Is anybody better at bringing people back from the dead better than Marvel?
Whether its Phil Coulson reappearing in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or Natasha Romanoff receiving her first solo film posthumously (albeit as a prequel), Marvel knows how to maximize the characters that fans have grown to love, even after their apparent deaths. Now, after his ‘no more tricks’ fate in Endgame, Loki returns in his own series which promises to have a major impact on the future of the MCU.
Directed by Kate Herron, Loki begins during the events of Avengers: Endgame and sets the beloved anti-hero off on his own adventure. After escaping from the Avengers and crashing down in Mongolia, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is arrested by the Time Variant Authority (TVA), a bureaucratic organization tasked with maintaining the consistency of time itself. Because of his actions, Loki is charged with disrupting the primary timeline and sentenced to being ‘erased’ from time itself… that is, unless he helps Agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) to capture an even greater threat to the universal timeline.
After The Falcon and the Winter Soldier sought to challenge their audience, so too did they also lose the ‘appointment television’ vibe that made WandaVision such a success. Loki should change that. Instead of focussing on the weight of social issues or effects of grief, Loki provides a much-needed dose of levity back into the MCU. With an emphasis on fun and humour, Herron has created a series with a tone far closer to the wildness of Guardians of the Galaxy than the gravitas of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Fueled by wit and silliness, Loki has a comedic energy to it that is sure to excite fans of the franchise. (Though, it’s worth noting that the first episode is exposition-heavy as the series must explain the existence of an entirely different layer of reality that’s been added to the Marvel canon.)
Without question though, the centre of the show remains Hiddleston. After all these years, Hiddleston is more than ready to step into the limelight as his charisma has elevated the role from standard villain to one of Marvel’s most adored characters. (Has it really been 10 years since he first put on the horns?) Due to the time travel element to Loki, Hiddleston brings the character back to his more mischievous origins and clearly relishes the opportunity to bring back Loki’s shades of grey. What’s more, the casting of Wilson as Agent Mobius also provides a suitable foil for Hiddleston. Known for his more innocent charm, Wilson uses his likeability to balance out Loki’s more menacing humour and the two are instantly one of Marvel’s more likeable duos.
With the inclusion of the TVA, the Marvel universe has changed drastically. With the multiverse beginning to come into play, a realm such as the timestream has huge implications for the franchise moving forward. This is a place where ‘time moves differently’, superhuman abilities are rendered useless and Infinity Stones are literally used as paperweights. (The TVA is also the first official mention of the ‘Nexus’ after WandaVision’s famed commercial segments.)
Of course, this sort of environment is both stunning and enticing to Loki himself. As he marvels (see what I did there?) at their unbelievable power, Loki is forced to realize how small he may truly be. In this world, time is sacred and the TVA are sworn to protect it from those who would dare to change it. As such, Loki is arrested because his escape was not ‘supposed to happen’, even if the Avengers can seem to pull it off without prosecution. (After all, their transgressions were supposed to take place…) In doing so, the series suggests that every character or person has a lane by which they much adhere. Villains are going to be villains. Heroes will save the world. For the TVA, there is little room for improvisation and everyone must behave as they’re expected to behave.
However, at the same time, the series offers somewhat of a paradox. (That’s shocking for any time travel series, I know.) While Loki is branded a criminal for his decision to break the timestream, he is also offered the chance to make it right. Instead of seeing him solely as a villain, Mobius sees him as something more and suggests there may be another way. (“I can’t offer you salvation but maybe I can offer you something better,” Mobius says cryptically.) To Mobius, Loki’s criminal history does not negate him but instead highlights his craftiness and ingenuity and could provide a new direction for his life.
For Mobius, Loki’s future is not bound by his past.
With a return to its more mischievous tone, Loki is a welcome return to form for the MCU. With Loki, Herron, Hiddleston and Wilson have created a world of limitless potential that should be an instant hit with fans. It’s always most fun when Marvel takes risks and, while Loki doesn’t exactly stray from the style that has made them a juggernaut, it does provide its most unique character with a whole new box of toys to play with.
Loki is available on Disney+ on Wednesday, June 9th, 2021.