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Endgame directors confirm exactly what happened to Loki

The death of Tom Hiddleston's Loki at the top of Avengers: Infinity War was equal parts devastating and unbelievable. Fans gripped tightly onto the hope that somehow the trickster god would miraculously come back to life and exact his revenge on Josh Brolin's Thanos in Avengers: Endgame. Tears that viewers shed over Loki's passing subsided a bit when fans saw that Endgame featured scenes of him from 2012 and 2014 when the Avengers embarked on their time heist adventure. However, the biggest moment past Loki had in Endgame left plenty of fans scratching their heads in confusion – but thankfully, the film's directors have come forward to explain exactly what happened to the God of Mischief in the movie. 

Sibling filmmakers Joe and Anthony Russo got candid with Business Insider about the Endgame scene in which Loki swiftly grabs the Space Stone and escapes. It happens when Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Professor Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Captain America (Chris Evans) return to New York City in 2012 to collect the Tesseract (which held the Space Stone) and Loki's Scepter (the vessel for the Mind Stone) before both can be transported back to S.H.I.E.L.D. The plan doesn't go nearly as smoothly as the heroes intended, and the briefcase containing the Tesseract flies out of Iron Man's hands, slides across the floor, and lands at Loki's feet. He grabs it and teleports away, and that's the last anyone sees of Loki in Avengers: Endgame

So, what went down? Where is Loki now?

According to co-director Joe Russo, Loki is still dead in the core Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline — his capturing of the Space Stone in 2012 doesn't reverse his Infinity War death — but he is alive in a different pocket of the multiverse. Loki taking the Stone and beaming away created a unique timeline, which falls in line with Professor Hulk and the Ancient One's (Tilda Swinton) explanation of time travel. Essentially, Loki's escape with the Space Stone was significant enough to cause the central timeline to break off into a branched reality. 

"Loki, when he teleports away with the [Space] Stone, would create his own timeline. It gets very complicated, but it would be impossible for [Cap] to rectify the timeline unless he found Loki. The minute that Loki does something as dramatic as take the Space Stone, he creates a branched reality," Joe Russo explained. 

Now, Tony Stark and Steve Rogers did wind up getting their hands on the Space Stone by utilizing the last of their available Pym Particles to travel to 1970, steal the Space Stone from S.H.I.E.L.D., and then snag a few more vials of Particles from Hank Pym's lab so they could return home again. This allowed them to fulfill their time heist mission and load up Professor Hulk's own Infinity Gauntlet in the year 2023 to revive the heroes who were killed at the end of Infinity War, but it didn't fix the problem of there being a Loki somewhere out there gallivanting around with the Space Stone he stole in 2012. The final moments of Endgame saw Cap returning the Space Stone (and the five others) to the location from where it was taken — S.H.I.E.L.D. in 1970, not New York in 2012. It's confusing, like Russo mentioned, but the truth of the matter is that taking the Tesseract from and returning it to 1970 doesn't affect Loki snagging it in 2012, at least not according to the time travel standards by which Endgame operates. 

There's a chance that Captain America may have jumped back to 2012 a second time while he was returning the Infinity Stones and stopped Loki from taking the Tesseract, but we can't say for certain whether this actually happened. The Russo brothers apparently told Business Insider that Loki "still manages to escape" when the timeline gets reversed, though they didn't mention one way or the other whether Cap attempted to prevent Loki's escape. 

As of now, past Loki is living it up with the Space Stone in an alternate timeline. He isn't the same character fans saw soften in Thor: Ragnarok and die in Avengers: infinity War, though. This is pre-redemption arc Loki, a Loki who is still a villain who tried to ravage Earth on behalf of Thanos. 

The door is open for this Loki to return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a future film, but it's more likely that evil 2012 Loki will first rear his head on his standalone streaming series headed to Disney+. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has noted that the Disney+ superhero series, which also include WandaVision and a Winter Soldier/Falcon team-up show, will "intersect with the movies in a very big way" — suggesting that Loki's sneaky getaway in Endgame could shape everything about his forthcoming TV series. 

It's unclear when the project will hit the service, so fans have plenty of time to speculate about how the series will explore Loki's alternate timeline. Is he being an all-out baddie and asking strangers to bend the knee to him? Or is he taking a more subtle approach to villainy, kicking back while his newfound servants feed him grapes and brush his hair? Either seem plausible — and plot points we'd be down to see unfold on the Loki series.