When Episode 1 of “Loki” kicks off, a brief recap of the events leading up to the series plays out. After Loki is captured at the finale of “The Avengers,” we see him escorted by the superhero team to the bottom floor of Avengers tower. A disgruntled Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) causes a future Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) to drop a briefcase containing the Tesseract, which then bounces in front of Loki’s feet. The trickster grabs the cube and vanishes, disrupting the entire time heist.
We find out that this portal’s other end was in Mongolia — specifically the Gobi Desert — where Loki drops out of the sky. His head sticks out of the sand as he lays on his back, the desert’s landscape partly covering his green and gold garb. While it’s a brief moment in the episode’s intro, it’s also a major callback to the MCU property that started it all: “Iron Man.”
When Tony escapes from his captors in that film, he flies off into the sky, but he comes crashing down into the desert sand after his home-brewed suit malfunctions, breaking apart into hundreds of pieces and leaving him dazed on the ground. The shot with Loki is a nice nod to the first “Iron Man” and a pleasant parallel that depicts the aftermath of two men who have just escaped capture.