From the blog Super Connectivity
by Charlie Esser for the Nuff Said Podcast
Spoilers ahoy for the MCU, read with caution:
Time is a something that can be very hard to pin down. What happens first, what happens next, these seem to be simple enough ideas, but they can get pretty muddled when we talk about fiction. There is the order in which things get introduced to us, and then there is the order in which they happen in the fictional universe we are watching.
Captain America: The First Avenger comes late in the MCU, but is seemingly the first story chronologically. But even before we have the first Avenger, there were heroes stretching back millennia in Asgard, which we had only just met in Thor. Given the multi millennial life spans of Asgardians, it is likely that 80 years ago, Thor was about the same age relatively speaking that he is today. So there is nothing keeping Thor from appearing in WWII, and more importantly, he really should have.
We know that Heimdal sees all that transpires on Earth, and keeps on eye on all the things that are of import to the gods, so how did he happen to miss a human not only finding the Tesseract, but powering it up, and using its power to build highly advanced weapons? Isn’t this something that should have had Odin pop down and reclaim his rightful possession? Not only does he not reclaim the Tesseract, but he lets it lay in the hands of mortals, who continue to experiment on it for another several decades trying to reawaken it. Certainly we could just chalk it up to godly carelessness, but I think the real answer was given to us at the very end of the first Thor movie.
When the Tesseract is first revealed to audience, before it’s big debut in CA:TFA, it is in the post credits scene in Thor. At the same time as it is revealed so to is the unseen presence of Loki manipulating Dr. Selvig for the first, but not the last time. Just prior to this scene we saw Loki fall into an Abyss of the space between worlds with the destruction of the Bifrost, but moments later he is standing with Fury and Selvig watching something that Heimdal if he were earning his keep should have been watching as well.
Among the many tricks that we are shown are available to Loki are finding secret passages between the worlds, and to hide his actions from Heimdal’s watchful eyes. These gifts allowed him to sneak in Frost Giants to disrupt Thor’s coronation, and allowed him to bring Thor and company to the realm of the Dark Elves in Thor: the Dark World.
So if Loki is very long lived, has the ability to hide things even from the all seeing eyes of Heimdal, and has the ability to travel between the worlds without the aid of the Bifrost is it so hard to imagine Loki whispering in the Red Skull and Arnim Zola’s ears as he later does to Selvig? We see that in 1940 Arnim Zola using only the super science vacuum tubes and Tesla coils available to him is able to energize and manipulate the Tesseract. But later with the Tesseract in the hands of SHIELD and Howard Stark, they cannot. The Tesseract remains dormant until Loki makes his big entrance in the Avengers.
While the idea that Loki is responsible for creation of Hydra seems outside of what we normally think of, the reality is, if Loki isn’t there, why aren’t Thor and Odin? Without Loki’s cloaking of the actions of Hydra, everything we see in CA:TFA should not occur.
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier we learn that Hydra has been infiltrating and manipulating SHIELD since its very inception. While that does not require Loki’s manipulation, it certainly would be helped by it, again, especially if keeping Heimdal unaware of things like a lost Berserker staff, or the true nature of the organization protecting Jane Foster is important.
By the Avengers, Loki is presenting himself as petulant child making deals with space monsters just to acquire a throne for its own sake. But should we take the god of mischief at such face value? As part of his deal with Thanos, Loki is given a staff that some have speculated to contain the mind stone. It certainly has the power to control people’s minds, and even open them up as Dr. Selvig notes.
If the Staff Loki wields does contain the mind infinity stone that means during the Avengers he has two of the most powerful items in the universe at his disposal. The only thing standing in Loki’s way of being the sole controller of two of the Infinity stones is Thanos’ Army, something his brother and his friends are more than happy to take care for him. Once Thanos is dealt with, Loki is returned to Asgard, with the Tesseract, while the mind stone is placed in the hands of Loki’s dutiful agents in Hydra. Loki knows the convergence is coming, and with it, no doubt the return of the Dark Elves and likely as well the Aether.
The infinity stones are hidden and kept separate so that their power doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. So, in our post credits scene, leading into the Guardians of the Galaxy film, we see that the Aether is given to The Collector for safe keeping. Being the Collector of course this prompts him to want to collect them all like so many Pokemon. With the Collector doing the heavy lifting, and his brother off playing with mortals, Loki is left on Odin’s throne to prepare for his next appearance.
Whether unseen and manipulating events in GOTG, or directing his newly created Miracles awakened by the Mind stone, the connections of the MCU are all tied back to Loki.
It’s his universe, we’re just living in it.