The series, of course, focuses on the first threat that united the Avengers: Loki. Interestingly, it isn’t just a continuation of the Loki plotline we’ve seen throughout the MCU to date. Instead, it focuses on a version of Loki that escaped during the time heist in Avengers: Endgame.
That escape, therefore, takes him out of the MCU timeline - where we see him redeemed and (potential spoiler alert) eventually die.
Trailers for Loki indicate that the God of Mischief is now traveling through time, and he runs afoul with the Time Variance Authority. It’s an institution that limits the number of time-travel shenanigans happening across the multiverses in the MCU. So, think of the TVA as the MCU’s version of time cops, with Owen Wilson serving as the organisation's leader, Mobius M Mobius.
All of this has us thinking about what parts of the MCU are worth a rewatch ahead of Loki. So, we rounded up the Marvel films featuring Loki’s backstory. We also added a few films that we could see being important because they have some connection to time travel.
What to watch before Loki
NOTE: THERE MAY BE MCU SPOILERS BELOW. Skip to the bottom of this guide to see a bulleted, spoiler-free list version.
Thor isn’t just an origin story for the God of Thunder; it introduces us to his mischievous brother Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston. In this film, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is banished from Asgard by his father after provoking a war with the frost giants. Thor’s banishment makes Loki the new heir to the throne, and wouldn’t you know it, their father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), is about to take a long nap.
The Avengers (2012)
Of all the films to watch before Loki, the original Avengers film might just be the most important. We see Loki on a mission to seize control of Earth. He’s made an alliance with Thanos, who’s given him an army of Chitauri to help him conquer the planet and defeat Earth’s mightiest heroes. It’s important to remember that the Loki at the conclusion of this film will be the version of Loki we see in the upcoming series.
So, all the development in his character, and his eventual redemption in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War, will be replaced by a version of Loki fresh off his most humiliating defeat.
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
This movie has been hailed as one of the worst MCU films, but it has its redeeming qualities.
For one, it’s become integral to the plot in the MCU, thanks to its inclusion in the time heist featured in Avengers: Endgame. The film picks up where The Avengers ended, seeing Thor imprison his brother on Asgard. Soon enough, another threat arrives in the form of the Dark Elves, led by Malakith (Christopher Eccleston), which forces Thor to turn to his brother for help.
An important moment for Loki in this film is when he assists the Dark Elves - who are invading Asgard - from his prison cell by giving them directions, which inadvertently causes the death of his mother.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Ragnarok sees Thor out to prevent the long foretold apocalyptic destruction of Asgard - known as Ragnarok.
This has kept him away from Asgard, and upon his return, he finds his brother Loki has been impersonating his father on the throne of Asgard. Long story short, this leads to the debut of Thor and Loki’s sister, the Goddess of Death named Hela (Cate Blanchett). She easily dispatches her two brothers, who are flung across the universe by the bifrost to the gladiatorial plant known as Sakaar.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
If you’re only in this for Loki’s story, you can stop Infinity War at the 15-minutes mark.
The opening scene picks up where the end credits scene in Thor: Ragnarok left off. The ship filled with the remaining Asgardians has been boarded by Thanos, who is after the Space Infinity Stone, which is housed in the Tesseract (the blue cube in layman’s terms).
Thanos begins to torture Thor, demanding the cube, when Loki reveals it to Thanos. While at first it seems that Loki is once again breaking bad in offering to join Thanos, he makes an ill-fated attempt to kill the mad titan to save his brother. It fails, and Thanos easily kills him.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Endgame opened the door for the Loki series to happen following his death in Infinity War. While trying to get the three Infinity Stones that were in New York during the events of the first Avengers film, the team fails to account for the Hulk for a moment, which sends the Space Stone skidding across the floor right to Loki’s feet. He picks it up and steps back through a portal and into the upcoming series.
Another way this film might be connected to Loki is through the time-travel element. We know the upcoming series will introduce the Time Variance Authority, and we’re pretty curious about their opinion of the Avengers manipulating time to thwart Thanos.
Doctor Strange (2016)
We’re throwing Doctor Strange onto this list purely because it’s the first time we’ve seen time manipulated in the MCU.
Using the Time Stone hidden in the Eye of Agamotto, Doctor Strange is able to prevent Dormammu from coming to Earth. He also completely rewinds time - bringing a lot of people back to life in the process. It might not be critical to the plot of Loki, but we would bet that it at least gets a mention in the series, especially since Loki and Strange had a short meeting in Thor: Ragnarok.
Ant-Man (2015) and Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018)
So, here’s where we are going to do some theorising. We know from segments of the trailers that a portion of Loki will be taking place in the 70s. There are not many characters in the MCU who were active around that time. But we know Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) invented the Pym particles that allowed the Avengers to time travel sometime in the 60s. Pym was also just doing his own thing as Ant-Man with his wife Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) as the original Wasp during this time.
Spoiler-free version: What to watch before Loki
This is the same guide as above, only bulleted in list form and free of spoilers:
- Thor (2011)
- The Avengers (2012)
- Thor: The Dark World (2013)
- Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
- Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
- Avengers: Endgame (2019)
- Doctor Strange (2016)
- Ant-Man (2015)
- Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018)