. Not good! Loki could eventually prove that the TVA is a nefarious organization that should be disbanded. This, in turn, will help Loki prevent a black-and-white view of reality. After all, the TVA lore has aimed to convince everyone that the Sacred Timeline is worth protecting above everything else. And as Loki has told Mobius, he knows an ultimate truth: “No one is ever truly bad, and no one is ever truly good.”
This doesn’t appear to be all talk on Loki’s behalf. In effect, he’s pushing for people to be able to shun binary constructions. He’s outwardly explained that this means that no one is 100% anything, but the sliding scale of everything can also be interpreted through Disney+’s surprising decision to confirm that Loki is gender-fluid. And because Loki is such a (charismatic) proponent of free will, it feels as though the TVA will eventually be outed as not-great. Whether that means the TVA is the villain, or the TVA is simply full of nonsense, I can’t guess. The thought of Loki taking down the TVA, where the Infinity Stones are used as freaking paperweights (the nerve!) is a delicious one.
I’d like to think that we can assume that Loki will survive this season because I can’t fathom that Kevin Feige intends to kill this beloved character again (Feige has even suggested that multiple seasons are in the cards for Loki). He’s a Variant yet will likely survive, which would prove that Variants have value and shouldn’t be obliterated. By that interpretation of things, the multiverse will likely prevail, which could point toward Loki’s purpose as being to set up the MCU for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and beyond. That’s Loki’s most glorious purpose: He’s the MCU mover and shaker, and things look like they’re about to get awfully shaky on this series and moving forward.
Disney+’s ‘Loki’ streams new episodes on Wednesdays.