When the season finale of Loki hit Disney+ in July, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s multiverse was thrown wide open. This led viewers to wonder how events might have played out differently in other timelines or universes. And now, the Marvel animated series What If…? is satisfying that curiosity by exploring some of the wonderfully strange alternate paths the MCU could have taken.
This week’s episode will feature the God of Mischief himself, taking a look at what would have happened if he’d succeeded in taking over Earth. Of course, common wisdom tells us that would be a bad thing. But just how awful would that have been? Loki ruling over humanity isn’t an ideal scenario. However, there is some evidence to suggest he may not be as bad a ruler as we might assume.
1. Loki doesn’t truly want the throne
Let’s get philosophical for a moment. It was Socrates who said the best rulers are those who aren’t actually interested in ruling because that means they’re not motivated by a hunger for power. Yes, Loki goes to pretty extreme lengths to try to win a throne.
But being a ruler isn’t what he truly desires. All he really wants is for other people (namely Odin) to see him as worthy, to see him the way they view Thor. He wants what we all want — to be told he deserves love and acceptance. In Thor, when Loki and his brother are fighting, Loki says, “I never wanted the throne, I only ever wanted to be your equal.”
And in the Loki season finale, Sylvie and the variant version of our favorite trickster have a chance to kill Kang/He Who Remains and take over not just Earth but essentially the entire Sacred Timeline. But he tells Sylvie, “I don’t want a throne. I just…I just want you to be OK.”
Clearly, it’s not about power for Loki. And that means if he ever found himself in a position of leadership, ultimately it would not be a desire to maintain that power that would motivate him.
2. The God of Mischief has excellent planning skills
Loki is fantastic at planning. Admittedly, he’s sometimes taken off guard by the curve balls that are thrown his way. But when he has a goal in mind, he is able to see all of the steps it will take to reach it.
He knows how to play the long game. He assesses his current situation and determines the factors he can use to his advantage. We see this in Thor when he colludes with the Frost Giants, in the deal he strikes with Thanos, and in his decision to quickly befriend the Grandmaster in Thor: Ragnarok.
While he may not always plan for every contingency, he’s good at seeing the big picture and understanding how moving pieces work together. And that’s a skill that would certainly come in handy for someone trying to rule an entire planet.
3. He’s clever and sneaky
One of Loki’s defining characteristics is his sneakiness. He’s always working on his next scheme, and he rarely lets others in on his plans. He’s also a master at manipulating others, convincing them to do or say things that further his agenda without their realizing it.
Of course, if Loki were to become ruler of Earth, his human subjects would want some degree of transparency. In a world where the Avengers could come after him again, he’d probably have to learn to be at least tolerably honest with those under his rule.
But when it comes to defending Earth against powerful cosmic threats, the ability to keep plans close to the vest is actually an asset.
4. Loki genuinely cares about others
It’s true that most of the time, Loki is out for himself. The schemes he works so hard to execute nearly always put his own interests first. But at the end of the day, he’s not entirely self-centered.
We see how much he cares for Frigga, and how deeply the variant Loki cares for Sylvie and Mobius. To be completely honest, he even cares about Thor and Odin. Over the course of his time in the MCU, he has certainly had opportunities to kill Thor if he really wanted to.
How hard would it have been for someone as clever as Loki to slip a little poison into his brother’s drink during their days on Asgard? Yet he’s chosen not to do it.
And as early as Thor, he kills Laufey and declares himself “son of Odin,” a sentiment he echoes shortly before his death in Avengers: Infinity War.
If he could take the feelings he has for those closest to him and apply that sense of empathy to the people under his rule, he just might have the potential to become the “benevolent god” he says he wants to be in Thor: The Dark World.
5. Loki can be heroic when necessary
When push comes to shove, Loki knows how to show up and be a hero. In Avengers: Infinity War, for example, he hands his beloved Tesseract over to Thanos to stop him from killing Thor. Then he tries to stab Thanos, knowing how risky that choice is, and gets himself killed in his effort to stop the Mad Titan.
In Thor: Ragnarok, he shows up at the last moment, as Asgard is being destroyed, to help Thor evacuate the remaining Asgardians. And in Loki, the variant version of our hero doesn’t hesitate to help Sylvie fight Alioth. Though it might seem like he’s only out for himself, he knows how to rise to the occasion when he needs to.
While Loki ruling Earth probably isn’t anyone’s first choice, his history in the MCU suggests he may have the potential to exceed expectations. Fans of the God of Mischief will have the opportunity to see how his tenure on the throne plays out in the third episode of What If…? airing Aug. 25 on Disney+.