When the first THOR movie came out in 2011, I instantly fell for Tom Hiddleston‘s LOKI and like many Hiddlestoners out there, I kept wishing there’ll be a spin-off movie. Well, that day never came, but thankfully a decade later, we got something even better! Why settle for a 2-hour LOKI movie when you can get 6 hours of the god of mischief shenanigans!
The series, directed by Kate Herron and written by Michael Waldron (who’s also penning the script of Doctor Strange‘s sequel) is Marvel Studios’ first villain-centric project. The timing is quite interesting as Disney just released its latest villain-centric movie Cruella, which some critics have called it The Joker Wears Prada, ahah. It seems that Marvel honcho Kevin Feige and its show-runner is confident that most people who watch the series are likely familiar with the MCU and have kept up with all 4 phases. If not, well they probably aren’t going to care that there are spoilers galore, especially pertaining to the Infinity Saga.
Even in the opening sequence we’re shown a clip of the 2012 The Avengers when Loki was reprimanded in chains. But chaos on the Stark Industries building lobby causes the all-important Tesseract to break loose and into the hand of LOKI, which of course seizes the opportunity to escape and transport himself out of Midgard, aka earth. Somehow Loki ends up falling on the Gobi desert of Mongolia, surrounded by pieces of what looks like metals and other pieces. It certainly reminds me of the scene in Iron Man when Tony Stark crash lands his first prototype of the Iron Man suit. Before Loki even figures out his bearing, a group of military force in a gray, black and orange body armor seizes Loki and takes him away through a time-travel portal.
There are a ton of exposition in the first episode which I won’t get into here, it’s best that you experience it for yourself when you watch it. I can say that what Loki did with escaping using the Tesseract is that he creates a branch in time, which is grounds for arrest by the Time Variance Authority (TVA) for crimes against the Sacred Timeline. Honestly, I’m still not clear about that whole timeline and who actually leads the TVA, who apparently even the agents have never met. TVA is a bureaucratic organization that exists outside of time and space and monitors the timeline. This is where things get interesting, that is when Loki is brought by a no-nonsense high-ranking officer Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) to a judge called Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) to determine his fate. But then a TVA agent called Mobius M. Mobius – don’t you just love these wacky names!! – intervenes and convinces the judge that he could use Loki’s help to catch a more dangerous, divergent Loki Variant, the one he deems smarter and more evil than the Loki they have in possession. As you’ve seen in the trailers, Mobius is played by the reliably amusing Owen Wilson.
Now, Tom and Owen have worked together in Midnight in Paris, and I’ve seen countless times the clip of Hiddles impersonating Owen in the Graham Norton Show. The two must’ve stayed in touch as I have a feeling perhaps Tom’s had a hand in Owen’s casting, and Owen himself has said in interviews he became familiar w/ the world of the MCU thanks to what he calls the Loki Lectures! Oh man, I’d LOVE to sign up for those!
Move over Falcon + The Winter Soldier, we’ve got a new fun bromance in the MCU! I actually laugh more watching Loki and Mobius’ constant bantering. I know lots of people might find all the talky scenes boring but I actually enjoy their tête-à-tête, discussing what the TVA actually does, time travel theories, even philosophical stuff like free will, etc. As a theater actor, Tom clearly he enjoys the heavy dialogue and he’s got a such gorgeous voice to boot! I’ve said it before in this post, Tom can just be reading a vacuum cleaner manual to me and I’d be sitting there batting my eyelashes.
For the most part, the banters are droll and hilarious, especially when Loki hijacks Mobius’ lunch to demonstrate his time variant theory in the lunch room! But there are a few emotional moments, such as when Mobius shares what happens in his future, including the destruction of Asgard we saw in Thor: Ragnarok and what Thanos did to him in Endgame. For his part, Owen is perfect casting as well as the Texas-born actor is effortlessly comical and charming as Mobius. His exasperated mannerism dealing with Loki, even mocking the Asgardian’s inability to shut up, is one of the series’ highlights. The two complements each other so well I think they’re now my favorite MCU duo!
I’ve mentioned Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Wunmi Mosaku above and they’re both great addition to the cast. I’ve been a huge fan of Gugu ever since BELLE movie, and seeing her joining the MCU just made me so happy!! I’m glad she’s not just a damsel in distress or some throwaway character, I mean her role as a judge is a pretty powerful one and I hope to see more of her in the series. I haven’t seen her in Lovecraft Country but I love seeing what Wunmi bring to this show so far.
Aside from the talented cast, I also love the production design of the series. I love the retro look of the TVA headquarter in yet another interesting and wacky universe as Marvel keeps upping the ante in its world-building ability. The cinematography, colors, set pieces, etc. has that 50s/60s sensibilities, though not quite in the same way as WandaVision did which shows the characters evolving decade after decade.
Now, of course the series just wouldn’t work without Tom Hiddleston reprising his role as LOKI. I know that everyone always have such high praises for Taika Waititi for reviving the Thor franchise, but I for one think Kenneth Branagh deserves a ton of kudos for not just casting the perfect Thor in Chris Hemsworth, but the perfect Loki as well. It’s crazy to think Tom auditioned for Thor, but clearly he’s more brain than brawn and what I love about Loki is his sharp wit, undeniable charm and sheer unpredictability!
Tom is one of the best actors working today, so it’s no surprise he easily switches from mischief to melancholy in no time flat, and manages to make those playful and poignant scenes believable. He relishes in being an anti-hero, and this role gives him a chance to show the many sides of Loki in such a fun way. We’ve seen Loki’s not-so-nefarious side before in various movies, but the possibilities are endless given the multiverse. I love the moment he gets to be be charming + flirtatious in a dapper suit (which might re-start those Bond rumors once again). I look forward to seeing more of what Hiddleston can do with the role in this series.
Now, there are a few quibbles I have about the series however. Some of the Jetson-style cartoon of the TVA seems a bit out of place. The bouncy clock Miss Minutes was amusing for a few seconds, but the novelty kinda wears off fast. I think we get that time travel is par the course for the series, and the thing with time travel, alternate timeline, multiverse, etc. is that the more you talk about it, the more convoluted it becomes and it’s hard at times to stick the the ‘rules’ the show-runners themselves have created. But I suppose this is just the first two episodes, so hopefully there won’t be any more exposition in future episodes and just give us what Loki does best, that is being his mischievous self!
Overall though, I thoroughly enjoy the LOKI series! It’s delightfully kooky which definitely helps averts the superhero fatigue. The ending of episode two is infused with all kinds of mystery and it fuses sci-fi and detective elements that I enjoy. I’m really curious just how big of an impact this series will have to the MCU as a whole, as Feige has teased in many articles such as this one, reportedly saying that “[LOKI] is tremendously important. It perhaps will have more impact on the MCU than any of the shows thus far,” I also look forward to the character’s evolution, which we have seen in Wanda becoming Scarlet Witch, as well as Sam Wilson becoming Captain America. “You want to see, after six hours or so, characters change and evolve,” Feige was quoted as saying, “We don’t make these shows to not be radical, right?”
That’s a big promise, but I for one trust Marvel that they WILL deliver! Can’t wait for more of LOKI, wish I could binge them all in a single weekend!