Loki Hasn’t Earned His Second Chance in the MCU
It’s been a very good year for the Marvel Cinematic Universe Fandom thanks to the releases of WandaVision and Captain America and the Winter Soldier, plus Black Widow just hit theaters. Marvel and Disney Plus have once again redefined what long-form storytelling is capable of through the use of limited series in conjunction with blockbuster movie releases. But has Loki stacked up to the Scarlet Witch and Captain America?
WandaVision served two purposes, the first of which was to give us a deeper and more impactful look at the characters of Wanda Maximoff and The Vision. As ancillary characters in the tent pole franchise of the Avengers, most of their relationship happened off screen and fans were left to just accept that their romance blossomed into someone worth our time.
Through WandaVision we got a better look at what that relationship meant to both of them. The show also funneled all of this through the lens of Wanda’s PTSD and the trauma she’s faced throughout her entire life. It was a poignant examination of her character and one we wouldn’t not have gotten anywhere else. It set an incredibly high bar for all of the Marvel and Disney Plus shows to follow.
By the same token, Captain America and the Winter Soldier (it’s no longer Falcon and the Winter Soldier, FYI) took two characters who served as support for the main cast in the Avengers movies and gave them time to explore their world and their lives. Both Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes were minor reflections of Steve Rogers throughout the feature films; they were there to lift up and push forward the star of the show.
But in their own series they had a chance not just to show the audience their wider world, through family and past memories, they had a chance to grow themselves. Sam got to understand what the mantle of Captain America could mean to future generations and Bucky was finally able to reconcile with and start the process of healing his past. We also got the clearest look yet at the consequences of the blip.
So, how does Loki follow in these steps? The short answer is, that it doesn’t and that shouldn’t be a bad thing but in this case it is. After all but the finale of the Loki Series I find myself asking what the point is? What are we getting out of Loki that we wouldn’t or couldn’t have gotten otherwise?
I like the show, the ideas that it’s playing with are fun and they have a place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but they feel unearned. Loki peaked for me in episode one when he realized the power the Time Keepers and the Time Variance Authority hold. It forced him to witness and reconcile with the fact that his entire family dies having loved him and in some cases, it being his fault. It was heart wrenching, it forced Loki to confront the worst of himself and then…nothing really.
Throughout the rest of the series so far, we get vague mentions of “I lost everyone,” or Loki getting drunk off-screen probably to drown out the guilt, but to what effect? The whole point of the Loki Series was for him to change, otherwise why bring him back at all? He, unlike Wanda, Vision, Sam or Bucky, had a complete story arc start to finish in the mainline movies. If Marvel is going to bring him back you have to show us something new.
Using his guilt and his need for some kind of redemption as the focal point of the show would have elevated it to the same level as the last two Marvel series. But, so far, despite being told by Loki himself that he’s changed, I remain unconvinced.
The entire series is full of moments like this, ideas that on paper are epic, deep and should be meaningful but when executed feel bland and unearned. Even Sylvie Lushton, the female Loki that everyone has fallen in love with (Loki included) is an empty shell filled with Tom Hiddleston-isms, but she’s not Tom so she seems fresh and new. I love Syvlie, but I don’t know why? She hasn’t shown us anything we haven’t seen in Loki himself.
Even when we finally got a look into her past to find out what makes her tick, what makes her more dangerous, more cunning than all the other Gods of Mischief, it turns out it’s just because she’s a girl? Sylvie deserves more than a 30 seconds flashback to explain her pain and what drives her. Instead of an entire episode of her running around a dying planet with Loki bickering, we should’ve gotten a proper look into her past and what brought her to the place she is now.
Everything in the show has been interesting plot threads thrown at a wall but never really explored. The massive Nexus event that got the entire TVA to move out, was thrown away as a distraction plot and dealt with off-screen between episodes. Loki and Sylvie fell in love because the plot demands it, even though we haven’t really seen much to explain it. Ravonna Renslayer continues to be a weak antagonist, if she’s even meant to be the that at all, the show hasn’t convinced me one way or another.
I do like the show, regardless of how my bickering may sound, but after WandaVision and Captain and the Winter Soldier, I just wanted it to do more than let Loki be Loki and in the end probably give us the Multiverse. How, in 6 episodes of running around the timelines is the best Loki gets is a few short seconds with a facsimile of Sif and not a chance to reconcile with his brother?
With one episode left to go and many questions left unanswered and answers left unfilled it’s doubtful that Loki will suddenly live up to its glorious purpose. But, at the very least hopefully the end is a satisfying start for the next stage of the multiverse’s birth and hopefully our march towards a version of Marvel Comic’s Secret Wars.
Marvel’s Loki Series on Disney Plus is directed by Kate Herron and produced by Michael Waldron. It stars Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, Sophie Di Martino and Gugu M’batha-Raw, Richard E Grant and Sasha Lane. It premieres on Wednesdays on Disney Plus Streaming.
Feature Photo by Chuck Zlotnick /Marvel Studios