Over the last 13 years of Marvel's groundbreaking cinematic universe, the studio has given its heroes some truly tragic stories. Even considering examples like Bucky Barnes' HYDRA possession and Wanda Maximoff's tale of love and loss, arguably no story is more tragic than that of Thor and Loki.
The two Asgardian brothers have seen great loss throughout their long lives through family and friends, including Loki himself having seemingly died multiple times. While the tragedy of Thor's life starts as his MCU tenure begins, Loki's long predates this having been born a runt Frost Giant, abandoned by Laufey, and adopted into Asgardian royalty.
Throughout his childhood, the God of Mischief struggled with being the second-best child in Odin's eye as Thor was always the one destined to one day take the throne of Asgard, despite how much Loki may have wanted it.
As the Loki variant present in his Disney+ series comes from directly after the events of The Avengers, he may never experience many of the things his Sacred Timeline prime self had to with the deaths of Frigga and Odin being defining moments for the character.
The series premiere focused greatly on the psyche behind Tom Hiddleston's character as he was forced to rewatch all the worst moments of his life in a montage compiled by the TVA. Making him endure this acted as a great way to allow viewers to better understand Loki as it revealed the motivations behind his villainous actions.
After making her debut at the end of Loki's second episode, the third installment of the Disney+ series properly introduced viewers to Sylvie, a female variant of the God of Mischief with an anti-TVA agenda and some unique enchanting powers.
While “Lamentis” avoided offering many specifics on Sylvie's history, it provided plenty of evidence to suggest she has lived a life arguably more tragic than Hiddleston's Loki.
WHY DID SYLVIE DITCH THE LOKI NAME?
Previous episodes of Loki have revealed that the TVA is on the hunt for a variant of the God of Mischief that is attacking their Minute Men. While Sophia Di Martino's character is indeed a female Loki variant as promised, she no longer goes by the name as she tells Hiddleston's character not to “ever call [her] that:”
LOKI: “You're not the only tech-savvy Loki.”
SYLVIE: “Don't ever call me that.”
SYLVIE: “No, a Loki.”
After having spent a lifetime running from capture by the TVA, “Lamentis” revealed Sylvie's distaste for the term "variant" as she says in an outburst of rage “don't call me variant.” Additionally, while Sylvie no longer goes by her Asgardian name, it's made clear that she did at one point as she tells Loki “that's not who [she is] anymore:”
LOKI: “Slow down...variant!”
SYLVIE: “What part of imminent death confuses you? And don't call me variant.”
LOKI: “I'm sorry, but I'm not calling some faded photocopy of me Loki.”
SYLVIE: “Good, because that's not who I am anymore. I'm Sylvie now”
Given Sylvie has been on the run for many years at this point, it makes sense that she would go by a fake name as she travels through time in order to avoid detection. However, choosing an alternate name for Di Martino's variant is also a smart logistical choice by the writers to avoid having multiple characters going by the same name, which could become confusing for some viewers.
WHO ARE SYLVIE'S PARENTS?
Sylvie's debut made a point of avoiding specifically naming her parents, but it does acknowledge that, like Loki, she was adopted. While Hiddleston's character didn't find out he was an adopted Frost Giant until the age of 1046, Sylvie was aware of her true heritage all along:
LOKI: “She was a Queen of Asgard. She was good. Purely decent.”
SYLVIE: “Are you sure she was your mother?”
LOKI: “Oh, no, she's not actually. I was adopted. Is that a bit of a spoiler for you? Sorry about that.”
SYLVIE: “No, I knew I was adopted.”
Even though the series has so far dodged specific names when it comes to Sylvie's family, it can be assumed her early life was similar to Hiddleston's version in that she was born a Frost Giant before being adopted into Asgardian royalty. However, her life appears to have had some majors differences as she says she can “barely remember” her mother, only having “blips of a dream at this point:”
LOKI: “Hang on a second. So, tell...tell me about your mother”
SYLVIE: “I barely remember her. Just blips of a dream at this point.”
While Odin neglected the mischievous child throughout his life, continually prioritizing his oldest son Thor, Loki built a strong bond with his mother that turned him into the powerful magician he became. The lack of this strong mother figure in her life may have made for a much tougher upbringing and a tougher family bond.
Additionally, assuming Frigga is the mother in question, her absence in Sylvie's life would leave her lacking a witch to teach her magic as she did with Loki. Due to this, it seems the variant “taught [herself]” her enchanting abilities and other magical powers:
LOKI: “So, where'd you learn to do the... You know, the... Whatever it is?”
SYLVIE: “I taught myself.”
LOKI: “You taught yourself that magic?”
SYLVIE: “Yeah, I did.
While the two variants discussed their parents, no mention was made of Thor. It'd certainly be interesting to discover what kind of relationship the God of Thunder would have with a female Loki growing up.
Despite this assumption of Sylvie having grown up in Asgard, there are reasons to doubt whether this is in fact the life she has lived. It seems doubtful that the all-powerful Odin would allow the TVA to capture or reset his adopted child without a fight.
Based on this, one could assume that Sylvie was either cast out from Asgard at a young age, or she may have instead been adopted by another family altogether.
WHEN DID SYLVIE BECOME A VARIANT?
Given variants are created by straying from the course of the Sacred Timeline, where exactly Sylvie became a variant of Loki is a major question. Whatever event may have caused the timeline to branch, the episode makes clear it happened at a young age as she tells Loki she has “spent [her] entire life running” from the TVA:
LOKI: “When did you get so paranoid?”
SYLVIE: “It must have started when I spent my entire life running from the omniscient fascists you work for.”
Earlier episodes revealed that many Loki variants exist in a variety of different forms, so it's possible that much like the others, the exact origin behind Sylvie may never be revealed in the Disney+ series. However, this would certainly be a missed opportunity to further develop a character with strong potential, both within Loki and the MCU going forward.
Within Marvel Comics, Sylvie Lushton was a normal human woman who woke up one day with powers thanks to Loki himself. Under the name of Enchantress, Lushton has spent some time as a member of the Avengers in the past, so it's possible Sophia Di Martino may have a larger Marvel future than expected.
WHAT MAKES SYLVIE'S LIFE TO TRAGIC?
Unlike Hiddleston's Loki, who grew up comfortably in Asgardian royalty, Sylvie has spent her entire life on the run from the TVA being persecuted for her very nature, something that was totally out of her control.
Sylvie's desperate desire for revenge against the TVA for taking her life away appears to be what is driving her plan to take down the Time-keepers and destroy the bueaucratic organization. Despite knowing that the TVA's agents and Minute Men are variants just like her, she seems to have no problem with murdering many of them.
With only three episodes of Loki released so far, it remains hard to tell whether Sylvie is the villain of the story. The series' latest episode strongly suggested the TVA could in fact be the surprise antagonists of the piece, however, this could just as easily be an effort to make viewers sympathize with the motivations of Di Martino's character.
Loki's first three episodes are streaming on Disney+ now.