Warning: The following article on how both Loki and Attack on Titan comment on friendship and sacrifice contains spoilers for both.
It doesn’t appear like Attack on Titan and Loki have a lot in common. However, by the time credits roll on both series, it’s clear these vastly different projects both have something important to say about friendship and the lengths people will go to ensure their loved ones are safe.
Starting with the Loki of it all is simpler, as he was introduced in 2011’s Thor, two years before Attack on Titan‘s anime debuted. Despite being a god, the Loki fans first fell in love with was a complicated figure who felt his family couldn’t understand him. And he would later learn that his feelings were justified because his father had lied to him about his lineage. This revelation pushed Loki to steal the Asgardian throne and attempt to oppress the people of Asgard and Earth, a place his brother Thor had become fond of. He was ultimately unsuccessful, but the fear he put in the residents of New York in The Avengers was a feeling Attack on Titan‘s Eren Yeager was all too familiar with.
Born within Wall Maria, one of three structures keeping humanity safe from the Titan threat, Eren lived an uneventful life until he saved a girl, Mikasa, from a group of men attempting to traffic her. He killed two of them without remorse and instructed Mikasa to take out the last one if she wanted to live. That moment began Eren’s quest for freedom, but his need to get it by any means necessary started when the Colossal Titan destroyed Wall Maria, leading to the death of his mother. When he came of age, Eren would join the Survey Corps and begin his mission to eradicate the Titans.
As Eren was getting his feet underneath him as a Scout in 2013, Loki was still reeling from his loss in the Battle of New York in Thor: The Dark World. He was stuck in an Asgardian prison, with only his mother, Frigga, showing him any affection. But just like Eren, Loki would lose his mother, and it started him on a path toward redemption. He helped his brother defeat the Dark Elves and Hela before dying at the hands of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. It seemed a fitting end for the God of Mischief, with him sacrificing himself for a noble cause, but Loki’s story was only beginning. Meanwhile, Eren’s was getting a lot more complicated.
After becoming a Scout and finding a close group of friends, including Mikasa and his childhood friend Armin, Eren discovered he was a Titan Shifter. And if that wasn’t enough to handle, he learned three of his allies were also Shifters and had been instructed to take him back to their home. Eren wouldn’t go down without a fight, though, taking down the traitors before heading off to reclaim Wall Maria and discover the truth of his powers and the outside world. The Scouts won the day, albeit at the loss of their leader, and learned that humanity still existed beyond the walls. However, the rest of the world blamed the people on the island they called “Paradis” for all the problems in the world and were oppressing the people known as Eldians. This made Eren realize freedom was not as simple as destroying the Titans, and after seeing glimpses of the future via his Titan abilities, he realized he was burdened with a destructive purpose.
As Eren clamored for freedom, Loki once again had his stripped away. As the Avengers pulled off their time heist in Avengers: Endgame, a version of the God of Mischief from the Battle of New York escaped with the Tesseract and was picked up by the Time Variance Authority, an organization tasked with keeping the Sacred Timeline together. Loki was what they called a “variant,” a version of a being that wasn’t meant to exist. He was in line to be destroyed but was spared because another version of himself was on the loose, causing mayhem. In the first season of his Disney+ series, Loki helped Agent Mobius track down his variant, Sylvie, but in the process, they uncovered the truth about the TVA and how it wasn’t what it claimed to be.
It was run by a being known as He Who Remains, who created the TVA to keep the Sacred Timeline intact in order to keep his variants from starting a multiversal war. Sylvie didn’t like what He Who Remains had to say, though, killing him and unleashing the multiverse in order to give everyone who resided in it free will. Eren, of course, could relate to Sylvie’s choice, as he also made difficult choices on his quest for freedom.
After taking the fight to his enemies in Marley, Eren roped all of his friends into the conflict and ensured the world would never see Paradis as anything but a threat. However, it soon came to light that everything that happened was part of Eren’s plan, as his memories of the future led him to start the very cycle he was attempting to break. It culminated in him starting the Rumbling, unleashing countless Colossal Titans on the world in an attempt to snuff out any threat to Paradis and its people. Rather than sit by and allow their friend to destroy the world, however, Mikasa, Armin and the rest of the Survey Corps created an alliance with Marley and the Titan Shifters and made their own difficult choice to stop their friend.
After the death of He Who Remains, Loki also had some issues with his friends in Season 2, as he was sent into the past of the TVA, where no one remembered him. He began slipping through time and had to put together that time had become unstable and the TVA was in danger of being lost. Alongside Mobius and the gang, Loki stops rogue TVA agents from destroying the multiverse and nearly creates a stable multiverse with the help of Victor Timely, a variant of He Who Remains. But it turns out it was never that simple, as He Who Remains put in a failsafe that ensured the Sacred Timeline would never be in jeopardy. It just so happened that this failsafe also led to the destruction of the TVA. That was something Loki wouldn’t allow to happen, as he openly admitted his friends were the most important thing to him.
Eren revealed a similar sentiment after his friends engaged him in combat in the Battle of Heaven and Earth. He told Armin that, after going through all of the scenarios, he figured out the only way the conflict could end was if his friends killed him, put an end to the threat of Titans for good and were seen as heroes to the world. It was never about destroying all of humanity but ensuring that his friends got to live long lives. The Rumbling, the Yeagerists and everything else were stepping stones in achieving the ultimate goal of freedom. But it was a freedom that Eren knew he would never get to experience. In that way, Eren shouldered the load of his purpose, just like Loki.
Eren and Loki started as opposites, with one wanting to oppress while the other wanted to escape oppression. But through their journeys, they realized what was really important to them and became comparable figures. As Kenny Ackerman so eloquently put it in Attack on Titan‘s third season, “Everyone had to be drunk on somethin’ to keep pushing on.” Loki and Eren made friendship their drink of choice.