Photo by Chuck Zlotnick /Marvel Studios

It’s a foregone conclusion at this point that anything Marvel Studios puts out is going to be a hit. Your personal mileage may vary, but as a whole, the fandom is locked in. WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (read: Captain America and…) delivered some surprises, but overall we knew the direction they were taking us in. Marvel’s Loki differs from these two in its first episode alone by throwing most of my expectations out of the window.

Warning: If you haven’t watched the first episode of the Marvel and Disney Plus Series Loki, turn back, there will be spoilers.

Where Did We Last Leave Loki?

To start things off, Loki is picked up by the Time Variance Authority (Marvel’s Time Cops) very quickly. A lot of theories centered on the idea that Loki getting away with the Tesseract (the Space Stone) would be at the heart of the ‘time problems’. However, Loki being nabbed within the first 5 minutes and processed through the TVA shuts that all down.

The first episode is dedicated to tearing down the very being of Loki as a character at this point in his life. The God of Mischief has always been an antagonist, but as TVA Agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) puts it, Loki isn’t really a villain. His main purpose is to inspire those around him to be the best versions of themselves (mainly Thor and the Avengers.)

Photo Courtesy of Marvel Studios

The issue with Loki as a character is that through the Infinity Saga we saw the start, middle, and end of his character arc exactly as it should be. As others around him grow and learn, Loki shows promise of doing the same but keeps defaulting back to his factory settings and betraying people…until he doesn’t and dies trying to be the hero.

How Do You Fix Loki?

So, if it took all of the Infinity Saga to get Loki to a position where he finally tried to be the hero, how are you going to do the same thing in less time with the original Loki from The Avengers in 2012? This was the biggest concern I had for the show and I thought they’d spend at least the first few episodes figuring it out.

My theory was that Mobius and the TVA would essentially try to out-Loki the God of Mischief and spend some time using key points in time to attempt to manipulate him. For example, show him how he gets his mother killed but keep from him that he dies trying to be a hero. After all, if you’re going to convince Loki that he should do something heroic, you wouldn’t want to show him that ONE time he tries to be a hero…he dies.

Instead, the show puts all its cards on the table and begins with Mobius honestly trying to connect with Loki. Asking him about his true nature, why he does the things he does, and whether or not he actually enjoys hurting people. Throughout the Infinity Saga, no one was trying to help Loki and it was up to him to come to terms with himself. It took the death of his mother, his father, and his home being destroyed to finally step up to the plate.

Loki’s Chance To Be The Hero

Where the first episode really shines, is that it does allow Loki to be himself. He spends the entire first episode fighting against the TVA trying to escape and to his credit, as he always does, he finds a way out. But in the world of the TVA, powers don’t work, he gets his hands on the Tesseract and finds a drawer full of inert Infinity Stones. At this point, it finally starts to set in, that the world and his place in it are very small compared to the powers that be.

Finding his way back to his interrogation chamber, Loki then looks through all the moments of his life that had an impact. He sees the death of his mother, the last mournful yet loving moments with his father and Thor. He witnesses the last stand alongside his brother in Asgard and finally, his death at the hands of Thanos in Avengers Infinity War.

Photo by Chuck Zlotnick /Marvel Studios

Everything is laid bare and the God of Mischief is forced to reconcile his life with his current situation. Loki always looks for a way out and he always finds it, but when confronted with the truth that even if there is a way out it’s just going to lead to his end, Loki is forced to change.

No More Expectations

With this being just the first episode, we have no idea exactly what that change will look like and Loki will still continue to fight against the nature of his character. So, what then is the best way to keep him on track? To put him up against himself…Mobius informs Loki that he needs his help tracking down one of the worst time-offenders ever…Loki.

Within just the first episode of this series, all my theories are off the table. I don’t think Mobius is trying to manipulate Loki at all, but instead is trying to meet him at a place of mutual trust. So much of Loki’s character is based on betrayal and lying, that if the series doesn’t find a way to make him change then it’s doing nothing new with the character and is a waste of the audience’s time.

Unlike WandaVision and Captain America and the Winter Soldier, Loki is being set up to truly change the character on a fundamental level that even most of the comics haven’t allowed. In addition, Kevin Feige has stated that Loki will impact the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe more than the two Disney series that have come before it. For the first time, I’m totally unaware of how this is going to play out and at this point, only time will tell.

Marvel’s and Disney Plus’ Loki premieres on the streaming platform every Wednesday. Directed by Kate Herron it stars Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

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Photo by Chuck Zlotnick /Marvel Studios