So when Tom Hiddleston signed up for Thor, I can’t remember if former costar and movie director Kenneth Branagh convinced him to do it or didn’t think he should do it. Hiddleston was a star on the rise and the idea was you’d do your Marvel movie for scale plus and then the resulting roles would make you the mega-stars. Hiddleston could even do Oscar bait.
Fast forward ten years and neither Thor nor Hiddleston’s non-Thor career ended up shattering the cosmos. Plus Hiddleston died. Though he came back in the next movie. And “Loki” is the sequel to that movie, Avengers: Endgame, while also kind of a sequel to The Avengers, because Hiddleston’s playing the 2012 version of the character. It’s barely confusing because they have Hiddleston find out the truth by the end of the episode. So it’s also kind of Thor 2 for a second, like a better one, with the same big death because they recycle it here to give Hiddleston the exact same character development as he had before.
It’s a low okay episode. Like… no heavy lifting for anyone involved, including the writer (Michael Waldron) because he gets to do time travel stuff but nothing original. If “Loki” is based on a Marvel Comics thing—he’s working for the Time Variance Alliance or something—TVA—it’s a newer comic thing. Or old and obscure. But it seems like it’d be newer, because it uses so much time travel stuff from other media
And it’s fine. Recycled time travel tropes are part of the genre.
Though it does end up feeling like there’s only one more layer until the Fantastic Four is meeting a CGI Jack Kirby. Deep cut, just means they’re going really meta here. Because it lets Hiddleston be an amusing weasel. They even rush the rest of Hiddleston’s character development, more or less getting him to Infinity War mindset. All the flashbacks and flash forwards come during Hiddleston’s job interview at the TVA. Time traveling detective Owen Wilson, who flirts with lady judge Gugu Mbatha-Raw and bickers with tough lady guard Wunmi Mosaku, thinks Hiddleston’ll make a great agent.
Wilson’s laidback thing still works and grates nicely against Hiddleston’s petulant god thing. I’d say for at least a third of the episode, you can watch it for Wilson alone. The curiosity wears thin (along with Waldron’s plotting), but he’s really fun for a while.
Mbatha-Raw’s in a scene. She’ll be back later. Mosaku’s good, but it’s so far not a good part. She’s Hiddleston’s foil, someone he can torture for kicks and it not affect his appeal, which is… a weird flex and might become a problematic one.
There’s a big Jurassic Park 1 nod, makes you wonder who’s the fan.
“Loki”’s giving itself a really low bar. It’s the safest thing Marvel and Disney+ have done so far, but by a whole lot.
They also have the chance to legitimize “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and then don’t do it, which is sort of likably petty.