Our Take: 5 Stars
On June 9, Marvel’s “Loki ” premiered on DisneyPlus. The show is the final installment of three limited series planned to usher in Phase IV of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). “Loki” delves into the story of fan-favorite villain turned anti-hero, Loki, the God of Mischief (Tom Hiddleston, “Crimson Peak”).
The series accompanies sister shows “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and “WandaVision”, telling the story of the remaining Avengers after the conclusion of “Avengers: Endgame”. Unlike the other two series, which begin immediately following the conclusion of “Endgame”, Loki’s story begins in 2012, during the first Avengers movie, where he escapes capture due to the time-traveling hijinks seen in “Endgame.”
But his escape lands him in the hands of the Time Variance Authority (TVA), who prosecute him for veering off the path of the Sacred Timeline, the main timeline controlled by ominous, all-powerful beings known as the Time Keepers. TVA agent Mobius (Owen Wilson, “The Internship”) recruits Loki to help the TVA fix the timeline by hunting other, particularly dangerous variants — namely Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino, “Yesterday”), a variant of Loki, himself.
Director Kate Herron and creator Michael Waldron wield the chaos and confusion of Marvel’s expansive universe and the ins and outs of time travel to create a magical, fast-paced and fun-filled journey through space and time.
The humor and wit of the show’s dialogue works hand-in-hand with the action sequences to maintain the rapid tempo of the story. Despite the magical elements, the fast-paced action scenes captivate the audience by remaining grounded in reality.
However, Loki remains the focal point of the show. Throughout the Marvel films, his character development was limited and often overshadowed by his characteristic mischief and arrogance. His deeper moments are built around his relationship with other characters such as his brother, Thor, or his mother and father, Frigga and Odin. But “Loki” develops its characters with compelling precision, delving into the heart of its titular character.
For instance, Sylvie and Loki share the same origin but are from different timelines. The writers use this dynamic to enhance their character development. The characters are a mirror-image of each other. Their shared traits are what make them a compelling team, but the differing life experiences set them apart from each other. Loki has a vulnerability he gained from his relationship with his mother that Sylvie lacks.
Similarly, Mobius offers a juxtaposition to Loki as the sensible and empathic mentor, who sees Loki’s potential to help others. Where Sylvie demonstrates the potential of Loki’s power, Mobius shows the potential for
Loki’s conflicts with his own humanity are the driving force behind what makes his character compelling. Despite his power and arrogance, he deals with human issues. Throughout his time at the TVA, Loki has one clear goal — to find his “glorious purpose.” His desire to be a part of something greater than himself makes him accessible to audiences, and Hiddleston and the show’s writers bring this side of the character to the forefront of the narrative with profound care.
Hiddleston expertly balances the mischievous side of Loki that audiences have come to know and love with the more sensitive side that has merely been teased in the films. Moments of emotional reflection, grief and regret shine through the playful arrogance expected from the character.
Di Martino is the standout performer of the show. She expertly emulates the Loki characteristics crafted by Hiddleston in his ten years in the MCU while maintaining the fierce independence of her own character.
Sylvie demands individuality — to be free of the Loki moniker and the baggage that accompanies it — and Di Martino serves up self-determination and spirit in spades.
“Loki” brings wit and charm to the gritty world of ominous overlords and inter-dimensional conflict, lending levity to the dark and twisted universe of its flagship films.
“Loki” is available to stream on DisneyPlus.