Loki, despite worries of quality and caution from sane minds, is the best Marvel miniseries thus far. That is similar to saying you have a favourite flavour of petrol or have spent hours playing spot the difference with two identical images. Part and parcel moviemaking. These are the same core concepts with a fresh coat of paint. A cut and shut bit of branding that shuffles the deck of predictability and spills out another six-episode cluster. Aren’t we blessed? At least it takes a character whose interest has spiked not because of the writing, but because of the man that inhibits him. Surely, Loki would use that to its advantage? A dependable, reliant character who audiences know the story of.
Almost immediately, it is clear Loki needs to refresh the minds of the mouth breathers. As if we could not remember the infinitely dull moments of Avengers: Endgame, we are shown where and why Loki disappears. How his escape does not fundamentally change the tracks of time (as science-fiction is so often telling us) is beyond director Kate Harron. Why must we look into the psyche and the mental state of Loki? He is the villain audiences love to hate; therefore, he is now subject to the rigmarole of every other tortured, misunderstood soul of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Its notes of grief and free will are identical to Wandavision, just featuring a minor level of tact with Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson chumming it up. Sometimes, an origin story is best left undeveloped or understated. We do not need explanations for every little moment of this decade-long song and dance.
Its broader niceties and the design of the Time Variance Authority does not make logistical sense. A plot that relies on magic, McGuffins and mystery are unable to also incorporate vague elements of the Atomic Era design. There is a clash of conscience here, and with Herron so desperate to clog the machine, she is crushed under the overbearing weight of conformity. Tundra-shaped colours form the bulk of these walls and windows, never quite popping under the weight of creativity-shy producers. Herron does incorporate those Atomic Era moments somewhat competently, with animation that breaks the pace of underwhelming shot composition and completely asinine character development. Not even Richard E. Grant and his ineffable charms can save us. He couldn’t muster up much in Star Wars, why expect him to do so here?
Carried by the charm of Hiddleston, Loki is at least vaguely palatable. Still grimly in line with the rest of the grey paste process, but there are brief flutters found within. Not of originality or interest, but something different. When we have been exposed to grime and filth for a decade, even the slightest change in colour, from murky brown to burnt umber, there is change at least. “I don’t enjoy hurting people,” he says after having sent someone through a time loop. Before that, he is shown a slide show of all the times he enjoyed hurting people. No fluffy dialogue can change the actions of the past. Thus, the weak message of Loki shines through, the rehabilitation of a bad man. But he is brought to the forefront because the performance is good, not the role. Audiences have attached themselves to the God of Mischief, the slobbering fangirls screech as they see him. Well played, Marvel, you can profit on that for generations to come.