|Producing||Kevin Feige, Stephen Broussard, Kate Herron, Tom Hiddleston|
|Writing||Michael Waldron, Larry Lieber, Bisha K. Ali, Elissa Karasik; based on characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirdy|
|Starring||Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sophia Di Martino, Wunmi Mosaku, Tara Strong|
|Genre||Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Comic Book|
|Release Date||June 9th, 2021|
Loki is an American television series produced by Marvel Studios for Disney’s straight-to-consumer streaming service, Disney+. The series is executive produced by Michael Waldron, who also serves as the show’s creator, head writer, and showrunner alongside Kate Herron as series director. Tom Hiddleston returns as the title character and also serves as an executive producer along with the head of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige.
Prior to the launch of Disney’s new direct to consumers streaming service Disney+, Disney announced a multitude of original content for the new streaming service. This would consist of original films and television series titles in the popular universes of Star Wars and Marvel. In the fall of 2018, Marvel Studios announced a number of original live-action series featuring characters from its cinematic universe. Kevin Feige, president of Marvel studios, confirmed these titles will be canon to the MCU and fit seamlessly alongside its cinematic counterparts. The first titles to be developed by Marvel Studios for Disney+ were “Wandavision” featuring Elizabeth Olson and Paul Bettany as Wanda Maximoff and Vision, “Falcon and Winter Soldier” featuring Anthony Mackie and Sabastian Stan as the title characters, and “Loki” featuring Tom Hiddleston as he reprises his role as the long-standing Marvel Cinematic Universe villain.
Development of the series began in February 2019 with the hiring of Michael Waldron as a writer for the series and Herron as director. Waldron is also currently writing the anticipated film “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” which is set to hit theaters in March 2022. The use of talent in front of and behind the camera and has been the focus of Feige’s approach to storytelling in the MCU. Focus on consistency and continuity is the priority. Stories and characters are not the only places where consistency is present; Marvel Studios has poured a huge amount of money into the series’ production to match seamlessly with the Marvel films. Estimated costs per episode are around $24 million to ensure the series is visually on par with the overall MCU. In the spring of 2019, Marvel Studios announced Owen Wilson and legendary voice performer Tara Strong as new hires in unknown roles. Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wunmi Mosaku, Eugene Cordero, Sophia Di Martino, and Sasha Lane were announced to round out the cast. Principal photography began in January 2020 with an original premiere date set for late 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, production of the series halted and the release date was pushed back to 2021.
Marvel Studios premiered the first episode of its six-part series on Disney+ on June 9, 2021. The anticipation was met with positive reception from critics and audiences. Critics have praised the series as seen on Rotten Tomatoes, where it holds a score of 92% and an audience score of 87%. Metacritic has scored the series with a 74 and IGN has given the series an amazing 9 out of 10. Although the majority of the critics agree the middle episodes for the short series are the weakest, this mystery series that explores the deeper elements of the Marvel Universe’s fantastical elements is a success as a whole. Loki was originally intended to be a single-season limited mini-series; however, the studio was extremely satisfied during its development…so much so, discussions began about possibly extending the show into a multiple-season series. Development of the second season of “Loki” began late 2020 with a release date yet to be announced.
Spiritual Content: Loki often refers to himself as the god of mischief. The series explores elements of a deity or a set of deities, specifically a trinity in the sacred Time Keepers who govern all of the events from the dawning of time to the end of time. Themes of faith, fate, predestination and free will are examined.
Violence: There is mild violence in the form of hand-to-hand combat with the use of weapons such as knives and swords.
Language/Crude Humor: There is little to no foul language or crude humor throughout the series
Sexual Content: There is little to no sexual content. Loki expresses his sexual orientation as being bisexual. Two characters develop romantic feelings for each other.
Drug/ Alcohol Use: Alcoholic beverages are consumed in one scene in an episode.
Other Negative Themes: Manipulation of will and control of the masses.
Positive Themes: The series heavily focuses on individuality and the need to become a better version of one’s self.
Disney+’s Loki series follows Tom Hiddleston as he reprises his role of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s favorite villain, Loki. The series tracks the character after his escape from S.H.E.I.L.D. using the Tesseract. After Loki picks up the Tesseract, he is transported thousands of miles away and lands on the other side of the planet. Just as Loki gains his bearings, an orange portal appears, and out of it comes soldiers dressed in black armor lead by Hunter B-15 (Lovecraft Country’s Wunmi Mosaku).
After an embarrassing arrest, Loki is brought through the portal and transported to the headquarters of the Time Variance Authority (TVA). The TVA is a bureaucratic organization whose purpose is to find and eliminate time variances. A time variance is a person or thing which goes against its appointed path and deviates from the sacred timeline as determined by the TVA and its rulers, The Time Keepers. The Time Keepers are a set of three beings who dictate and guard the timeline.
Loki is rushed through the booking process with no understanding of what is happening or where he is. It is not until he is forced to watch a video that plays in a waiting area similar to what you might see at your local DMV that he truly understands what’s going on. The video features Ms. Minutes, an animated character voiced by Tara Strong, as she explains what the TVA is, what they do, why people are transported there, and the process of judging variances. Once Loki is brought to the TVA, Judge Ravonna Renslayer (Belle and Concussion’s Gugu Mbatha-Raw) prepares to sentence him, but is interrupted by one of the TVA’s investigators named Mobius (Wedding Crashers, and You, Me, and Dupree’s Owen Wilson). Mobius requests to have Loki released under his authority to utilize Loki’s insights to help him with an ongoing investigation. The series continues as Loki and his unlikely ally investigate the mystery of who is attacking TVA agents in different time periods of the timeline and the true nature of the Time Variance Authority.
Marvel Studios once again proves there is no match to its storytelling capabilities. Loki is a series fraught with high-concept ideas that would have theologians and philosophers intertwined in profound conversations for hours. Although the seemingly complex plot would normally have viewers’ heads spinning, the series writers were able to deliver this puzzling story in a way that is easy to follow and simple to digest. Audiences can sit back and watch their favorite Marvel villain in a narrative that would cause theoretical physicists to fall off their seat, yet not leave the general audience in the dark.
The series is expertly written with dialogue that is catchy and witty. Viewers will not only be glued to their seats during the fantastic action sequences but also during the quiet conversations between all of the compelling characters. Although there is a slight dip in its pacing towards the middle of the series where the show feels like it’s grinding to a screeching halt, it uses that lull to catapult its pace with glorious purpose. Marvel Studios pulled out all the stops and introduced the most fantastical elements the MCU has seen thus far. Many of these concepts are pulled directly from the comic pages and are logically ridiculous; however, the series somehow manages to make the absurd plausible.
One of the series’ highlights is the relationship between Hiddleston’s Loki and Wilson’s Mobius – it’s one Marvel fans didn’t know they wanted. Many of the series’ high points consist of these two just talking. Though a fantasy mystery at its core, the show is riddled with comedy. Hiddleston and Wilson’s comedic chemistry explodes. Their opposing viewpoints along with Loki’s Shakespearean theatrics and Mobius’s straight man effect make for a comedic duo likened to Laural and Hardy or Abbott and Costello. Loki finds the perfect balance between dramatic tension and comedic gold.
Surrounding this dynamic duo is Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who perfectly embodies a bureaucratic pawn of the TVA. Wunmi Mosaku as Hunter B-15 is a sarcastic and formidable force the likes Loki has ever seen. The series also features Sophia Di Martino, who steals every scene she is in. She portrays a woman who possesses immense power and sadness (that’s all I can say, lest I spoil one of the biggest surprises of the series). Tara Strong provides her legendary voice skills to a wildly wacky character with possible malicious intentions. The series does a fantastic job at character development, especially with Loki who has already been introduced to us in multiple films.
Marvel Studios has found success in world-building by relying on character development and dialogue to establish its stories. The MCU does not use visuals as a crutch but to enhance the story. Loki continues this trend. The series is visually beautiful. Every scene is filled with dynamic design. The series must have the most easter eggs and visual references of any MCU title to date. Visual storytelling lends itself perfectly to multiple viewings. Similar to Disney+’s previous MCU series, Loki fits in perfectly with its cinematic counterparts. Marvel Studios did not hold back its budget, and we can see every worthwhile dollar on-screen. There are elements of familiarity throughout the series; however, there is something unfamiliar within the familiar. Loki takes the MCU’s multi-universal theories and turns them on their head. This time-traveling mystery will keep viewers’ heads spinning and wondering what’s coming next.
Loki is a masterpiece of visual storytelling and continues Marvel Studios’ track record of telling great stories with amazing character development. The series completes what it set out to do: Introduce the concept of multiple timelines, explore ideas of the multiverse, and reintroducing Loki with a new character arc. Although the end of the series will leave viewers a bit dissatisfied, it does deliver on its promise. This time-traveling mystery series will absolutely leave audiences wanting more. Thankfully, with the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel and the announcement of a second season of Loki, we will be able to revisit these characters we have come to care about.
I personally would have liked to have had more of a final resolution, but it does set up the trajectory of this new phase of the MCU. The series dives deep into philosophical ideas of free will and realizations of one’s true self. All in all, the series is a win for Marvel Studios as the third series set in its continuity. It’s a fun ride with great characters and an even greater plot. If the series’ only weakness is leaving the audience craving more, that’s a win.
The Bottom Line
Marvel Studios pulled out all the stops and introduces the most fantastical elements the MCU has seen thus far. Many of these concepts are pulled directly from the comic pages and are logically ridiculous, but the series somehow manages to make the absurd plausible.