Loki is dead. He’s supposed to be dead, but now we have a “variant” who has escaped his scheduled doom but is now being held by the TVA, or Time Variance Authority, an organization established to monitor the timelines and “prune” them so that the “prime” timeline is maintained, all at the behest of three beings known as the Time Keepers. Because Loki escaped his imprisonment as seen in Avengers: Endgame by using the Tesseract he has been apprehended and is now working with Agent Mobius to help capture other variants.
As premises go this sounds both simple and intriguing. While it is intriguing, there is nothing simple about this. From the very beginning, Loki is presented with this all-powerful agency that can even nullify each of the Infinity Stones and reduce them to paperweights. However, the real issue that can cause headaches is how this calls into question everything about existence. Loki even asks the question regarding self-determination vs. pre-destination. This issue isn’t made any easier when we learn that the time travel effort by the Avengers was supposed to happen as opposed to Loki’s sudden disappearance after he led his Chitauri attack on New York. This had the potential of seriously disrupting the quality of the stories in this series, but trust the powers that be over at Marvel for they are teasing us with a trick up their collective sleeves by introducing us to a lie told by the TVA that Loki has discovered.
This is the third series from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to premiere on the streaming Disney+ service and it is perhaps the most anticipated of the lot. Loki has always been a popular character in the comics but leave it to actor Tom Hiddleston to give Loki some added dimension making him arguably THE most popular character in all of the MCU. Hiddleston did some amazing work (compliments of equally amazing writing) in each of the movies he has appeared in, giving him a wonderful character arc that saw him die as a tragic hero at the hands of Thanos. Now we have a younger Loki who is still bitter at his treatment from his adopted family, namely the all-father Odin and his son Thor. This is a Loki who hasn’t had the experiences that changed him and made him grow. This Loki is still the trickster and Hiddleston nails it. He shows that despite being a variant, this Loki is still made up of the same DNA as his dead counterpart and we see that on his face as he discovers the fate of Odin, of Asgard, and himself, and those realizations silently play on his face in a way that shows what a truly talented actor Hiddleston is. Even without saying any lines, his expressions show us a character who is determined to get to the bottom of the TVA and of its Time Keepers. He’s a man, or rather a god on a mission and as he wants answers I found myself wanting them too. This is not only a credit to Hiddleston’s acting, but to the nature of the storytelling, we’ve had so far in these first three episodes. Each episode is remarkably cinematic and dense in how these stories are told, and yet they hearken back to the old movie serials of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers with the cliffhangers each episode has delivered. Loki is just as unique from the previous shows The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and WandaVision as each movie from the MCU has been so far. Each episode has also given die-hard fans a plethora of Easter Eggs for them to feast upon but still deliver the goods for those people who might be new to the MCU. As a side-note, one new aspect to Loki’s character was a pleasant surprise in June where we celebrate LGBTQ Pride. It will probably not be a major point going forward, but the acknowledgment unquestionably made me smile.
At the heart of all of this is the mastermind Kevin Feige. His way of overseeing the entire MCU has been a gift to Marvel movie fans. He has ensured that each of these shows fits perfectly within the movies of the MCU. Years ago we were given the assurance that everything was connected, and while that eventually disintegrated between the shows on TV as well as on Netflix, here we are seeing something that IS connected to the overall MCU. By doing so we are seeing this growing tapestry of tales that will delight fans for years to come and Loki so far is no exception. It is also no wonder that out of all the MCU shows that have premiered on Disney+ Loki is the only one that is expected to have a second season.
For only having shown three episodes Loki will probably go down as the most popular MCU series to air on Disney+ and I cannot wait to see where the remainder of this series is going to go!