Marvel’s new “LOKI” series is a wild, off-the-rails, jaunt through time – once again starring Tom Hiddleston as the Asgardian Trickster God himself. Following this first episode and the success of “Wandavision” and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”, I think it’s safe to say that the MCU is *still* going strong on Disney+!
For those who somehow don’t already know, Loki is a supervillain in the pages of Marvel comics (first appearing in ‘Journey Into Mystery’ #85, 1962), loosely based on the Norse deity of the same name, he’s the adopted son of Odin, and brother to his greatest adversary, Thor – the God of Thunder. He was also the first villain to fight the Avengers in “The Avengers” #1 in 1963! In the comics, like in Norse Mythology, Loki has taken on a number of forms throughout the years, including a female persona. While Loki has an array of powers, including shape-shifting and conjuring illusions, his most cunning weapon is his mind and his innate ability to persuade and manipulate others for his own ends.
PREVIOUSLY ON THE MCU…
So just to recap real quick: In the Marvel films, Loki first debuted in 2011’s “THOR” where it was revealed that he was the biological son of the Frost Giant, Laufey. Loki attempted to start a war between the realms while his brother was exiled to Midgard (Earth) and managed to briefly ascend to the throne of Asgard, before Thor regained his power and confronted him with Mjolnir. The two fought on the rainbow bridge, but ultimately Loki seemingly fell into a black hole.
Loki then reappeared in “THE AVENGERS” (2012) where he lead an alien invasion against Earth in search of the Tesseract (aka the Cosmic Cube), on behalf of Thanos, armed with a scepter powered by an Infinity Stone. Loki (and his army) was subsequently defeated by the Avengers (and a Hulk) before being sent back to Asgard to stand trial.
During the events of “THOR: THE DARK WORLD” (2013), Thor was forced to break his brother free so that they could work together to avenge their mother and stop Malekith (and the Dark Elves) from obtaining the Aether. During the confrontation however Loki saved Thor before faking his own death. It was later revealed that he had somehow taken Odin’s place on the throne, in secret. Then, in “THOR: RAGNAROK” (2017), Thor confronts Loki and exposes his ruse to the rest of Asgard before they’re forced to put their differences aside and team up against their sister, Hela – the Goddess of Death. Finally, in the opening of “AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR” (2018), in one final heroic act of trickery, Loki gives his life to save Thor’s!
However, in “AVENGERS: ENDGAME” (2019), the Avengers go back in time to just after their original battle with Loki in New York, but during an unexpected moment, the villainous Loki got ahold of the Tesseract and warped away to… somewhere!
EPISODE ONE: “GLORIOUS PURPOSE”
As expected, the show picks up during this moment from ‘Endgame’ where (past) Loki warped away during the chaos, and in the process creating a divergent timeline! We immediately cut to the Gobi Desert, where Loki reappears, falling from the sky, but before he can set about conquering Earth (again), a group of temporal agents from the Time Variance Authority – show up to reset the timeline and take this alternate version of Loki into custody.
The rest of this first episode more or less follows Loki as he’s introduced to the bizarre world of the TVA and their quest to protect the “Sacred Timeline”. We then get this incredibly strange animated segment where “Miss Minutes” (voiced by Tara Strong herself) explains this super convoluted backstory about how the Time Keepers are trying to avoid a multiversal war, because reasons. The whole thing really feels like the tables have turned and an elaborate joke is being played on a trickster god, it’s a really clever set up, and it completely fits with the tone of the character.
LOKI FACES HIS DESTINY?
Then we get Owen Wilson’s Agent Mobius. He decides to intervene at Loki’s trial, because he thinks he may be the key to finding an elusive variant who’s been causing chaos across the time stream. Loki and Mobius share this awesome scene that feels less like an interrogation and more like a therapy session where Mobius deconstructs the “God of Mischief” and basically breaks down his character motivations.
Mobius points out that Loki is notorious for escaping impossible situations. In fact, there’s an amazing flashback to 1971 that reveals that Loki was in fact the mysterious D.B. Cooper (still one of the FBI’s greatest unsolved mysteries!) – and it was all part of some crazy dare that Thor put him up to.
Throughout the episode, Loki is convinced that this too is all an elaborate ruse. It’s not until he finds out that the TVA has literal drawers full of Infinity Stones that they use as paper weights that he realizes there’s no escaping this. It’s only when he witnesses his own death at the hands of Thanos that he realizes that his grand schemes of conquest were all for naught and he starts to come to terms with his insignificance in the grand scheme of things.
A LOVE LETTER TO SCI-FI
The real strength of the show is in it’s quirky weirdness. It really felt like something out of a Douglas Adams “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” book and I have to give the show’s creators credit for really going for it. The entire realm of the TVA looks like something ripped from the mind of Asimov with it’s 50’s retro-futurist vibe. To add another layer of weird, the music is reminiscent of the strange funeral dirge from Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” with little hints of a theremin theme ripped straight from “Forbidden Planet”. In fact, director Kate Herron recently said in an interview, “In terms of the aesthetics, I just wanted ‘Loki’ to be like this big love letter to sci-fi” and all of it works in the best way.
The episode ends with a twist. Agent Mobius is recruiting Loki to help them hunt down another version of himself! Between the random time travel hijinks, the further expansion of the Marvel multiverse, and Tom Hiddleston’s top notch performance as Loki, this 6 episode series has a lot of potential and I’m already wishing it was longer!
The first episode of “LOKI” is now streaming on Disney Plus!