Three shows in and the new era of Marvel television has really found its footing. Both ‘WandaVision’ and ‘The Falcon And The Winter Soldier’ were strong but ultimately ended up being character pieces. The heroes and villains in those shows were nurtured and grown but in the end it felt like Marvel where just moving them around their chess board so they would be in the correct place for the next story. ‘Loki’, on the otherhand, is a different beast. This feels like the true beginning of the next phase of the MCU.
The character of Loki as been built around the charisma of Tom Hiddleston. What could have been a one note villain that first appeared in ‘Thor’ a decade ago has grown into one of the jewels in Marvel’s crown. But the character does come saddled with ten years of development, not the most accessible thing for a casual viewer. Showrunner Michael Waldron and series director Kate Herron smartly tackle this head on by resetting Loki, with the aid of ‘Avengers: Endgame’, back to his “I want to rule the world” roots. They then, through the course of the fifty minute episode, redeliver all of the development so we are left with the Loki that had matured to the point where he was prepared to sacrifice his own life to help save the universe and all levels of viewer are on the same page.
Waldron has created a show that is a perfect melting pot of sci-fi idea ideas and styles. It looks like Terry Gilliam has directed a Spielberg film through a lens of pre-Star Wars ’70s sci-fi beige. This is what classic ‘Doctor Who’ could have looked like if it had a modern day genre entertainment budget. And I compare it to ‘Who’ because this is a time travel show with essentially the same concept, that being that there is one timeline and it must be kept pure. The past, present, and future have all happened and any variation must be corrected.
This is where Loki enters his own story. When he escapes in ‘Endgame’ he becomes the varient in the timeline. He is quickly captured by a group called the Time Variance Authority who police the timeline. The TVA whisk him off to another dimension and process him so he can be tried for his crimes. This is where we get the first Spielberg influence, just like in ‘Jurassic Park’ a cartoon is used to dump all the exposition. A character called Miss Minute, voiced by Tara Strong, pops up to inform Loki about the timeline. Originally there was a chaotic multiverse until the Time-Keepers formed it into one sacred timeline. It is the TVA’s job to protect this and prevent a ‘Nexus’ creating the ‘madness’ of another ‘multiverse’. Marvel are very precise with the wording here considering they have a film coming out called ‘Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness’ and Wanda, who is in that film, is a nexus being.
Loki’s guide through this new world is Agent Mobius, played by the always excellent Owen Wilson, a man who wants to get to the heart of who Loki is. This is where the second Spielberg influence comes in, Mobius talks Loki through his past and future by showing it in a way similar to precog clips in ‘Minority Report’. By showing Loki snippets of his life Mobius rebuilds his character to be the man that he was when he died
Agent Mobius is also driving the plot of the show. Members of the TVA are being killed throughout time while hunting a varient and Mobius is investigating. While in 1500s France he is told by a child that it is the devil committing the crimes. Before people get excited, Kate Herron has already stated that this isn’t a hint to Mephisto but a metaphor for Loki himself as he is literally a horned god that has fallen from the heavens. Mobius wants Loki because he believes that’s the best way to track another Loki varient. We are left with a cliffhanger of the other Loki varient, most likely the female version that has been heavily rumoured and glimpsed in the trailer, slaughtering another team of agents.
So just when we thought nothing could be more powerful than Thanos with the Infinity Stones in the MCU we are introduced to the TVA, an organisation that’s more powerful than an actual god. They have complete control over Loki and, as if to hammer the point home, when Loki escapes for a brief period he stumbles across a drawer full of Infinity Stones, obviously taken from other attempts to alter the sacred timeline, that are rendered powerless by the TVA.
The TVA feel as if the are going to be important players in the MCU’s Phase 4. As I have mentioned, there has already been a clear mention of the next Doctor Strange film but the next Spider-Man is also going to be playing with this sacred timeline and Kang, a time traveling villain, is slated to be in the next Ant-Man. And as Loki can’t be returned to his timeline it looks like he may be along for the ride.
This show exhibits so much imagination in just the first episode while being both hilarious and moving. In one word – Glorious.