Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for Loki Season 2, Episode 5.
The Big Picture
- In Loki Season 2, the god of mischief gains control over his time-slipping ability, allowing him to rewrite history and become incredibly powerful.
- Loki’s new powers bear similarities to the Marvel Comics character, the Beyonder, an omnipotent being with the ability to shape-shift and manipulate the multiverse.
- Making Loki the MCU’s version of the Beyonder is a fascinating way to incorporate a fan-favorite character that is pivotal to the multiverse in a new, organic way.
Loki Season 2’s penultimate episode added another magical ability to the god of mischief’s already impressive arsenal. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) gaining control over his time-slipping condition lets him rewrite history. In this second swing at a redemption arc for the MCU mainstay, the reformed villain might have become the franchise’s most powerful entity. Not only is Loki evolving into “the god of stories” a spectacularly meta concept for a tragically lonely character that always seemed doomed to an unfair fate, but at the outset, Loki’s new powers are awfully similar to a Marvel Comics entity with longstanding ties to the company’s many multiverse storylines. In fact, if you’ve picked up a comic since the 1980s (Marvel and DC), you’ve probably felt this character’s influence. The Beyonder, originally introduced in the 1984 Secret Wars story arc, is part of an omnipotent, shapeshifting, and sometimes trickster-like species that mold the multiverse to their whims every few decades. Loki head writer Eric Martin hinted that the reasons behind Loki’s time-slipping aren’t just coincidence — and there’s that Avengers: Secret Wars movie coming out in a few years. Could Loki be the MCU’s repurposed version of the Beyonder?
Loki, the God of Mischief, steps out of his brother’s shadow to embark on an adventure that takes place after the events of “Avengers: Endgame.”
- Release Date
- June 9, 2021
- Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Richard E. Grant
- Main Genre
Who Is the Beyonder in Marvel Comics?
The Beyonder has had his cosmic fingers in almost every multiverse pie since the Marvel Comics multiverse was conceived. He debuted as the main antagonist of Jim Shooter, Mike Zeck, and Bob Layton‘s 1984 Secret Wars storyline, Marvel’s first company-wide crossover event and one that’s had ripple effects across continuity ever since. The Beyonder, a member of the Beyonders species who exist — can you guess? — in a dimension “Beyond” the multiverse, cites his first memory as an explosion that allowed him to travel to any dimension. With this newfound freedom, he gathers Earth’s mightiest heroes and villains into a dimension named Battleworld and orders them to fight. (As one does.) In Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribić‘s 2015 version of Secret Wars, as part of a cosmic experiment, the Beyonder species destroy the multiverse and leave the Marvel heroes to pick up the pieces.
After the success of the inaugural Secret Wars, the Beyonder and Beyonders underwent several different concepts, iterations, and reboots over the years, including being sentient Cosmic Cubes, creating the Celestials, studying and emulating humanity, and conquering the multiverse. The aspects that mostly remained consistent are the (singular) Beyonder’s ability to shapeshift into any form and remake reality to his choosing, and his chaos-loving, deceptive personality (although that evolved as well). Over the decades, the Beyonder killed Death, made a nemesis of Doctor Doom, modeled his appearance after Steve Rogers’ Captain America, and tried becoming a human do-gooder.
The Beyonder Has Appeared in the Marvel Multiverse Before
In 2022, Al Ewing and Javier Rodríguez‘s Defenders Beyond arc sees the Defenders group — of which Loki is a member — encounter the Beyonder and visit the Beyond in person. Earlier this year, the Avengers Beyond arc from Derek Landy and Greg Land has the Beyonder warn the Avengers about the imminent arrival of a far worse enemy. Trying to whip the heroes into preparatory shape, the Beyonder “alter[s] the very fabric of reality in an attempt to prepare the planet for a threat that could destroy everything.”
Onscreen, a version of the Beyonder voiced by Laurence Fishburne appeared in the 2023 cartoon Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. In line with comic arcs like Secret Wars II, the Beyonders sent their emissary to study humanity. The Beyonder individual decides that Lunella Lafayette (Diamond White), the Moon Girl of the titular duo, is the only decent person on Earth. He casts an illusion pretending to destroy her home only for his mind games with Lunella to be just that: a manipulative ploy to better understand human motivations. Entertainment Weekly described this iteration of the character as “a comedically impish and self-centered trickster.” (Sounds familiar!) Previously, Season 4 of the Disney XD Avengers Assemble cartoon, subtitled Marvel’s Avengers: Secret Wars, adapted the famous story with the Beyonder voiced by Steven Weber. Loki’s (Troy Baker) actions — a long-con power grab — are the reason why the Beyonder learns about Earth, forms Battleworld, and kidnaps the Avengers.
What Does Loki As the Beyonder Offer the MCU’s Multiverse Saga?
Until the end credits roll on Loki Season 2, tying the god of mischief to the Beyonder is conjecture. However, more than a few happy coincidences, thematic overlaps, and shared skill sets exist between the two — especially considering what Secret Wars elements the MCU has already adapted for its Multiverse Saga, like the incursions introduced in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness and extrapolated upon in detail with Loki‘s second season. The Loki creative team also incorporated his unique time-slipping ability for a reason. Season 2 head writer Eric Martin told Collider in an exclusive interview: “I think we’re clocking that the time slipping is meaningful from the beginning all the way through the end.” Executive producer Kevin Wright, meanwhile, described Loki Season 2 as wrapping up “two chapters of the same book…but that there are many other books on the shelf for this character and for this world. […] We’ve been telling, by the end of this, almost 12 hours of multiversal time-based storytelling. We’ve always seen it as we are laying the tracks for that, and where it goes and what other people want to do with it, great.”
At this point, few characters understand the need for evolution better than Loki. His Disney+ series has understood this, allowing their Variant to both echo his Sacred Timeline version’s growth and stay relevant. Sadly, it’s doubtful we’ll be lucky enough to watch Tom Hiddleston play Loki for all time, always. If his character’s journey continues past Loki Season 2, making Loki the MCU’s version of the Beyonder is a fascinating way to incorporate a fan-favorite character that is pivotal to the multiverse in a new, organic way. Certainly, it’s a more interesting proposition than yet another superpowered villain for the Avengers to fight. The twist might also give Hiddleston a way to keep playing the character as long as he wants. Loki trying to save the universe through the power of friendship might tragically backfire in his face, but isn’t something cohesive and subversive — a fresh challenge to “what makes a Loki a Loki” — more exciting?
The Loki Season 2 finale premieres this Thursday on Disney+.