A previous version of Thor: Ragnarok ended with Tom Hiddleston's Loki hiding on Jotunheim with the Tesseract. The adopted brother of Thor and god of mischief has been a fan-favorite character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since he debuted in 2011's Thor. His increased popularity made it nearly impossible for Marvel Studios to let him go. They faked his death multiple times in the lead up to Avengers: Infinity War, where Thanos killed him properly and declared, "No resurrections this time."
Ironically, that will not hold as Loki will return to star in his own Disney+ show thanks to the branched timelines created in Avengers: Endgame. This version of Loki will be very different than the ones audiences have watched in recent years, though. Loki grew from being a villain to become a true ally to Thor and Asgard - even if he still had a few tricks up his sleeves. His final one was stealing the Tesseract from Asgard, and that decision proved to be what cost him his life in Infinity War. But, Thanos went a step further by slaughtering some of the remaining Asgardians on the ship too.
This was all set up by the ending of Thor: Ragnarok, where Loki stood by Thor's side as they contemplated a trip back to Earth before Thanos arrived. However, new concept art featured in The Art of Avengers: Endgame shows that this was not always the plan. In the Unused Concepts section of the book, art by Tim Hill illustrates how Infinity War planned to pick up with Loki based on an alternate draft of Thor: Ragnarok. Here's the excerpt from the book detailing Loki's escape to Jotunheim, followed by concept art of Thanos' arrival in Infinity War.
In an alternate draft of Thor: Ragnarok, the film's climax had a different path for Loki. After he took the Tesseract from the Asgardian palace vault, he decided to sneak away from the refugee ship instead of helping Thor relocate the displaced citizens of Asgard. It wouldn't be until Avengers: Infinity War that audiences would learn that Loki traveled to Jotunheim to hide both the Tesseract and himself from Thanos. The Mad Titan finds him anyway. In this alternate version, Loki's fate would have remained the same: falling at the hands of Thanos.
Thor: Ragnarok went through plenty of changes after Taika Waititi decided to direct the film, so it is unclear if this ending was part of the original script or an alternate ending he considered. In either case, this simple change would have significant ramifications on Avengers: Infinity War. While Loki still would've died and Thanos still acquired the Space Stone, this would've happened in a more intimate setting. It's possible that Thor may not even know that Loki died unless Thanos told him, but he wouldn't witness his death in this version.
Additionally, this could indicate that Thor, Hulk, and more wouldn't have crossed paths with Thanos when they did. In this instance, Thor and the Asgardians may have no idea what Thanos is doing, as they would no longer be targets of the Mad Titan. While this could be good news for the Asgardians Thanos' children murdered, it may have been worse fo the galaxy. Without their encounter with Thanos, Bruce Banner never would've been sent back to Earth to warn the heroes of the threat he posed. Maybe this is where early plans for Nova to have this role came from.
For Loki, though, this version of his death could've then potentially been an attempt to be a hero. He understands that he and the Tesseract are targets based on the description of the scene and the history from The Avengers. If he purposefully fled to Jotunheim at the end of Thor: Ragnarok, he might have been able to prevent the doom that came to the Asgardians. He knew he wouldn't be able to hide from Thanos forever and instead goes to his original homeworld to await his fate. In the end, Avengers: Infinity War's death for Loki worked.
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