The Marvel Universe I Believe Is At Its Best When It Comes To The Animated Series Rick and morty, exploring alternate dimensions, deviant timelines, presenting colorful and eerie environments, soaking up the strangest and wackiest elements of comics.
The MCU seems to be gaining momentum, and those old one-dimensional supervillains who want to take over the world, for whatever reason, are now being eclipsed by deities who control the very form of reality.
Loki is one of those classic power-hungry villains (or at least he was), and it’s intriguing to see him so far out of his element. Loki begins with the version of the character who tried to take over Earth, i.e. the villain who first brought the Avengers together, and therefore the first episode looks like Marvel in its greatest meta.
Loki reflects on the creation of Hollywood’s most formidable franchise, the role of its most notable villain, and how he could shape the future of the franchise. After essentially recapitulating the events of Avengers: Endgame, and the escape of Loki, the titular evil god is instantly, effortlessly, brought down by rogue cops, who declare his theft of Tesseract illegitimate.
This raises some interesting questions, given that End of Game was all about the team tinkering with time, essentially cheating the system to beat Thanos at his own reality-warping game. And according to the cops of the time, everything was meant to happen – it looks like fate can get pretty messy in this supposedly “holy” timeline.
For Loki, this means humiliation; being dumped by the Hulk pales in comparison to Loki’s dehumanizing treatment in the system, where, as a “variant,” he is almost suffocated.
But Agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) sees Loki’s potential and tries his luck with him, in the hopes that Loki can help solve a difficult case. Yes, it’s that classic police procedural trope of recruiting a criminal to catch the serial killer.
But there is an incredible amount of exposure to go through first, some of which is tedious and unnecessary (eg after a while a cop hits Loki, she explains to the audience that he is moving at 1 / 16th speed. while feeling pain in real time as we watch it arrive).
Along with learning the laws of time travel, Loki himself needs to get up to speed, remember the same events we did, bringing him closer to the redeemed version of the character we last saw.
This means Loki is compelled to watch the highlights of a life he’s never been able to live, his most moving family moments, and even his heroic death at the hands of Thanos. This is an interesting position for the character (and it certainly helps to get back to Thor 2, the least memorable, but extremely substantial, segment of the MCU timeline).
Mobius also pushes Loki to examine himself, as to why he attacked New York in the first place – it’s nice to hear the ideology behind his actions, even if it seems hollow and hypocritical. The serious tyrant who seeks to free the inhabitants of Earth from their own, uh, freedom, doesn’t quite match the mischievous little brother we saw in Ragnarok, the adorable rascal who likes to subvert authority. Although, according to Marvel canon, Loki could have acted under the influence of the Mind Stone.
The omniscient cops of the time believe Loki is a one-dimensional comic book villain, a character who only exists to push heroes into action and self-realization. It was his function in Avengers – but we know that’s not true.
Maybe Hiddleston’s performance is too sympathetic, or the character is too redeemed in our eyes, but Loki really doesn’t feel like a villain anymore – it doesn’t matter that he’s stabbed and murdered countless innocent people, probably because how funny and charming.
Which is a good thing, I guess, considering he’s a protagonist now. And it’s nice to see Marvel tell a story about an overtly selfish character, even though Loki is likely to become a hero, of sorts, and dismantle the oppressive institution of the Time Variance Authority.
It’s still early days, but the series strongly implies that the sacred timeline is unnatural and unfair, that Loki is here to break the timeline and divide it into a multiverse that Doctor Strange will have to face in his next film.
So far, the show is pretty refreshing; this episode does everything it can to show that what was once considered sacred (the Infinity Stones) is now out of place. It looks like the cops of the time could even have taken Thanos down, if they wanted to (or maybe not, given their susceptibility to fire).
But the existence of three separate Lokis seems oddly experimental for the MCU – there’s the good (and dear departed), the bad (our current protagonist), and the worst – the Loki antagonist. And judging by the fact that the face of antagonist Loki has yet to be revealed, surely there is another plot on the horizon.
Indulgent exhibition apart, Loki got off to a good start; the concept is great, and Loki’s new role, as a servant of an almighty authority, forced to think about who he really is, pushes the character into some interesting headspace.
It’s too early to tell, but Loki just might be the start of a new direction for Marvel.