Tom Hiddleston’s Loki has been a fan-favourite character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe ever since he was first introduced in the 2011 movie Thor. The compelling nature of this perpetual thorn in the side of his foster brother Thor was especially notable in a franchise known for forgettable, one-note baddies.
Supposed to die in the second Thor movie, Dark World, adverse reaction by a test audience meant that he got a new life, or rather new lives, in the franchise. No other supervillain has had such an shelf life in MCU.
Michael Waldron’s Disney+ series Loki, which premieres on Wednesday, continues the story of the god of mischief. As we know, he was introduced as a supervillain, but gradually turned into a sort of an anti-hero whose allegiance is always in question. He even died a heroic (and permanent) death at the hands of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War after a failed attempt to save his brother Thor.
In case you are not aware, the series follows the alternate timeline Loki from the aftermath of Battle of New York — the one who escaped with the Tesseract amid the commotion inadvertently created by the future Tony Stark and Scott Lang.
This scribe got to see the first two episodes of Loki, and here’s the verdict.
The series’ Loki has not done any heroic deeds. He still dreams of ruling the earth and its ‘lowly’ human inhabitants. This is an interesting and welcome touch, as I was afraid that the show will gloss over his almost Nazi-like designs during Avengers Assemble and would turn him into what he later became in MCU — a mischievous but basically harmless prankster.
Apprehended by soldiers working for the multiversal, highly bureaucratic organisation called the Time Variance Authority (TVC), he finds himself under confinement again. This time the charge is bigger in scope: that he did something he was not supposed to (steal the Tesseract and escape) and his actions are creating branching timelines, and it is TVC’s job to deal with ‘time variants’ like him.
Owen Wilson’s Mobius M Mobius convinces his superior Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s Ravonna Renslayer that he will deal with Loki himself. An agent who specialises in hunting dangerous time variants, Mobius needs Loki’s help in hunting down a TVC headache who has been killing their soldiers seemingly for sport, and is stealing devices that allow the soldiers to erase timelines. In return, Loki might not be pruned (a euphemism for erasing him from reality).
The thing with Loki is that despite his pretensions of great strength, he often finds himself powerless in front of others, and this is the case here too. Some things never change.
Well, one thing did change. This time we see a vulnerable Loki who genuinely feels guilty of his actions, including the crimes he would have committed had he not escaped. Mobius shows Loki what he would eventually become, as well as his actions and what their consequences would entail.
They, along with Wunmi Mosaku’s Hunter B-15, eventually join forces to take down the dangerous time variant. Their adventures take them across time and space in different timelines and realities.
Loki is written as if it is winking at the audience, which will remind one of Taika Waititi’s style in Thor: Ragnarok. The goofball humour and action are similar too.
Which is all to say, Loki is thus far a total win for Marvel Studios.
Both the episodes are absolute blast from start to finish. An emotional core if not what you would expect from a Loki TV show, but that is exactly what you get here.
Hiddleston, again looking lean and sort of eely, is reliably charismatic, charming and slimy (he is Loki after all) in the role and he makes good use of the solid writing and a new tender side given to the character. The evil, opportunistic gleam in his eyes will make you want to revisit earlier MCU movies featuring Loki. Wilson is, well, not really different from many other roles he has played before. He fits snugly in the role of a basically nice man who wants to give Loki a chance despite, in his words, his history of stabbing people in the back.
While Wunmi Mosaku and Gugu Mbatha-Raw do not get to do much, we expect that to change in the rest of the four episodes. Stay tuned for the full review.