To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Loki is the third of many Disney+ limited series and shows set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Meaning it shares continuity with the films of the franchise. Produced by Kevin Feige with Michael Waldron serving as head writer and Kate Herron directing, the series stars Tom Hiddleston, Sophia Di Martino, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wunmi Mosaku, Eugene Cordero, Tara Strong, Owen Wilson, Sasha Lane, Jack Veal, DeObia Oparei, Richard E. Grant, and Jonathan Majors. Taking place after, during, and before the events of Avengers: Endgame the story follows an alternate version of Loki created when he picked up the Tesseract during the Avengers’ time heist. He is soon arrested and brought to the mysterious Time Variance Authority (TVA), a bureaucratic organization that exists outside of time and space and monitors the Sacred Timeline. After realizing he cannot escape, Loki is given a choice: either face being erased from existence, or help the TVA stop a greater threat that’s been killing their Minutemen. To properly review a series such as Loki, some spoilers must be discussed so if you have not finished the show do not read any further.
After being picked up by the TVA, Loki realizes that infinity stones mean nothing outside of the Sacred Timeline. He agrees to help the TVA track down another Loki while secretly planning to take over the mysterious organization even though everybody knows this having dealt with an infinite amount of Loki variants before. It’s was very easy for Marvel Studios to make it feel like the same Loki we got to know over the past 10 years. In the first episode, Loki watches the events of his life from his capture in Avengers to his death in Avengers: Infinity War. Seeing this footage changes Loki from a homicidal maniac to a rebellious antihero in a relatively short amount of time. I feel this was done in part to make Loki more likable because we have already seen the ultimate villain in the form of Thanos and having Loki remain evil would not have made for a great show. While Loki has been fleshed out over many MCU films we get to see another side of the character. Actually, many sides, but I’ll get to that later. This is the first time we see Loki open his heart to someone and explain why he is the way he is. He’s broken and weak and wants to feel strong. He props himself up so that he can feel equal to those around him. Something probably brought on by being in the shadow of his brother Thor and amplified by finding out about his adoption.
The TVA introduces many brand-new characters such as Mobius M. Mobius and Ravonna Renslayer. These two are high-ranking agents of the TVA in their main goal is to protect the Sacred Timeline at all costs. Ravonna is very dedicated to the TVA while Mobius is more open-minded. They claim to have known each other for eons and have a relationship similar to when your best friend gets promoted and is technically your boss, but you still hang out. Mobius and Loki make a great buddy cop duo with Mobius being the straight man and Loki the chaotic neutral. While it’s great that we got a grand season finale with an epic reveal, the entire season could have worked fine with Mobius and Loki hunting the Loki variant throughout the timelines and getting to know each other better.
The standout new character is Sylvie. Sylvie of course is a female Loki variant and one of only two female Loki variants to appear in the show. One could argue that she is the main star and the show is actually about her. Sylvie was captured by the TVA as a child and her Nexus event is never explained. What makes her story more tragic is since the TVA exists outside of time, we do not know how long she has been on the run. She has been hiding out in Apocalypse events and could easily be around 40, 1000, or 1,000,000 years old if not older. During the first episode, we get to experience what Loki goes through after he is captured. He has no idea what’s going, he is stripped of his clothing and sent through all these bureaucratic sections of the TVA. Later we get to see some of Sylvie’s capture and she went through the same process. Now imagine having that done to a frightened child and then realizing your entire planetoid and timeline erased from existence. She never saw her family again. Getting revenge on the one responsible for these events is what drives her this entire season. What was taken from her she knows she can never get back so she wants to take everything away from the TVA. While this quest for revenge never goes away, it is somewhat softened by her growing love for Loki. It’s interesting for these two as they are essentially the same being and oddly, they learned to love themselves through each other.
In a role that was essentially just a cameo, Jonathan Majors shines as He Who Remains. Majors was cast as Kang the Conqueror in the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, but we get a little taste of how the character will be here. He Who Remains’ role is very exposition-heavy. He ultimately lays out how the rest of the Marvel movies are going to go from here on out. He says that there is a multiverse and that even though Loki and Sylvie view him as a villain his variants are far worse than he could ever be. One could say that He Who Remains is a tragic hero making the hard choice to keep everything peaceful. With his death at the end of the season, we can look forward to seeing him appear in many different forms throughout the rest of Phase Four.
In terms of visuals, everything seen is on par with a theatrically released MCU film. In line with WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the show is vastly better looking than previous Marvel television shows. With a reported budget of around $150 million, it looks like the money was used very well. There is a brilliant use of color and music in all the scenes. The TVA is bathed in technicolor light while the rest of the world seems a little dark and moody reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz. The best thing about the TVA is the mix of old outdated technology with futuristic technology. This makes their realm an amalgam of all time and it works splendidly. The score is also wonderful to listen to. it’s a blend of eerie-sounding string instruments and loud horns. Beckoning to film scores such as Inception. The fight choreography is also pretty well done with the editing allowing for viewers to see the entire room when fights take place. We also can see the different fighting styles of Loki and Sylvie and where they overlap.
I did feel that there were some inconsistencies within the rules set up in Loki. It is stated early on in the MCU that Loki is a frost giant from Jotunheim and the only reason that he looks like an Asgardian is because of a spell cast on him by Odin when he was a baby. This would make sense for Sylvie as well. The TVA is supposed to be a “magic-free zone” so as soon as Loki and Sylvie walked into the realm, they should have reverted to their Jotun forms. There are also times where we see Loki having a tough time fighting against normal humans. In Avengers we witness Loki tossing around Captain America, who is a super soldier like he was nothing. Now maybe being possessed by Sylvie gave these humans some degree of Jotun strength but it’s never explained. It would have also been appreciated to get more backstory with some of the characters such as Sylvie and Ravonna. With Sylvie, we find out nothing about the timeline she came from. All we know is that she knew she was adopted as a child and she had barely learned any magic. Was Thor also a woman in her timeline? Who were her parents? It would have been nice for an entire episode showing Sylvie’s backstory further servicing building up this character to who she is now. With Ravonna she is shown as Hunter A-23 in Sylvie’s flashback. At some point, she was promoted to Judge, but how promotions work in the TVA or what happened to her predecessor is left unknown. Lastly, once again, Disney tries to be inclusive by showing Loki and Sylvie as LGBTQIA+ characters in the show, but they don’t outright say it. In this instance, Sylvie asks Loki about love and if ever fell for a princess or prince. He reveals he has been with both, something Sylvie acknowledges of herself as well.
Overall, it was a very informative season that opened the door to infinite possibilities for the MCU. More episodes would have improved the pacing, but with COVID-19 putting a strain on production I understand. I give Loki Season 1 a Good 4.75/5. While it does leave a few too many questions to be resolved in the end to my liking, I’m ready for more seasons pronto. Hopefully, we get more backstory on Sylvie. Seeing her life on the run as she ages through time would have been fantastic to explore. And who was the mailman she was dating? Maybe these questions will be answered in the recently announced Season 2! If not we still have Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Spider-Man: No Way Home to look forward to.