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MCU Disney+ Review – Loki

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I suppose that we should be looking at The Falcon And The Winter Soldier next but, given that one of the next big films due for release is Thor: Love And Thunder, then Loki seemed the obvious series to do next. Yes, I know that Dr Strange And The Multiverse Of Madness is due out next but, well, I think he’s in What If… which I’ll look at soon.

Talking of “looking at”, when Loki starts it is in New York City, 2012 which is, as you’ll remember, the end point of Avengers Assemble or The Avengers depending on, I think, which side of the Atlantic you’re on. It does actually cut back into the scene near the end when the assembled Avengers have defeated Loki and have the Tesseract back in their possession.


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I remember thinking “did that happen or are we being retconned?” Of course, the advantage of being in the here and now means that I can pause one thing and watch another. So I did. Guess what? It’s not exactly the same as the end bit of Avengers Assemble. Bits of it are the same but other bits are different.

So what’s going on? Are they playing around with the storyline to make the launch of the series go a bit more smoothly? Is it a blip in the timeline? And that’s when I remembered…they did fiddle around with the timeline! But not in a sneaky, underhand kind of way…I was looking at the wrong part of the timeline! Instead of concentrating on the Avengers Assemble version of Loki being caught I should have been looking seven years and fifteen films further along. 

Glorious Purpose

Instead of looking right at the beginning of the Avengers saga I should have been looking at the end! It is during Avengers: Endgame that the plot revolves around the team getting together and jumping back through time to, you guessed it, fiddle around with the timeline! And that is when you get to see the bits that are in the first few minutes of Loki!

And you do, well…I do, wonder did they write the film script knowing that they’d be using that bit at the beginning of the upcoming TV series. Or do they write the TV series beginning knowing that they’ve, effectively, got the first scene in the bag? Anyway, I’ve waffled on for this long and we’re only a few minutes into the series!

In fact, we’re only a shade under a minute and a quarter when the Marvel Studios ident pops up, this time finished in Loki green. Then comes the bit that makes me think that the film came first and they just saw a neat way of starting things off…the action jumps to, literally, the middle of the Gobi Desert and doesn’t look back.

Within minutes there is a kind of warbling noise and  a translucent oblong pops into view and out step a trio of heavily armoured men. Another oblong opens and out steps another armoured guard; this one’s in charge though. It then turns out that these armoured guards are the enforcement arm of the TVA.

The Variant

Ah…but who are the TVA? The Time Variance Authority was set up by the Time-Keepers. They came into being to bring an end to a vast multiversal war which saw countless timelines battling for supremacy. The Time-Keepers brought about peace by reorganising the multiverse into a single, sacred timeline.

The job of the TVA is to maintain the purity of that single, sacred timeline. Loki’s escape with the Tesseract in Avengers: Endgame resets the timeline which marks him as a ‘variant’ and brings him to the attention of the TVA.  The TVA main characters are Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) former TVA hunter and now a judge, Mobius M Mobius (Owen Wilson) an investigator, and Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) as the TVA hunter that arrests Loki.

Incidentally, I haven’t said who’s playing Loki because, well, it’s obviously Tom Hiddleston. However, thanks to the time splitting, multiversal nature there is more than Loki. They come in all genders, ages, races, and, even, species.  The main ones are Richard E Grant (Classic Loki), Jack Veal (Kid Loki), DeObia Oparei (Boastful Loki), and a CGI Crocodile Loki. There’s also Sophia Di Martino as Sylvie; she doesn’t identify as a Loki but we all know she is.

Lamentis

The usual limitations on not being able to say too much thanks to the ever present spectre of spoilerdom are in place but I think it is safe to say that the series leads up to a confrontation with the boss level baddy known as He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors). Apparently, he is some variation on the theme of Kang The Conqueror who may well mean something to the comic readers but is being lined up as the next Phase spanning bad guy now that Thanos is no more.

One thing that Loki has which will ensure that it gets watched and rewatched is the sheer number of Easter eggs. Remember Ralph Breaks The Internet? That film had a hundred and fifty Easter eggs crammed into less than two hours of runtime. I don’t know whether or not Loki beats the “greater than one a minute” rate but that’s because I haven’t managed to finish finding them all.

A dozen people could sit down and watch any episode. They could sit there with note pads, pens, and one simple instruction…write down everything that reminds you of another film/character/scene. When the credits finish there’ll be twelve pads full of scribbles but no two will be the same. To be honest it’s not even a question of watching and watching again.

The Nexus Event

There are Easter eggs even in the subtitles! In the end credits scene of Episode 4, The Nexus Event, Loki wakes up in the void and asks, “Am I in Hel?” The spelling is important—Hel is the realm ruled by Hela, his sister who caused world-ending trouble in Thor: Ragnarok.

Talking of Nexus Events…when they get introduced in the first episode they may have rung a bell. Perchance that’s because you were one of the many people scratching their heads over the commercial breaks in WandaVision. While some of the commercials had obvious connections to the plot of WandaVision or Wanda’s own life (the Stark Industries ToastMate 2000 toaster oven springs to mind), others seemed a bit more arcane.

One advert featured Nexus capsules and seemed to be a, pretty much, stand alone minute of screen time. That is until Loki hit our screens. The pill was described as “A unique anti-depressant that works to anchor you back to your reality. Or the reality of your choice.” Perhaps untrammelled Nexus events in the Lokiverse would re-establish multiverses.

And those unfettered multiverses could lead to a lot of breaches in reality and deviations from a sacred timeline. It could lead to chaos, anarchy, mayhem, pandemonium. Possibly even a Multiverse Of Madness…? It’s already common knowledge that Wanda Maximoff will be playing a part in the new Doctor Strange film; is this a hint that Loki might be too?

Journey Into Mystery

Talking of other storyline arcs, in Episode 4, The Nexus Event, Mobius discusses the various variants he’s encountered and these include “Kree, Titans, and Vampires.” The first two have been seen relatively recently but Vampires? For those you have to go back to the Blade trilogy which was way before the MCU was thought of.

That will change soon, though, as the absolutely wonderful Mahershala Ali will be playing the title role in the upcoming Blade reboot. In the Marvel comics, Blade is a half-human/half-vampire who has made it his mission to protect mortals from the undead. Personally, I can’t wait!

Episode 5, Journey Into Mystery, is an absolute treasure trove of visual Easter eggs. In this episode we are introduced to The Void. This is a purgatoryesque place where everybody and everything who fall foul of the TVA get dumped. There are so many things and people here that there are whole swathes of the internet devoted to what you can see.

For All Time. Always

Incidentally, the title, Journey Into Mystery, is taken from the comic book that Loki first appeared in; no.85 in October 1962 if you’re interested. The costume worn by Classic Loki (Richard E Grant) is modelled on the drawings in that edition and there’s probably other comic references but I haven’t read any since the sixties.

I did spot a couple myself though. In Episode 1, Glorious Purpose, Loki is processed after being apprehended. This involves having his armour removed. The floor opens up beneath him and he drops through the floor and lands downstairs in a TVA overall. It is reminiscent of the way Wallace got dressed in The Wrong Trousers. Also, in that scene, there is a quick look at a startled cat. It might just be me but I reminded me of Goose, the Flerken from Captain Marvel.

As well as the subtitle Easter egg there is at least one for those of us who like to read the credits. In Episode 3, Lamentis, the soldiers who guard the train to the Ark are listed as Corporal Hicks and Private Hudson in the end credits. They’re the names of Michael Biehn and Bill Paxton’s characters from the 1986 film Aliens! 

Trust me, there are many, many more! Oh…and it pops up here as well!

Grade: A+

 

MCU Disney+ Review – WandaVision

Movie Review – Black Widow

Movie Review – The Avengers

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