Loki picks up right where Avengers: Endgame left off and manages to capture the Marvel spirit in Marvel’s third live-action series on Disney+.
This series is so much different in tone from both WandaVision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. It’s the thing I love abut the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The studio releases films and series that are completely different in tone but at the end of the day, they’re in the same universe. Isn’t that awesome?
I’m going to keep this light on spoilers because that’s the best way you should watch any MCU product. All you need to know is that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) gets arrested after the Time Variance Authority (TVA) discovers him after he uses the Tesseract following the Battle of New York. Loki does misbehave shortly after his arrest but again, this is the 2012 version that didn’t grow into the anti-hero he would become in Thor: Ragnarok. Again, I’m not going to get into spoiler territory but one of the things that I was interested in seeing was if Loki would be the same villain from 2012 or somehow transition to the anti-hero from 2017-18. Of course, I also know the answer from watching. You’ll just have to tune in and see!
The first episode has a lot riding on it. It has to do two things: pick up Loki’s story and set up the TVA. Who are the TVA and why are they so interested in Loki? A quick video takes care of the former. They exist outside the timeline. As for the latter, well, he broke the timeline. Loki isn’t supposed to have picked up the Tesseract. No matter how many times he places the blame on the Avengers, it isn’t their fault. According to the Time Keepers, traveling through time is something that is supposed to happen! Because of Loki’s actions, he becomes a fish-out-of-water so to speak. You could argue that he is a man out of time. All the time traveling in Avengers: Endgame makes my head hurt so I’m not even going to think about all the science that comes with what happens.
The second episode sees both Loki and Mobius (Owen Wilson) working together. Mobius sees something in Loki that he thinks will help with solving a variant case. Marvel describes the series as a crime-thriller meets epic-adventure. I can certainly see this but of course, I really want to see more than just two episodes. Loki doesn’t feature the action we associate with Marvel. But still, this series captures the Marvel spirit through two episodes. After the necessary setup in the first episode, the second episode starts off and running.
Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is a judge working with the Time Keepers. Not many people have first-expand experience with the Time Keepers but she is one of them. She also has a friendly relationship with Mobius. One gets the sense that the friendly relationship is more or less why Mobius gets his way. The same, however, cannot be said of Hunter-B15 (Wunmi Mosaku). Hunter-B15 comes off more or less as an antagonist. She isn’t the villain of the series but she definitely does not trust Loki. You certainly could not blame her for not trusting him! I mean, he is Loki! And again, this is not the same Loki from 2017-18.
Behind the camera, one gets a sense that Kate Herron understands the character. So too does head writer Michael Waldron. The vision they have for the fan favorite is a good one. One that could take us on a zig where we expect a zag. What happens when you take Thor out of the equation? The thing I love about watching the series through two episodes is that they strip the character down to basics. We know what he is capable of doing. But, again, what happens when you give Loki the assignment that Mobius gives him in the series? What if something happens to go wrong? Through two episodes, we have a sense of both mystery and direction that the series wants to take. What if, G-d forbid, something goes wrong? We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
Loki thrives on practicality as far as set design is concerned. This is not a green screen series. Actual sets and going on location are what help bring the series alive. My cap is tipped to production designer Kasra Farahani for helping to bring the TVA to life. Here’s a little known secret: most sets in Hollywood do not have a ceiling. This is because of needing to use that space to light a set. But with using such practical sets, it makes cinematographer Autumn Durald Arkapaw’s work more challenging. But at the end of the day, the job gets accomplished and this is what matters.
Where The Falcon and The Winter Soldier feels cinematic, Loki feels more or less like a limited series in nature. Yes, there’s going to be six episodes. We’ll get more of Tom Hiddleston over six weeks than previously in the MCU. No matter how many episodes there are, the important thing is getting the character just right. You have to have just the right emotions otherwise fans simply won’t be on board. If I’m enjoying what I watched after the first two episodes, I expect it’ll be the same for other Marvel fans. The only disappointment is that I have to wait a bit to watch the third episode! But anyway, fans of Brad Meltzer’s Decoded might be happy with one noticeable easter egg.
Loki is a lot of fun and takes us on a thrilling sense of adventure while keeping the Marvel spirit in tone. Enjoy the ride. I know I will. And who knows, maybe we’ll see some cameos during the final four episodes of the season. A second season is currently in the works.
DIRECTOR: Kate Herron
HEAD WRITER/CREATED FOR TELEVISION: Michael Waldron
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Stephen Broussard, Kate Herron, Michael Waldron, Tom Hiddleston
CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Kevin R. Wright, Trevor Waterson
CAST: Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sophia Di Martino, Wunmi Mosaku, Richard E. Grant