What Really Happened To Loki In Endgame?

So, it turns out Thanos (Josh Brolin) wasn't wrong when he declared that there would be "no resurrections this time" for Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Despite having a Disney+ series in the works, the God of Mischief remains as dead he is in Infinity War by the end of Avengers: Endgame. But that doesn't mean his status quo hasn't changed — Loki manages something in Endgame with potentially huge ramifications.

When the Avengers go back in time to get the Infinity Stones, one team heads to Stark Tower just after the team has captured Loki in Avengers. When the Avengers of the past arrive at the ground floor of the tower, we see a scene unfold that we never caught in the 2012 movie. Secretary Pierce (Robert Redford) and a crowd of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents try to take both Loki and the Tesseract from the Avengers. In part because of the interference of the Avengers from the future, the captive Loki gets his hands on the Tesseract and disappears in a blue flash. The heroes are left to go back even further in time to capture the Space Stone in 1970.

So, where did Loki go? With Infinity Stones, alternate realities, and time travel involved, there's no end to the possibilities. Whatever happens, it seems likely this is the answer to how Loki can be both a victim of Thanos and the star of a mini-series at the same time. Looking at what we know about Loki, the Stones, and the MCU, here are some ideas about what really happened to Loki in Endgame.

He's in an alternate timeline

Time travel can confuse things, but it also raises limitless opportunities. As a narrative tool, it can often be overused and — considering the strong science fiction elements present in the MCU since the beginning — it's to the Marvel storytellers' credit that they waited over 20 movies to actually use time travel (save, to a limited degree, for the use of the Time Stone in Doctor Strange). The cat's out of the bag now, though, and that opens all kinds of possibilities for Loki. 

The most immediately important question about Loki is whether or not, upon capturing the Tesseract and teleporting himself away, Loki creates an alternate timeline — split off from the main MCU continuity — in which he escapes the Avengers with the Tesseract. Or, when Captain America (Chris Evans) brings all the Stones to back their respective times, does he return everything to normal and stop any timelines from branching? When Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) argues with the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), he seems to think the latter is true. If so, then nothing we speculate about what happens to Loki in Endgame matters, because it didn't happen. Confused yet?

Regardless, if Loki does create an alternate timeline when he escapes, then that opens a whole world of possibilities.

He brought his prize to Thanos

Free from the Avengers and in possession of the Space Stone, there's no limit to where Loki might go. He might bring the Tesseract to his benefactor Thanos. The Mad Titan's emissary, the Other (Alexis Denisof) makes it perfectly clear what Loki risks if he fails Thanos, and none of it is pleasant. The double-thumbed alien also makes a point to convince Loki that running or hiding will do him no good. With the Chitauri forces Thanos gave to Loki destroyed, the God of Mischief might see getting the Tesseract back to the Titan as the only way to save his life

However, the odds of this theory coming true aren't too good. At least, Thanos would not be Loki's first stop.

Losing the Chitauri forces to the Avengers would not necessarily sign Loki's death warrant. Thanos wouldn't be happy about it, but his Chitauri are legion, and the armies were meant to act as payment for Loki's services regardless. But there's something we know now that we didn't know when Avengers was released — that Thanos gave Loki an Infinity Stone to get an Infinity Stone. He trusted the Mind Stone, via the scepter, to Loki and in Endgame Loki leaves it behind when he escapes. How does it help Thanos' plans if he gains one Stone just to lose another? No, unless Loki is uncharacteristically foolish, he won't run to Thanos. Doing so would just get his neck broken six years early.

He returned to Asgard to conquer

In 2012, Loki's greatest weakness is his passion for revenge. Had Loki somehow won the Earth in Avengers, he would have eventually turned on his old home. Infuriated by the lies he was told as a child and for Odin (Anthony Hopkins) favoring Thor over him, Loki would never be satisfied if Asgard still stood with his father and brother unscathed. With an Infinity Stone at his command and the knowledge he demonstrates in the first two Thor films about the secret ways into and out of Asgard, his first trip after Endgame might be back home to claim what he sees as his rightful throne. 

The first concern of a free Loki in 2012 will be the reprisal of Thanos. In the proper MCU timeline, he doesn't have to worry at first — Loki's failure to conquer Earth leads him straight to an Asgardian dungeon. As soon as he escapes in Thor: The Dark World, he fakes his own death and disguises himself as Odin. The disguise allows him to rule Asgard, yes, but it has the added bonus of hiding him from Thanos.  

So, if being a prisoner of Asgard protected Loki, imagine the security ruling the place — with all its armies and all the powerful relics waiting in Odin's trophy room — would offer him? After seeing Thanos in action, it's tough to imagine anything or anyone in Asgard could stop him, but a 2012 version of Loki hasn't seen what we have.

He brought the stone to Ronan

Whatever deal was struck between Thanos and Loki, whatever Loki learns from the Mad Titan, it all happens off-screen. We don't know the extent of Loki's knowledge regarding Thanos, his plans, and his other allies. When Thor (Chris Hemsworth) confronts Loki in Avengers, Loki tells his brother he's "seen worlds [Thor has] never known about!" So unless he's lying (which, admittedly, is kind of his thing), he knows quite a bit.

If we assume by 2012 that Thanos and Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) are already allies and that Loki knows about the alliance, Ronan could be Loki's first stop. As we mentioned earlier, Loki has a big problem after Endgame and that problem is Thanos. He could ignore the Other's fierce warnings and do his best to hide from Grimace, or he could try to make an ally that could potentially shield him against the Titan. 

In 2012, Ronan is in no position to challenge Thanos, but as Ronan himself points out in Guardians of the Galaxy, that's because he doesn't know what Thanos is after. When Thanos tasks the Kree with capturing the Orb, Ronan doesn't know it contains the Power Stone. If Loki knows more about Thanos' machinations than Ronan, then he has much to offer the Kree warlord and a potential ally to protect him from Thanos' wrath.

He stayed on Earth

In the now classic mid-credits scene of Avengers when Thanos (then played by Damion Poitier) is first revealed, the Other is warning the Mad Titan against any further action on Earth. He tells his master that to challenge Earth is to "court death." In part this is a reference to the comic book version of Thanos, who is obsessed with Lady Death, but it's also a genuine warning from the Other. The point? If Loki guesses at this apprehension on the part of Thanos' underlings to mess with Earth, then — cosmically speaking, at least — the trickster might decide the best place to be is exactly where he is.

With his superior physical abilities, his magical talents, his cosmic knowledge, and one of the six Infinity Stones in his possession, Loki could potentially live a long (very long) and happy life on Earth. As long as he stays under the radar of the Avengers and other interested parties, he could remain on Earth for as long as he wants, with his own superhero enemies acting as a shield against Thanos' wrath. 

Or, alternatively, he could stay on Earth with the intention of recapturing his scepter to give to Thanos. As we mentioned earlier, Loki probably knows if he returns to Thanos but without both Infinity Stones, he's a dead man. Assuming Loki knows nothing about the Avengers returning to the future with the Mind Stone, he likely assumes it's still on Earth in his present day. 

He returned to Jotunheim

What's easier than conquering a world ruled by your adoptive family? Conquering a world ruled by no one.

After 2011's Thor, we don't hear much from Jotunheim, the land of the Frost Giants. Thor and Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) visit it briefly and involuntarily during their battle in 2013's Thor: The Dark World, but we don't exactly get a good picture of the political situation there. We know after initially offering to help assassinate Odin, Loki betrays and murders his biological father, Jotunheim's King Laufey (Colm Feore), and then he attempts to use the bifrost to destroy the frost giants' world. Once Jotunheim is saved we have no idea who, if anyone, steps in to fill the void Laufey leaves behind, or if the giants have any idea that it was Laufey's son who tried to wipe them out (they aren't the brightest bunch).

So, when Loki escapes the Avengers in Endgame and needs a place to hang his horned hat, a potentially leaderless Jotunheim might be the perfect choice, and the throne could be his for the taking. He is the biological son of their dead king, he has an Infinity Stone to back up his claim, and from what little we saw in Thor his presence on Jotunheim may shift the IQ average overnight. Not to mention that with intimate knowledge of Asgard and its most powerful leaders, he's in a unique position to satisfy any frost giants hungry to make war on Odin once more.

He went Knowhere

The mid-credits scene of Thor: The Dark World sees Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) sent to Knowhere to deliver the Aether to the Collector. It's one of the most deceptively important moments in the MCU — Volstagg says the Tesseract is on Asgard, and it would be unwise to keep two Infinity Stones in the same place. This is the first time in the MCU we hear either the Aether or the Tesseract referred to as Infinity Stones. 

Without some as-of-yet unrevealed connection between Loki and the Collector, it's a moment that doesn't make much sense. It's Loki disguised as Odin who sends the Aether to Knowhere, and the power hungry Loki is not someone we expect to send an Infinity Stone to someone else. Not unless there's a plan behind it all. A connection between the Collector and Loki could also explain the Grandmaster's (Jeff Goldblum) friendship with the trickster in Thor: Ragnarok, as Grandmaster and the Collector are brothers. If this connection between the Collector and Loki ever proves to be more than speculation, then it could be that Knowhere was Loki's first stop after Endgame.

He went on his own stone quest

One thing that's easy to forget about Loki is that, before Thanos finally rounds them up in Avengers: Infinity War, Loki has more encounters with more Infinity Stones than anyone in the MCU. In Avengers, he possesses both the Mind Stone (via the scepter) and the Tesseract. After usurping Odin at the end of Thor: The Dark World, he has access to the Reality Stone (until he sends it to Knowhere) and as much access as he wants to the Space Stone, a.k.a. the Tesseract, as it remains in Odin's vault until Loki steals it at the end of Ragnarok. Finally, though his proximity to it is brief, for a few moments Loki is mere feet from the Time Stone when Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) teleports him and Thor to Norway in Ragnarok

Loki knows the Infinity Stones — at least, he knows something about them. We don't know how much, if anything, Thanos tells him about them, but the trickster god has a way of getting information whether you want him to or not. Armed with the Infinity Stone that has the power to bring him anywhere, Loki may decide to go on an Infinity Stone quest of his own. Not only would the completion of such an endeavor feed his hunger for power, but again, would provide him with the muscle to destroy Thanos should the Titan come for his vengeance. 

Absolutely nothing

Of course, it's possible that Loki's presumed escape from the Avengers in Endgame simply never happens. Steve Rogers, before going off to live the life he's earned with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), returns the Infinity Stones to their proper places in history, thereby wiping out any timeline branches the Avengers cause when they grab the Stones in Endgame.

We don't think that's the case, but the possibility has to be acknowledged. After all, the masterminds behind the conclusion to the Thanos saga, Anthony and Joe Russo, have proven over the course of four movies that they know how make us expect one thing and then deliver another. "No resurrections this time" may be the final word on Loki, and we might be interpreting his teleportation in Endgame to mean much more than it does.

Still, we really don't think Loki's escape was wiped out. After all, this Disney+ series has happen somehow. And if the series isn't either going to be a prequel or just six episodes of Loki's remains floating in space, his escape in Endgame appears to be the most likely inciting action.