The first two Disney + series Wandavision & The Falcon and the Winter Solder proved that ancillary characters could thrive in the spotlight when handled by the right creators. Loki is no different, though Loki the character has never been a supporting role, at least in his eyes. Burdened with glorious purpose, Loki the character has always been destined for more than being known as the adoptive brother of a God. A god in his own right of mischief, the character who started out as a villain has morphed into an anti-hero and one of if not the most popular character to some. And for good reason, too. Since his introduction in Thor, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has shown through charisma and nuance that his character deserves to be in the position he’s currently in.
Now that all 6 episodes of Loki have been released publicly (I try to watch the entire season before writing my review since I don’t get screeners, yet), where the series ranks among the previous two and among the larger MCU will be debated at nauseum. The Loki character in this series isn’t the same Loki we all fell in love with over the course of the Infinity Saga and watched his progression with his family to witness his noble death from sacrifice. Episode 1, like Avengers: Endgame shows 2012’s Loki after the battle of New York pick up the tesseract from the clutches of Tony Stark’s Iron Man and disappear in thin air, without a trace, thanks to Iron Man.
Questions begin flooding in about the cause of what the Avengers did is then the effect of a multiverse. Wandavision teased this much to be true, and Loki confirms it – waiting till the last possible moment to reveal the Wizard of Oz level trickery while setting the stage for what the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will look like.
But since we’ve gotten to know this character so well over the past decade of films, why do we need to witness Loki’s growth, again. For the pure reason of even more development to his character. Even if this is the 2012 Loki, the villainous version of him is gone as if that part of him never existed. In Avengers, Loki is pure evil, there’s no denying it but the way Michael Waldron wrote the character for the series feels as if this is the Loki from post Thor: Ragnarok. It’s a little jarring at first given the progression but Waldron adds more depth to the character that dismantles everything this character stood for. This is a journey of self discovery which Loki never expected to be on.
Harsh truths are learned from Loki after being caught by the Time Variance Authority – TVA for short and is placed beggingly in Mobius M. Mobius’s (Owen Wilson) custody. I’d argue the best scenes in this entire season involve Owen Wilson and Tom Hiddleston talking 1 on 1. Wilson’s signature whimsey paired with Hiddleston’s earnestness is brilliantly shot by director Kate Herron. The two are a comic-y odd couple reluctant to work together, this was the pairing that was expected between Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie. All the exposition from Loki’s past is shown in 5 minutes, he sees just how much pain and destruction he caused and his eventual death in the sacred timeline. All of that and the events of Endgame were meant to happen, Loki disappearing from custody created a nexus event causing Loki to become a variant.
With the new direction of the MCU post Thanos and Infinity Saga, the events that unravel in Loki cause serious implications for phase 4 and beyond. Those implications coming in the last few moments between Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino), Loki and the potential next big bad that is the Thanos level villain. All 6 episodes led to that moment when He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors) is revealed to be behind the TVA, controlling every aspect that paved the way for Loki and Sylvie to arrive at that moment together at the end of time.
Among Hiddleston and Di Martino (who equally gives a brilliant performance) is Majors in a cameo role. His character is a version of a bigger threat to come in future projects which Majors looks to have a blast with every line of dialogue spoken. In just 1-episode Majors steals the entire season – giving us so much to look forward to in the future.
Loki being 6 episodes gives a small margin for error as the events play out. While the season as a whole is the best of the three series so far, there are questionable missteps along the way. One of the episodes being a nostalgia fest of easter eggs from the coveted Thanos-Copter to Throg – the nemesis of Alligator Loki (who steals the episode in my opinion). As cool as that episode is for hardcore fans it’s one of the weaker episodes focusing on the shine rather than the substance.
By now, the Marvel formula has been perfected by Kevin Feige. Loki as a series dismantles how each film and series has been constructed – ending on a cliffhanger, no giant CGI action sequenced battle leaving no shred of a resolution. In a way it’s a perfect conclusion for the series even though it doesn’t necessarily “stick the landing”. Granted, Loki will have a second season where the cliffhanger angle keeps the attention for the wait of season 2. None of the three shows have tied things up nicely with a bow but Loki gave us the best possible outcome for the future of the MCU.
While Wandavision was ultimately about grief, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier being about responsibility, Loki is all about free will. It’s learned in the first half of the season that every “employee” of the TVA is a variant who created a nexus event in their own respective timelines and was picked up at some point to avoid branching off said sacred timeline. The TVA runs like a cult would – some members are following blindly based on believing the lies (Mobius), some who know this is a cult and is actively attempting to get out in Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku), and some like Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who believe their doing the work of their leader, that no other way is possible to save humanity. In the end it’s all a bunch of lies told by the compliant Miss Minutes (Tara Strong) to control the weak.
its no secret Marvel has a villain problem – Loki as a character has been one of the better villainous characters. His arc in this entire series adds more nuance to the point where none of this is about him and by Episode 6, he understands that, he is more than a one dimensional character. Sylvie on the other hand hasn’t had that come to Jesus moment yet – her mission matters the most. All the good that led Sylvie and Loki to that point is destroyed when Sylvie carries out that mission.
On a scale of 1-10 how much did I want Mobius to ride a jet ski in the finale or a post-credit scene… a 12 out of 10. There’s hope for season 2. All Mobius wanted to do is ride a perfect machine crafted by man, it’s his way of fighting back – going against the establishment, causing a bit of anarchy. Maybe he was a salesman in his previous life?
Loki isn’t without shortcomings, some of the plot feels stagnant at times where the story loses its momentum – it happens but compared to the result its nothing major since subsequent episodes make up for it. It’s near perfect. Besides that, the theremin infused score by Natalie Holt that added a layer of mystery to the series, the stunning visuals, the sheer scale of the events and the solid performances all around but especially by Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, and Sophia Di Martino catapult Loki to the top of the phase 4 projects released.
The one thing I need more from season 2 is Alligator Loki and Classic Loki played by the astounding Richard E. Grant who gets his moment in the sun.
Loki premiered on June 9, 2021 and can be streamed on Disney Plus. Loki has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 92%. Loki was created for TV by Michael Waldron, directed by Kate Herron, was based on characters created by Marvel Comics and stars Tom Hiddleston, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wunmi Mosaku, Tara Strong, Owen Wilson, Sophia Di Martino, Richard E. Grant & Jonathan Majors. 5 out of 5.