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Loki season 2 is bringing Marvel Comics’ god of stories to the MCU

From the start, Loki has been a liberal interpretation of Marvel Comics mythology, where the inner workings of the Time Variance Authority have never been given a consistent spotlight and the god of mischief has never really been associated with them. It made reference to specific Lokis from comics past, but wasn’t interested in playing out their stories.
But that all might be changing in the penultimate episode of Loki season 2. The Marvel Cinematic Universe appears to be picking up Loki’s biggest character moment of the last decade — one that, ironically, probably wouldn’t have happened without the MCU.
[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for “Science/Fiction,” the fifth episode of Loki season 2.]
There isn’t really a specific moment that gives away the intentions of the Loki writers room in “Science/Fiction,” but lots of vague ones. Sylvie tells him: “We’re all writing our own stories now.” O.B./A.D. encourages Loki to find the solution to his time-travel problems through fiction, not science. Then there’s Loki’s own end-of-episode declaration that his new ability to control his timeslipping will allow him to “rewrite the story.”
In season 2, Loki has found a place he likes in the TVA, and the TVA is in dire need of someone to teach it how to shepherd timelines instead of pruning them: Someone to watch over the “story” of the multiverse. This pivot — of likening the ability to control time to fiction — is a dead ringer for the most consequential transformation the shape-shifting Asgardian has made in modern comics: when Loki stopped being the god of lies and started being the god of stories. But it’s not exactly the same in one major way.
Old gods do new jobs
Loki’s transition from evil trickster to sympathetic trickster probably wouldn’t have happened without the sheer charm of Tom Hiddleston’s on-screen portrayal; the classic comics Loki was manipulative, sure, but far from charismatic. Everything Thor was — handsome, young, strong, charming — Loki wasn’t. That was kind of the point.
In 2010, that version of Loki died. Like, he really extra super died, even for the standards of eternally recurring gods and eternally resurrecting comic book characters. What followed, from the work of comics writers like Matt Fraction, Kieron Gillen, and Al Ewing, was a story of a new being born to take Loki’s name and fill his place in Asgard as Thor’s brother and Odin’s least-loved son, navigating his relationship with the previous Loki’s past crimes and what he would do with his own future.
This Loki was handsome. This Loki was charming and likable. This Loki struggled with the perceptions of those who’d known his previous self and were convinced that this new form was just yet another trick. And in 2015, right before the whole universe shut down and restarted, this Loki defied the demands of two past and one future versions of himself to create his own path, rechristening himself the god of stories rather than lies.
Loki season 2 appears to be trying to get to the same endpoint, just in a much more science fiction-y way. Which is a bit of a pity, if you ask me.
The spirit of the thunder is to be heard
Comics Loki’s turn to story as his portfolio is deeply rooted in the Marvel Comics understanding of Thor and the rest of his Asgardian cast as living mythology. They are made of stories and at least partly given power by the relationship they have with human minds and human tellers. As Jason Aaron put it in the finale of his Thor run, Thor is the god of thunder, and like a story told aloud, “the spirit of the thunder is to be heard.”
Superhero comics are themselves a modern descendant of oral tradition and heroic epics, adding a fun metatextual layer to a god of stories in a universe that is, both within the fiction and in a literal sense, bound by the rules of a good yarn. If we root Loki’s power over story in simple time travel, I think we miss something with a lot of rich metaphoric potential.
But there, Loki season 2 is really just playing a hand it’s already been dealt. In the early 2010s, Marvel Studios made the determination that the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Asgardians would be characterized as scientifically advanced beings who had inspired myth, rather than the mystical stuff of myth themselves. So Loki the show had to find its own way to the same conclusion as Loki the comic book character: Call him a god of time-travel stories, perhaps.



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