Ravonna Renslayer

Since the very first episode of Loki, Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) has been a problem. She begins the series with immense disdain for our hero — which, we’ll be honest, is pretty fair. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) does have a tendency for chaos and betrayal, and if I ran a tightly wound bureaucratic agency, that is not the kind of energy I’d want in my office. But even beyond her very reasonable issues with the God of Mischief, the TVA was inherently suspicious, making her an eventual villain to confront.

As the series progressed we got a little more insight and plenty of suspicions to go with it. All along, Ravonna knew more than she was letting on. We should’ve known Ravonna would end up with a larger role in the series: you can’t cast an actress like Gugu Mbatha-Raw for a couple of trial and exposition scenes. Going into full villain territory was inevitable.

Sure enough, Ravonna reveals herself to be a significant player and leaves season 1 on a mission with major implications. As speculation for season 2 of Loki begins, it’s always helpful to see what we can learn from the vast collection of Marvel comics. They are the key to understanding everything from the Timekeepers to Ravonna herself.

Major spoilers for Loki follow.

Who Is Ravonna Renslayer?

First introduced in 1965’s Avengers #24, Ravonna is a princess from the far-off 40th century, whose empire is conquered by Kang. The time-traveling conqueror goes by many names and takes various forms, including that of Jonathan Majors in the season finale of Loki. Though this iteration of Kang is killed by Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino), it’s with the promise that many of him will return.

In the comics, Ravonna begins as a love interest for time-traveler Kang. After conquering her empire, he falls in love with her and plots a way to get his feelings returned. Eventually falling for him, Ravonna is a dedicated paramour, who leaps in front of a laser blast to save her beloved. Through a series of time-bending actions, reminiscent to that of Loki, Kang jumps back in time to grab his princess the moment before the laser strikes. But while he searches for a way to save her life, she is frozen in stasis.

When Kang enters a game with the Grandmaster (who MCU fans will remember as Jeff Goldblum in Thor: Ragnorak), he is forced to choose between saving Ravonna’s life or having the power to kill the Avengers. He opts for the most supervillain option but loses his chance at both. However the Grandmaster revives Ravonna anyway — and she’s not happy to learn that Kang chose vengeance over her life.

Ravonna dedicates herself to revenge and her schemes are elaborate. Her plan involves manipulation, disguises (she once takes the form of Nebula), manipulating the Avengers, fighting the Fantastic Four and eventually, taking Kang on in combat. She wins and becomes the ruler of his time-spanning empire…before the empire is destroyed in a war that kills her.

Ravonna Renslsyer In Loki Season 2

In the comics, Ravonna’s relationship with Kang is complicated. Their tale of romance derails into a scorned mission for revenge: it’s quite possible that her Loki story follows suit. Though she doesn’t have a romance with He Who Remains, she does devote her life to his work. Even knowing some of the truth behind the TVA (certainly more than her co-workers), Ravonna continues the mission.

When Mobius (Owen Wilson), her friend for many eons, steps in the way of the plan, she doesn’t hesitate to have him sent to the end of time. Thankfully, she doesn’t repeat her actions in the Loki finale, and spares Mobius’ life — but she refuses his offer to rebuild the TVA into something better. She opts instead to leave, potentially in search of Kang, to continue the work she started.

Should she find him, her story could branch off in any number of ways. Perhaps they have their romance after all. Or maybe whichever version of Kang she encounters will only receive her hatred. Either way, their stories feel inextricably tied. And given her dedication and many manipulations, Ravonna has proven herself a force to be reckoned with.

What Is Ravonna Searching For?

In the season finale of Loki, Ravonna defeats Mobius and opens a time portal. Before she goes through, Mobius asks where she’ll go and she answers cryptically: “in search of free will.”

It’s not entirely clear what she means by this. By her own admission, Ravonna doesn’t see free will as a virtue, at least not if everyone has it. She tells Mobius that the only person who gets free will is the person in charge — in this case, her He Who Remains.

In a previous scene, Miss Minute appears to Ravonna and offers files that He thought would be useful. This seems to happen in tandem with his conversation with Loki and Sylvie — which he knows may end in his death. So what would he send Ravonna in that moment?

It’s quite possibly the same information he gives to her least favorite variants: the truth about why he built the TVA and what will become of the timeline without his work. She later tells Mobius that without them pruning the timeline, there would be nothing but chaos and death. But she still seems in the dark about the finer details.

Head writer Michael Waldron recently noted that Ravonna’s motivations are complicated (Marvel.com). He said:

“She has the making of a very complex villain that has her own set of principles and beliefs that drive her. She doesn’t believe that what she’s doing is evil. She believes that the mission is for greater good, and Renslayer probably wishes that she never learned that the Time Keepers were fake, that they had just been able to keep doing this forever.”

So the one thing we know for sure: Ravonna still wants answers. She still believes in the TVA’s work and its necessity. She understands that without them, and with the universe branching off, chaos reigns supreme. For what it’s worth, the TVA gave her a purpose and her dedication to that work remains strong.

All 6 episodes of Loki are streaming now on Disney+.

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