In the MCU we’ve seen Loki as a hero, a villain, and a king. Thanks to the Disney+ animated series What If…? we’ve even seen versions of the trickster god who was successful in some of his darker ambitions. But the one story I’m dying to see about the god of lies, that we will likely never get a chance to see, is the story of Loki’s tutelage under the Mad Titan, Thanos.
We know so little about what went on between Loki and Thanos in between the events of 2011’s Thor and 2012’s The Avengers. We know they strike a deal: Thanos gives Loki the Chitauri with which to conquer the Earth, and in return the trickster god will hand the Tesseract over to the Mad Titan. We know Thanos gives Loki a scepter containing the Mind Stone which, among other things, allows the Asgardian prince to contact the Titan’s servant The Other.
“I’ve seen worlds you’ve never known about! I have grown, Odinson, in my exile. I have seen the true power of the Tesseract…”
That’s it. We do not see any interaction between the two villains until the opening scene of 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, after which Loki (the Earth-616 version at least) never has any interactions with anyone else again. Other than Thanos making it clear he was unimpressed with Loki’s performance in The Avengers (“If you consider failure experience.”), nothing about their relationship is revealed.
When Loki is reunited with Thor in The Avengers, however, he hints his time with Thanos encompassed more than a deal being struck. “I’ve seen worlds you’ve never known about!” he boasts to Thor. “I have grown, Odinson, in my exile. I have seen the true power of the Tesseract…”
Of course, Loki prides himself as the god of mischief so we may not want to take what he says at face value, but the way he delivers it is convincing. His mention of worlds Thor has “never known about,” is intriguing. Considering what we know about Thor–the guy is as comfortable in a spaceship as he is in a chariot, and took an elective course in understanding Groot–it seems unlikely the trickster is speaking simply of some kind of extensive tour around the galaxy.
Did he, perhaps briefly, find a new kind of family with Thanos and his servants?
So what does he mean? Other dimensions? The multiverse? The Microverse? The Cancerverse (yep, that’s a thing)? I have no idea, which is precisely why I’d love to see the story unfold.
Equally intriguing is Loki’s mention of the “true power of the Tesseract.” In particular, it makes it tough to not wonder how much, if anything, Loki knew of Thanos’s plans. I tend to think he didn’t know, but I could be wrong.
It’s also tantalizing to wonder who else among the servants of Thanos did Loki rub elbows with. Did he know Gamora and/or Nebula? Ronan the Accuser? Did he meet the Black Order?
At the very least, it seems likely he did know the Black Order, but that’s based only on that first brutal scene of Infinity War. Of all the passengers aboard the Asgardian Refugee ship we see when the movie opens, Loki is the only one not lying prone, suggesting the Black Order knew exactly who he was and made sure he was somewhere Thanos could find him.
Loki’s tutelage under Thanos, referenced in 2012’s The Avengers, would be a wonderful slice of the MCU to actually see on the screen.
But the most intriguing question I have about Loki’s time with Thanos is how it changed him beneath the surface. He learned under the Mad Titan immediately after the event which, in his eyes, tore his entire family away from him. Did he, perhaps briefly, find a new kind of family with Thanos and his servants?
I’m not suggesting any kind of warm and fuzzy feelings shared between Loki and Thanos. The cold threats exchanged between the trickster god and The Other in The Avengers make it clear Loki harbored no illusions about what would happen to him if he failed and Thanos got his hands on him.
But considering the bright, warm world of lies Loki had just rejected, I can’t help but wonder if the merciless honesty of Thanos and his servants could have somehow represented a more real family to the god of mischief.