by @holocronJosh for @mar_tesseract
After 10 years, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki has been through a lot in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From discovering his true origins as a Frost Giant to his strained and complicated relationship with his brother Thor, and ultimate demise at the hands of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, Loki has had quite a journey so far. In that fateful first scene of Infinity War, it looked to be the end of the road for the God of Mischief, especially as he finally aligned himself with Thor and turned good (or as good as a character like Loki can get). This, however, proved to be a bit of a premature judgment, as Avengers: Endgame saw the 2012 version of Loki steal the Tesseract and escape…
Cue the latest Disney+ series, aptly titled Loki. Once again starring Tom Hiddleston in the titular role, the series also features an array of new side characters, most notably Mobius, played by Owen Wilson. Originally planned as the first Marvel Studios series on Disney+, production delays and the COVID-19 pandemic meant that the schedule was reworked to have WandaVision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier premiere first. After delays and much anticipation, Loki is finally here with its first episode, ‘Glorious Purpose’.
The premiere centers on Loki, fresh from the Battle of New York in 2012, as he wanders his new surroundings at the TVA, or Time Variance Authority. From here, both the character and the audience get a long exposition of the TVA and their role in the MCU, with some humor sprinkled in between. All in all, this exposition works, and proves to be far clearer on the mechanics of time and the multiverse than Avengers: Endgame. The little video that accompanied this exposition was an obvious callback to Jurassic Park and provided much needed foundational explanations as the MCU delves deeper into time travel and other similar plot lines,
The explanation continues as Loki meets Mobius, who works for the TVA as an investigator of dangerous variants (even more dangerous than Loki. One of the highlights of the premiere comes from scenes between Loki and Mobius, as Hiddleston and Wilson prove to have great on screen chemistry. Surprisingly, the back and forth, clever dialogue in Loki and Mobius’ scenes together proved to be more engaging to almost everything seen between Sam and Bucky in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, a show built around the premise of a buddy comedy adventure. Despite the success of this part of Loki’s premiere, the back and forth does end up continuing just a bit too long, one of the only criticisms that can be said of the episode. Loki denies the power of the TVA, along with the events he’s shown about his future, before Mobius refutes these claims. This results in a bit of over-explaining of sorts, which is certainly better than the opposite and not giving enough exposition, but it ultimately doesn’t bring the episode down in any substantial way.
Loki’s escape proved to be the most action heavy section in a premiere largely devoid of action. This was a welcome relief and smart placement as it gives the audience some time to breathe before getting back into the main plot. When Loki finally stops running and returns to the room he spoke with Mobius in, he begins to watch the rest of the footage of his life, which provides the most emotionally gripping moments of the episode. Loki seems horrified at not only his death, but that he’s capable of essentially killing his mother and other acts he committed along the way. Loki also seems to regret his deteriorating relationship with Thor as he watches the two of them bond, before he admits to Mobius that he doesn’t want to hurt or cause pain to anyone. Mobius reminds Loki that he’s not a villain, and this is the start of interesting character work. Rather than showing the angry, god-like Loki, we get to see the vulnerable and more human side of him, one of the highlights of this episode. It also provides the framework for further character development as the show goes on, with Loki seemingly bound to move further into the anti hero, if not downright hero, territory once again.
The episode ends on a cliffhanger of a reveal that another Loki variant is killing TVA agents and causing chaos in the timeline, hence Mobius’ intent to recruit the 2012 Loki to help. As for who this could be, it seems unlikely that it’ll be Hiddleston. If it was, then he probably would have been shown. That this Loki was hooded and in the dark in the final moments perhaps reveals a much different version of the character, maybe even one played by Richard E Grant, who shares a resemblance with Hiddleston and is in the show in an unknown capacity. Nevertheless, this ending provides a lot of intrigue heading into the next episode and the rest of the season.
Visually and aesthetically, Loki’s premiere is stunning. The production design feels uniquely 1970’s and clearly evokes settings from shows like Doctor Who. It’s also notably different from anything in the MCU before, resulting in a welcome change from blander looking projects such as The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. This continues with the directing by Kate Herron, who lends a unique visual style to the whole premiere that makes it stand out from other recent Marvel movies and shows. That being said, the D.B. Cooper sequence, although entertaining, felt entirely out of place.
This episode was written by Michael Waldron, who has fast become one of Kevin Feige’s most favored screenwriters. After working on Loki, Waldron was tapped to write Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which he worked on with director Sam Raimi, before switching gears to a galaxy far, far away with Feige’s secretive Star Wars film. Because of this, there was added interest in Loki and Waldron’s writing of the series and the iconic lead character. Overall, Waldron shows his writing strengths as he clears up any time travel related questions left by Avengers: Endgame, which was not an easy feat. Waldron’s writing also gives the episode a flow that works extremely well, something that The Falcon and The Winter Soldier struggled to achieve for the entirety of its run. The dialogue is punchy and memorable, and the humor provides much needed comedic relief amidst heavy exposition, with the comedic talents of Hiddleston and Wilson taken full advantage of. Even though this does continue a bit too long, Waldron can be forgiven for this as he’s introducing such a large and unique concept into an already massive universe. After this premiere episode, it’s exciting to see what else Waldron does at Marvel and Star Wars.
Loki’s premiere is a unique, interesting time adventure reminiscent of Doctor Who driven by two leads with great chemistry. While much of the episode centers on exposition, this isn’t a bad thing (for the most part), as the show lays down a good basis for the TVA and the broader rules of time in the MCU. With much promise going forward, we’re looking forward to seeing what happens next in the latest Marvel series. From the look of things, it seems that Marvel Studios have yet another hit on their hands with Loki.
Images courtesy of Marvel Studios & Disney+