Loki kicked off on Disney Plus last week with a question — Who was this dangerous variant attacking the Time Variance Authority? — and a surprise. Turned out, it was none other than an alternate timeline version of Loki himself.
Loki’s second episode wasted no time in delving back into the series’ mysteries in a big way, and unveiling the renegade.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for Loki through episode 2.]
The end of the episode revealed a brand new character for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one that may have come as a surprise to movie fans — but was a very familiar twist for comic readers. The tricky Loki variant who’s been mucking up the timeline to spite the Time Variance Authority is a female version of Loki, played by English actress Sophia Di Martino (Yesterday).
In other words, she’s Lady Loki.
Who is Lady Loki?
The Loki of Norse mythology is notorious for changing shape and reinventing himself at will, but the Marvel Comics version of Loki had been surprisingly stagnant since his early appearances. Even across the multiverse, Loki was almost always just another mustache-twirling villain prone to elaborate nonsensical schemes born of nothing but bitter jealousy for his brother. But by the early 2000s, the whole gimmick was a little stale.
The increasingly tedious villainy of Marvel Comics’ Loki led to editorial and creative choices that developed him into more of an antihero than an outright villain, bringing about renewed interest in the character. And a big part of that transformation is Lady Loki, who started her history in comics by just straight up stealing Sif’s body. Altruistic as Loki can be when the mood strikes, Lady Loki was often just as villainous as the bitter, spiteful Loki of the early days.
A brief history of when Loki was a woman
After the events of the earth-shattering Ragnarok event, Marvel’s 2007 Thor ongoing book focused on the Odinson’s search for any remaining Asgardians who had survived their fall — or been reborn in new forms. Meanwhile, Loki had been reborn into a body intended for Lady Sif, and, desiring to use the body as his own, Loki trapped Sif in the form of an elderly woman in hospice care, rendering her powerless to stop him. By the fifth issue of the series, Lady Loki had made her presence known to Thor, which confused and upset him — not due to Loki’s new form necessarily, but because of their complicated history. And the whole fact that Loki had helped bring about Ragnarok in the first place.
Lady Loki quickly swore that she would never again tell a lie, but instead she leaned into using her new penchant for truth-telling in equally manipulative ways. Winning Balder’s trust by telling him that he was the son of Odin, just like Thor, the two gods created a shaky and temporary alliance, but one that gained Loki a lot of trust by association.
But Loki was still Loki, and she made no bones about her ultimate goal, which was always to destroy Thor and take his place as the eventual ruler of Asgard. And she still possessed many of Loki’s qualities, be they admirable or terrible.
During the 2008 Secret Invasion event, Lady Loki nearly caused the death of fan-favorite-alien-buddy-of-Thor Beta Ray Bill simply by insisting that he was a Skrull in disguise. Meanwhile, as a member of Norman Osborne’s secret supervillain society the Cabal, she proved her identity to Doctor Doom by happily frying many of his servants to death during a dinner, then strolling into his headquarters and opening up negotiations with him. Her schemes also included tricking Odin’s father Bor into a combat in which Thor was forced to kill his own grandfather to save the world, after which Loki encouraged Balder to banish Thor from Asgard.
Loki returned to a male form eventually, but even then Lady Loki has made numerous appearances in later Thor comics — though more as cameos than as the lead of a Loki story. In Loki: Agent of Asgard, she shows up only very briefly as the troubled, younger Loki looking for redemption faces down his older, more evil incarnation. Agent of Asgard was all about our beloved antihero’s first attempts to erase the sins of his past, only to finally accept them as part of his learning curve, reimagining himself as the God of Stories rather than the God of Lies. Confronting Lady Loki was key to unlocking some of Loki’s greatest strengths, enabling him to become more heroic than ever — by finally truly accepting himself as a changeable, even mercurial, figure.
Though she’s been out of the picture for some time, Lady Loki’s impeccable style and keen wit have made her a fan favorite for comic book readers, and as Loki unfolds, perhaps she’ll become a Marvel Cinematic Universe fan favorite as well.