Don’t sweat the details.
That’s my best advice on how to enjoy Disney+’s newest Marvel Cinematic Universe TV series, Loki, which stars Tom Hiddleston as the infamous God of Mischief. After making several appearances in various MCU films, Loki died in Avengers: Infinity War at the hands of big baddie Thanos. However, Avengers: Endgame rewrote the rules, introducing multiple realities – or the multiverse.
And enter Loki from an alternate reality.
If that confuses you, then the new Disney+ TV series will made your head spin.
Loki doubles down on the multiverse concept, introducing the Time Variance Authority. The TVA essentially serves as a bureaucratic entity existing outside of time. They’re charged with protecting the integrity of the main line universe and eliminating spin-off timelines and “variants” who cause these multiverse opportunities. Naturally, the existence of a new Loki causes havoc within the relative peace and harmony of the TVA.
But don’t sweat the details.
Loki and its creative team understands these concepts will primarily sail over the heads of casual viewers. I suspect those who know and read comics will have no trouble following the events of the series. In an attempt to make the proceedings considerably more accessible, the whole enterprise adopts a highly throw-away comic tone. The closest thing to which I can relate Loki is the sci-fi fav The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which I do realize is not a mainstream artifact. The creative team – led by series creator Michael Waldron (writer for Community, Rick and Morty) – draws heavily on jokes about office politics, red tape, and other things seen in something like Office Space. It’s a winning combination as it gives audiences something comical to absorb when eyes start glazing over.
That’s not to say the series is impenetrable.
It can be a lot of fun, and the combination of Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson (as a TVA bureaucrat) unexpectedly emerges as an inspired comic pairing. With Hiddleston continuing to evolve Loki as what will likely be his greatest acting achievement, the two actors have chemistry to spare, and they somehow manage to spin the pages and pages of Loki-centered psychobabble into something light and airy. I was also impressed by Wunmi Mosaku’s (Lovecraft Country) performance as a TVA cop. The actress continues to show new dimensions with every single performance, displaying an astonishingly deep range for a relatively unknown actress. I cannot wait to see what she does next.
Loki also further proves (along with WandaVision) that the MCU TV series have a better sense of visual style than the films. Where the films often adopt the same flat grey and blue hues, I could rewatch (and definitely will) the series for the production design, costumes, and amber-hued cinematography.
As these series continue to roll out, I wonder how long casual audiences will maintain their appetite for such deep Marvel-specific details. I read these comics as a kid, and I have a pretty strong patience for Marvel TV. Yet, even I was a little lost in the exposition and copious throw-away character references. Ultimately, Loki will please audiences because it achieves that seemingly patent MCU balance of geek service and flippant comic timing. But it makes me appreciate WandaVision – a show I really liked quite a bit – even more thanks to its resonant themes of loss and denial.
Loki, so far, seems entirely satisfied with existing primarily for the hardcore Marvel fans with a few Office jokes tossed in for good measure.
Given that, don’t sweat the details. Just go along for the ride.
Loki premieres tomorrow on Disney+.