Academy Award winner Ke Huy Quan appears in a major role in season two of Loki. The Everything Everywhere All At Once and Indiana Jones actor just can’t get enough of stories about the multiverse, it seems. His name is Ouroboros, or O.B. for short. But how does Ke Huy Quan’s Loki character tie into the existing Marvel Comics lore? And how does Ouroboros relate to existing mythological roots in our own world? Here’s what we know so far about Ke Huy Quan’s Ouroboros and his role in Marvel’s Loki season two.
The Ouroboros in Folklore and Norse Mythology’s Jörmungandr
You’ve no doubt heard the turn of phrase “the snake eating its own tail.” Well, that particular iconography comes straight from ancient mythology. That snake consuming its own tail is actually called the Ouroboros, and is found in the mythologies of ancient Egypt and Greece. According to Britannica, “[The Ouroboros] represents a being that is continually devouring itself, and thus reborn from itself. A gnostic and alchemical symbol, Ouroboros expresses the unity of all things, material and spiritual, which never disappear but perpetually change form in an eternal cycle of destruction and re-creation.” The Ouroboros is a fitting mythological reference to invoke in the MCU’s Loki which is all about questions of the destruction, creation, and flow of timelines.
Although the character Ke Huy Quan plays on Loki season two has the name Ouroboros, he might also have ties to a more specific character from mythology, one that even more directly related to our titular God of Mischief. In Norse mythology, the snake that consumes its own tail, a.k.a an Ouroboros, goes by the name Jörmungandr. This Ouroboros is also known as the Midgard Serpent or the World Serpent. In the old Norse myths, Jörmungandr encircles the realm of Midgard, which is another name for Earth. He is the son of Loki and the giantess Angrboða. He’s also the brother of the great wolf Fenrir and Hel. During Ragnarök, a.k.a, the Twilight of the Gods, Thor kills him.
In the pages of Marvel Comics, the Midgard Serpent has played a big role in several Thor comics. He first appeared back in 1966 and reappeared again and again over the years to fight the God of Thunder. Although the Odinson slays the gigantic beast, Marvel resurrects him more than a few times, and the two battle all over again.
When it comes to a connection with Loki, the god of mischief does ride the Midgard Serpent at one point. But there is never any real indication that Marvel Comics’ version of this Ouroboros is in any way the literal child of Loki. Marvel writers often play fast and loose with Norse myths, changing many things outright. This is another example of that. It will be interesting to see, however, what Loki season two does with the mythological origins of Ouroboros as the show continues to remix and reference mythology.
Ke Huy Quan’s Loki Character O.B./Ouroboros and His Marvel Comics Connections
Ke Huy Quan’s Ouroboros might be an original creation for the MCU series, not based on a preexisting Marvel Comics character. However, his name does pop up in several comics from the past. And in different forms.
The only Marvel Ouroboros with ties to the TVA is a certain Mr. Orobourous, who made one appearance in a She-Hulk comic in 2005. Created by Dan Slott, Orobourous was a judge for the Time Variance Authority. In Marvel’s She-Hulk comic, Orobourous is spelled a bit differently than the traditional Ouroboros of mythology, but the reference seems to be the same. This character was also a clone of Mr. Paradox, who himself was a clone of several TVA bureaucrats. We already know the O.B. is not a judge in Loki, but it seems the creators took a shine to the name at least.
But She-Hulk‘s judge is not the only Ouroboros in Marvel lore. First, there was the Oculus Ouroboros, which was not a person in Marvel Comics, per se, but a conduit of elemental magic, that depicts a variation on the classic Ouroboros shape of a snake eating its tail by featuring a second snake. It first appears in Doctor Strange #92, back in 1993. The Sorcerer Supreme stops an attempt by Doctor Doom to gain access to its power.
An actual character using the name is Admiral Ouroboros. He made his first Marvel Comics appearance relatively recently in 2015’s Silver Surfer #11. He battled the former Herald of Galactus during an adventure where the Surfer became stuck in a time loop.
The most recent Marvel usage of the name Ouroboros appeared in 2022, in Marvel’s Contest of Champions. In this instance, Ouroboros is an organization in universe 517. This organization came together to oppose the rule of the Elders of the Universe across the reality called Battlerealm.
However, despite all these possible references, we think it’s unlikely that Loki’s O.B. is directly related to the previous Marvel concepts of Ouroboros. It’s far more likely the MCU’s Ouroboros is riffing on one or more of the mythological histories of the creature.
Ke Huy Quan’s O.B./Ouroboros in the MCU and Loki Season Two
The version of Ouroboros played by Ke Huy Quan in Loki is an integral part of the TVA. He’s just someone who rarely gets a visit from other TVA employees. He’s been toiling away, quite literally without sleeping, in the Repairs and Advancement department. O.B.’s office is stuffed in the TVA’s basement. It’s a sprawling mishmash of all kinds of mechanical parts and different inventions. Mobius takes Loki to help with his time-slipping problem. O.B., a nickname for Ouroboros we learn Loki gave to him when he time-slipped into the past, becomes invaluable in helping them. In episode two of Loki, O.B. gives Mobius and Loki the TVA Guidebook to help them.
Here’s How O.B. Connects to Victor Timely and Kang on Loki
In the fourth episode of Loki’s second season, “Heart of the TVA,” O.B. and Victor Timely meet at last. In fact, their meeting reveals an actual ouroboros of sorts for the pair. Timely was taken aback at meeting the man who wrote the TVA Handbook, the book that he received as a child, which inspired all his inventions and career. O.B., meanwhile, was having his own fanboy moment meeting Victor Timely. The man who inspired him to write the Handbook in the first place. As O.B. said, their meeting was “the snake eating its tail.”
Loki’s co-executive producer Kevin Wright said that O.B. is integral to the functioning of the Time Variance Authority. Even if we never saw or heard of Ouroboros in season one of the MCU show. Wright said, “His job is basically every piece of tech, every computer, everything that is running at the TVA… He either designed it, or he fixes it and keeps it running.” None of that sounds remotely like the Marvel Comics versions of Ouroboros. So far, it seems as if the MCU’s O.B. is tied far more to the mythological concept of the character than anything in the comics.
Hopefully, we’ll soon learn more secrets about Ke Huy Quan as O.B. when Loki season two continues on Disney+.
Originally published on October 2, 2023.