‘Loki’ Isn’t the First Marvel Studios Project to Have a Villain as the Main Character

For a full decade, Marvel fans have obsessed over Tom Hiddleston’s layered performance as Loki. And with the character getting his very own Disney+ show, the god of mischief will finally get the chance to claim the spotlight for himself. Still, as fans speculate what Loki might face next, it’s worth noting the series isn’t the first Marvel Studios project focused on a villain.

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige stands onstage in front of the Marvel Studios logo
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige stands onstage in front of the Marvel Studios logo | Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

‘Loki’ follows a time-hopping Tom Hiddleston after ‘Avengers: Endgame’

First of all, Loki has always alternated between a full-on villain and a reluctant hero. From 2011’s Thor on, he’s almost exclusively driven by his own interests. And on occasion, those seem to coincide with what the heroes — most notably, his brother Thor (Chris Hemsworth) — are trying to accomplish. But the new Disney+ series picks up his arc from an intriguing place in the timeline.

The Avengers saw Loki at the height of his villainy. And while fans watched the journey that led him to sacrifice his life in an effort to save Thor, the new series picks up with Loki soon after he lost the Battle of New York. So already, there’s a tension about whether he will continue down this dark path or find an alternate way to the redemption fans know he is capable of achieving.

RELATED: ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’: MCU Fans Can’t Imagine the Movie Without Tom Hiddleston’s Loki

Marvel Studios made a villain the main character only once time before

Ironically, the only other time Marvel Studios dabbled in a story focused on a villain, the possibility for redemption was basically non-existent. For six years, the MCU had hyped up Thanos (Josh Brolin). And in 2018, Avengers: Infinity War delivered a story that put the Mad Titan at the forefront. Ahead of the movie’s release, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige admitted as much.

“In a movie that has a lot of characters, you could almost go so far as to say [Thanos] is the main character, and that’s a bit of a departure from what we’ve done before, but that was appropriate for a movie called Infinity War,” Feige said, according to Collider. To be fair, the comics arc the film is based on, The Infinity Gauntlet, originally put Thanos’ name above the title.

Likewise, co-director Joe Russo — according to Wired — has revealed the film positions Thor and Thanos as sort of dueling protagonists. And if Thor had won in the end, he would have been the hero of Avengers: Infinity War. But while it’s a dark tale for the heroes (and viewers), it still represents a victory from Thanos’ perspective, making its quiet ending all the more ominous.

RELATED: Marvel’s Tom Hiddleston Claims This ‘Thor’ Scene Turned Loki into a Villain; Is He Right?

Will other Marvel villains lead their own movies or shows in the near future?

The success of Avengers: Infinity War likely emboldened Marvel Studios to take a chance on another, more blatantly villain-led project. If Loki gets a similarly positive response, it could pave the way for more. After all, the Marvel universe is filled with complex villains just waiting for the spotlight.

For instance, rumors claim Doctor Doom could receive a spinoff either before or after the inevitable Fantastic Four reboot. But the X-Men are also coming to the MCU at some point. So it’s possible baddies like Magneto or Mystique could lead their own movies or Disney+ shows at some point.