As the Marvel Cinematic Universe rapidly expands, it started to seem like there were not many additional landscapes for the mega franchise to explore. Although its common knowledge that the multiverse is the MCU’s next major expansion, the studio has so far advertised it as an isolated, three part story arc encompassing WandaVision, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Now, with the official launch of Loki on Disney+, the multiverse seems larger and more important ever for the future of the Marvel Universe.
As expected, Episode 1 of Loki flows directly from the events of Avengers: Endgame. A variant Loki from the alternate timeline created by the Avengers allows the God of Mischief to escape with the Tesseract. From there, he is arrested and taken to the mysterious Time Variance Authority (TVA), where he learns that he is not as much of a god to the universe as he thinks. The first episode sets up mysterious threats and countless possibilities for the rest of the show and the future of the MCU.
Tom Hiddleston steps effortlessly into the role he was born to play, but with a major twist. The Loki in this show is very much the version of the character from from 2012’s Avengers, before nearly a decade and three additional movies of character development. In this episode, Loki sets off on a different path in a truly vulnerable direction for the character. Loki must finally face his detrimental lust for power that he now knows ends in his meaningless, unceremonious death in Avengers: Infinity War.
The main conflict of the series (at least so far) takes place within the TVA, a mysteriously unassuming, bureaucratic organization that seems to hold the ultimate power in the universe. The bureaucratic gimmick is well used for comedic effect, but also for interesting commentary on the organizations that control our day to day lives. It’s reminiscent of the sitcom gimmick that WandaVision used to tell its story, but not quite as artistically brilliant. How Loki develops in the next few episodes will determine whether the choice becomes a cheap gimmick or a bold artistic stroke.
The supporting job does a fine job so far, but with no real presence in the show just yet. The one exception being Owen Wilson as Agent Mobius. As someone who has never been a fan of Owen Wilson in the past, I am blown away by how enjoyable he is in this show. When I first heard that he was cast in an MCU, I let out an audible, disgusted groan. I am officially apologizing to Mr. Wilson for my past detraction. His performance perfectly balances the dramedy elements of the show and his character serves as a perfect scene partner for Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. Not even Chris Hemsworth as his brother Thor had such palpable on-screen chemistry with the God of Mischief. As the show moves forward and expands its arc, Loki and Mobius’ partnership will (hopefully) be the lynchpin that brings the show together.
The show itself seems like an interesting expansion to the lore of the MCU. The Easter Eggs placed throughout the first episode feature interesting references to multiple MCU projects like WandaVision, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and more. If this pace keeps up, Loki could be the first Disney+ show to perfectly balance both character and plot development for the entire franchise.
Filmnetic Grade: A