With Phase 4 of the MCU underway, the launch of Disney + and it’s three Marvel shows promised to serve as the introduction to the next step in the Marvel saga. Like the films that preceded them, each show was designed to bring back fan favourites while introducing new material that would drive forward the next part in the cinematic universe.
Loki, starring Tom Hiddleston as the Norse god of mischief, delivers a spectacularly uninteresting story that seems to serve as an indication of the uncertainty Disney has about how to handle its vision for the MCU. Although comprised of six, fifty-minute episodes, the show feels like an extended 2hr film and provides a cushy layer of unnecessary padding to complete the rest. What follows is a show that fails as a compelling story on most levels but will retain the viewers curiosity and interest with the incredible set design and special effects that a huge company like Disney can provide.
To be fair, the pilot episode of the show is a good introduction to the story and world. Loki, after he picks up the Tesseract, is arrested by dark-uniformed soldiers known as the Time Variance Authority. Their job is to stop (nexus) events that can trigger a split from the main timeline and dispose of such ‘variants’ as himself. Above all else, the “sacred” timeline must be preserved and when a variant starts killing TVA people, Loki is recruited by Agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) to help take it down. In the first episode we get a good sense of what the TVA does and the consequences if they fail to stop a diverging timeline (Multiverse of Madness anyone?). Clearly Loki and Mobius would work together to track down this variant and find out what their devious plans are to damage the TVA, all the while showing us more about this strange organisation that protects the timeline.
However, the next few episodes disappointingly show that the writers at Disney have not provided much of an answer to the mystery they’ve set up. Certain events delay the inevitable and the season finale feels like an excuse to provide a S2 of Loki (unsurprisingly).
One of the big problems with the show along with the padding is the apparent uncertainty which the writers behind it seem to have about their own universe. The TVA are shown to be extremely ineffective except for the main characters, Loki’s powers also rely on when they are useful to the plot and can appear and disappear when needed. All these problems and uncertainties mean that most high-tension scenarios are dealt with in ways that feel unjustified and against the logic that the show usually operates on. Overall, even diehard MCU fans will find Loki nothing more than an interesting diversion to watch while waiting for the next set of films to be released at the big screen. Perhaps this is exactly what the executives at Disney designed it to be after all.
Anton Rivas Pertile – Film & TV Writer