A lot is going on in the final minutes of the Loki series finale. Not only does — spoilers past this point — Loki (Tom Hiddleston) save the multiverse by destroying the Time Variance Authority (TVA) Loom, but he also seemingly turns into a tree. Loktree, if you will. Or at least, he creates a tree that may or may not be Yggdrasil, the World Tree.
We’ve already gone in-depth on the Loki ending explained, but if you’re looking for more of an explanation of what is up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) multiverse with what looks like the (re)introduction of Yggdrasil, we’ve got you covered.
What Is Yggdrasil in Norse Mythology?
Before we get into MCU mythology — and Loki — let’s talk Norse mythology. Yggdrasil is a concept that stretches back to the 13th century (at least in terms of recorded history), and was an enormous tree that spanned the known universe. In it were nine worlds, which are the different realms of Norse myths.
Ratatoskr, a squirrel, runs up and down the branches and roots of the tree, passing messages from one realm to another. At the bottom, Níðhöggr, a wyrm (aka a dragon) gnaws at its roots, making the tree feel pain. That’s because the Norse lived in the dark for most of the year, and a lot of their myths are really gruesome! Just saying.
What Is Yggdrasil in Marvel Comics?
The World Tree exists in the Marvel Comics source material, albeit in a slightly simplified form. It’s still a tree connecting the Nine Realms, including Midgard (aka, Earth). There’s still a squirrel (named Ratatosk), and there’s still a serpent (named Jormungandr). In Norse myths, Jormungandr also exists, but is a different serpent — he lives in the sea and is biting his own tail.
Marvel Comics simplified it a bit, and Jormungandr instead is the serpent wrapped around the base of the World Tree. He is prophesied to kill Thor and bring about Ragnarok, the end of days. That actually happens at one point, too! It was pretty cool.
Yggdrasil In The MCU: A Timeline
In the MCU, Yggdrasil is different — at least until now. The concept was first introduced in 2011’s Thor when Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is godsplaining how the universe works to Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). He lays out that what looks like magic to regular folks is actually science to the highly advanced people of Asgard. He also explains that the concept of Yggdrasil the World Tree is not an actual tree. Rather, it’s a loose confederation of nine galactic clusters, including our solar system (aka Earth) and Asgard, that make up the Nine Realms. To illustrate the point he draws a tree around the map of the known universe (according to the Asgardians). The branches, as they were, are the teleportation roads between each of these planets.
Later (though much earlier in the MCU timeline, since it happens in 1942) in Captain America: The First Avenger, when Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) is capturing the Tesseract, he looks at a mural of Yggdrasil. There it is once again drawn as a tree, which is what happened when humans turned the “reality” of the Nine Realms into myth.
And now, as of the Loki Season 2, it’s a tree. Maybe.
Yggdrasil In Loki: Is Loki A Tree Now? A Loktree, If You Will?
Towards the end of Loki Season 2, Loki blows up the Loom that has been keeping the multiverse in check. He reignites the various branches of the multiverse, whatever he can gather. And then brings them all up to the former seat of He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors), sits down, and continues to keep the multiverse powered through sheer will alone for the rest of time.
As he does this, the formerly sideways depiction of the timelines is now reoriented ninety degrees so it’s funneling up and down. At first, it looks like an hourglass because: “time.” And then it starts to bloom and clearly turns into a tree.
Immediately after that, we cut to the TVA, which has a new mission: protect the tree. They are no longer pruning the timeline, they’re now allowing it to grow, complete with posters touting: “Let’s grow together; Nurture our nature for a stable future.”
So is Loki a tree now? Is the multiverse Yggdrasil?
Well… No on both counts. Loki is, sadly, not Loktree. He’s just a regular, extraordinarily powerful being who may be the God of Time or God of Stories, depending on what you want to call him. He is not a tree, nor is the multiverse a literal tree. Instead, it’s a collection of timelines being powered entirely by Loki, who is doomed to sit on his throne forever. Glorious purpose, indeed.
Meanwhile, though the timelines look like a tree, it’s not Yggdrasil. At least, not until Kevin Feige says it is. Yggdrasil, as previously established, is the collection of Nine Realms including Asgard, Earth, and seven more. This is more of a visual shout-out to Yggdrasil than anything else, perhaps something Loki created that reminds him of home. It’s also a clear rejoinder/connection to the whole pruning of branches thing the TVA did before Loki arrived.
So while it walks like a Yggdrasil, and talks like a Yggdrasil, this new multiverse tree is not Yggdrasil. You can keep calling it Loktree, though, because that’s pretty fun.