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Things We Saw Today: That Surprise Loki Cameo Was Actually Based on a Norse Myth

Tom Hiddleston as Loki in 'Loki' episode 4

Fans of the Thor movies were thrilled to see Jaimie Alexander reprise her role as Lady Sif on Loki episode 4, “The Nexus Event.” After Mobius (Owen Wilson) puts Loki (Tom Hiddleston) into a special TVA cell to cool his heels, Sif appears there in a time loop.

They’re in a memory from Loki’s past, where Sif berates Loki for cutting off her hair as a prank, kicks him, and tells him that he’ll always be alone. While this scene is an MCU creation, it’s actually inspired by a much, much older story straight out of Norse mythology.

Marvel’s Norse-based characters like Loki, Sif, Thor, Heimdall, and Odin are as about as “accurate” mythologically speaking as Wonder Woman is an Amazonian daughter of Zeus. But the comics characters—and now movie/TV folks—do have many of the attributes, powers, and even personalities of the deities and supernatural beings out of myth.

Loki cutting Sif’s hair has also been worked into Marvel Comics in the past, and the two have more recent comics history where Loki is reborn into a body intended for Sif, leading to the first appearance of Lady Loki.

The story of Loki cutting Sif’s hair while she sleeps is an important one in Norse mythology. After he does so, Sif is despondent, and everyone else is furious. In an attempt to make amends in the face of outrage, Loki promises he’ll get her new golden hair made. Along the way he causes the Dwarfs of Nidavellir to create some of the most powerful weapons for the Gods, including Thor’s hammer Mjolnir and Odin’s spear Gungnir.

So even though this began as a Loki-the-trickster causing mischief and mayhem sort of situation, in the mythology, it’s a vital development for the Gods in the longrun. The MCU also incorporated Nidavellir and bits of this myth into Infinity War by having Thor meet with one of the very Dwarfs from the story, Eitri (played in the movie by Peter Dinklage), who forges the ax Stormbreaker for him.

Loki cuts Sif's hair in Marvel Comics

Also holding true for the Lokis we know across the ages right on up to Loki, the move to cut Sif’s hair was motivated by his general petulance concerning Thor. In Norse mythology, Thor and Sif are married, just as she’s often more of a love interest for Thor in the comics. As one telling of the myth relays:

It was Loki, the god of fire and mischief, who cast this sleeping spell on Sif. He found her dozing with her gorgeous hair flowing all around her, and his evil mouth smiled at this chance to make trouble in the Thunder-God’s household. He knew that Sif’s hair of gold was Thor’s greatest treasure – and he was determined to take it away from him.

And while she was asleep, Loki took his shears and chopped off Sif’s hair, every single lovely lock!

This, of course, infuriates Thor, who causes Odin to hold Loki accountable for what he’s done, or in some tellings, makes Loki do so himself:

When Thor discovers this, he grabs hold of Loki, resulting in Loki swearing to have a headpiece made of gold to replace Sif’s locks. Loki fulfills this promise by having a headpiece made by dwarfs, the Sons of Ivaldi. Along with the headpiece, the dwarfs produced Odin’s spear, Gungnir. As the story progresses, the incident leads to the creation of the ship Skíðblaðnir and the boar Gullinbursti for Freyr, the multiplying ring Draupnir for Odin, and the mighty hammer Mjöllnir for Thor.

Meanwhile, in Marvel Cinematic Universe land, Jaimie Alexander is clearly having fun with her return as Sif. “‘Asgard is not a place. It’s a people…’ and one of them is a giant A-hole #Loki ⚔️🛡,” she wrote on Instagram, quoting Odin’s line to Thor in Ragnarok, tagging her location as “Asgard” and showing the hair-cutting up close.


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A post shared by Jaimie Alexander (@jaimiealexander)

Sif, of course, has a very different personality in more modern comics and in the MCU than she does in mythology or early Thor comic runs. She’s now a badass shield maiden, a fearsome warrior, and in the movies, one of Thor’s best friends. She never had much time for Loki or his antics, which makes her appearance an even more choice cameo and extra hilarious.

But as entertaining as it might be to watch Sif castigate Loki again and again, her role there also serves to remind Loki how hollow and narcissistic some of his past choices were and to grapple with what Sif claims—that he’ll always be alone. It’s an essential part of the emotional journey of the episode.

This surprise appearance was a special treat to longtime Marvel-watchers. Not only is Sif a fan favorite, but Alexander hasn’t been seen as Sif in a film since 2013’s Thor: The Dark World (though she did guest-star on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D).

We’re thrilled to know she’s headed back to the Thorverse for Thor: Love and Thunder. Her appearance on Loki also serves as a reminder to fans old and new of Sif’s presence and role in Asgard. Now if she could only end up as Valkyrie’s new Queen …

(image: Marvel Studios/Disney+, Marvel Comics)

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Kaila is a lifelong New Yorker. She's written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.