Warning: Major, major spoilers from the ending of Avengers: Endgame ahead.
A lot of people came back from the dead during Avengers: Endgame that it can be hard to keep track of who is alive and who is still dead at this point. Everyone who Thanos (Josh Brolin) dusted in Avengers: Infinity War is back, thanks to Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) snapping his own Infinity Gauntlet and essentially hitting the undo button on all of Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) hard work (suck it, giant purple meanie). But everyone who died in Infinity War pre-Thanos’ snap is still dead (except Zoe Saldana's Gamora thanks to some time travel). But what about the other Asgardian, who appears a few times in the new movie? Did Loki (Tom Hiddleston) end up alive in Endgame?
Loki’s fate by the end of Endgame is kind of confusing, so it’s understandable if you’re unclear on that aspect. During the Avengers’ trip to the past for the time heist of the Infinity Stones, a few of them revisited the Battle of New York from 2012’s The Avengers. We actually got to see some new footage of the aftermath, as the Avengers coordinated with S.H.I.E.L.D. on what to do with the Tesseract and Loki. We already knew that Thor took Loki back to Asgard to face justice for what he did. But in Endgame, an accidental mistake from the time traveling Avengers (thanks to Hulk’s hatred of stairs and love of smashing) resulted in Loki getting his hands on the Tesseract and escaping to... somewhere.
We don’t know where he teleported to or what he planned to do after that. It’s easy to assume that his escape with the Tesseract changed his fate, just as Gamora’s time traveling changed hers. But unfortunately, the evidence is there in Endgame to prove why Loki is still dead in the MCU's present day.
When the Avengers were discussing how time travel would work, they introduced new rules despite having lots of sci-fi pop culture working against them. In the MCU, time travel works differently than in Back to the Future or any other movie or TV show. When you go into the past, you can’t change your present or future. Your time in the past becomes your present, and your past can’t be changed. Time isn’t a loop but rather a straight line, relative to your experience.
Add to that the fact that, when all the action was said and done, Captain America (Chris Evans) then went back to the past to return each Infinity Stone to the moment in which they were stolen, returning the timeline to how it was originally. That means Loki never got his hands on the Tesseract, and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) did still take him back to Asgard. The past events continued to unfold exactly as we’ve seen in all the MCU films, right up until the moment in Infinity War when Thanos killed Loki.
But what does this mean for the new Disney streaming service Disney+ Loki series? The Hollywood Reporter previously reported that the new series is actually a prequel to Loki’s arc in the MCU, following “Loki as the trickster and shape-shifter pops up throughout human history as an unlikely influencer on historical events.” Hiddleston is expected to star, although some are wondering if he’s only going to narrate the series while another actor plays the fan-favorite character as a younger version. Either way, the events of Endgame haven’t changed those plans. Because as we’ve learned, you can’t change your past!