TV Review: 'Loki' is the Best MCU Series So Far
Wildly clever, inventive and uniquely designed, Loki is top notch comic book fare.
Loki is the single best thing the MCU has given us since it came into existence. Tom Hiddleston’s God of Mischief has long been the secret weapon of the MCU and now, standing out front, he’s fully the brand’s biggest breakout star. Loki is a wildly clever, intricately plotted, gorgeously imagined series that boasts one of the most talented supporting casts in the MCU and the best single premise of any modern Marvel franchise.
Loki returns Tom Hiddleston to the role he was born to play. When last we saw the God of Mischief he was in chains and seemingly headed to prison on Asgard to play out his part in Thor: The Dark World. Instead, through a mix up in the timeline, Loki got his hands on the Tesseract and bounced himself somewhere in the future. Before he can declare himself the God of this new place in the universe, he’s taken down by a future cop SWAT team led by Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku).
Loki has crossed paths with the Time Variance Authority. Sometime in the future of the MCU, three Gods arose and began eliminating the multiverse. These heretofore unknown Gods have, again some time in the future, pushed all of time into one time stream and have created the TVA to keep the timeline straight. Any variation in the timeline can create a parallel future, a time branch and these branches must be pruned to maintain the singular timeline. Thus, when Loki escaped into the future, he created a new branch.
Even Loki’s trickster powers are no match for the TVA which have weapons stronger than Loki’s magic and can neutralize him, to a point. Once at the TVA, Loki is put on trial. It appears that he is going to be killed or merely returned to his original timeline where he will play out the string on his fully predestined life. Things take a turn however, when Mobius (Owen Wilson) intervenes. Mobius is one of the top agents of the TVA and he has a crazy idea regarding Loki.
All over the time stream someone has been killing TVA Agents and making narrow escapes before the timeline is pruned. Mobius has the task of finding this mysterious Time Bandit and bringing the bandit to justice to protect the sacred timeline. Mobius’ crazy idea is that he can convince the mischievous and generally untrustworthy Loki to help in the investigation. Loki agrees but only because, of course, he has an ulterior motive.
That’s the set up for the first two episodes of Loki which are being dropped on Disney Plus simultaneously on June 9th. They are the first of a six episode run and the possibilities in these six episodes are delectable based on the premise revealed in these two episodes. Seeing Loki as a wisecracking detective in a series of mysteries with Owen Wilson as his put upon partner, is absolutely delightful. Hiddleston and Wilson are amazing, their chemistry is off the charts and the generous way Hiddleston welcomes Wilson as the equal of his ever so clever Loki is so well done.
The style of Loki is overflowing with originality and homage. The opening episode features an uproarious homage to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil with Loki as the subject of an uncaring, unrelenting bureaucracy. The style of the show shares the influence of Gilliam’s surrealism crossed with the office aesthetic of Mad Men. The TVA is a place out of time and the art direction gives it both a sixties and seventies feel but just alien enough to feel futuristic.
Then there is the time travel element which allows the remarkable art direction to do just about anything and you can sense the obvious delight Director Kate Herron is having with sets, costumes and the general aesthetic. It’s a joy to behold, the sets, costumes and design of Loki match the tone struck by Hiddleston and Wilson who could not possibly be having more fun on screen. It’s not so much jokes as it is a sense of two actors sharing a vibe together, a strong sense of fun in being in the same scene.
I mentioned Hiddleston’s generosity as a scene partner. This is just my sense of it but I feel Hiddleston has made Wilson at home here. He appears to be using Wilson and by extension the character of Mobius to expand on Loki as a character and that means allowing Wilson to get the better of him now and again. A lot of that is also in the wonderfully clever scripting but if the two actors weren’t feeling the general excitement of working together, even the most clever writing could fall flat. There is just a strong sense that Hiddleston and Wilson really enjoy each other and that feeling permeates the first two episodes of Loki.
I am absolutely stoked for more Loki. After the uneven experience of Wandavision and my general disappointment with Falcon and the Winter Soldier, I’m over the moon excited to have enjoyed Loki. I like having a strong Marvel project in the world and, based on the first two insanely great episodes of Loki, we could have one of the best things that the MCU has produced so far and a terrific next step into future of the MCU.
Loki debuts on Disney Plus on Wednesday, June 9th.