Major spoilers ahead!
I’m so glad I decided to dedicate the last near-week to catching up on the Marvel Cinematic Universe television series on Disney+. I felt that way after watching Falcon and the Winter Soldier and WandaVision, but it’s even more pronounced after watching Loki. The television series following the character of the same name, Thor’s brother and the first antagonist for The Avengers in 2012, is the first shot fired in the cataclysm that will ripple across Phase Four of the MCU. It’s vital to see how that first shot came to be!
To back up, I was highly skeptical of Loki as a starting premise. First, shows and movies centered on villains can be difficult to pull-off because the whole point of a villain is that they are secondary and a foil to the hero. Secondly, admittedly, for whatever reason, I’ve never been much of an Owen Wilson fan.
Whew, was I mighty wrong on both fronts.
So, Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston) during the Battle of New York in 2012 stole the Tesseract (which actually occurred in 2019’s Endgame), which causes him, in the show, to be arrested by the Time Variance Authority. The TVA is an organization that exists out outside of time and space to “monitor the sacred timeline.” Anyone who veers from the sacred timeline, called a “nexus event,” is subject to reset (meaning, their minds are wiped clean and they are brainwashed into being subordinates to the TVA) or pruning (meaning, they are sent to the void at the end of time, which is guarded by a gargantuan scary creature called Alioth). Such entities are referred to as “variants” by the TVA, i.e., variants of the sacred timeline.
Loki was going to face reset, I believe, when Mobius (played by Wilson), of the TVA, steps in and believes Loki can be useful in helping the TVA catch someone playing havoc with the timeline, an alternate Loki, Lady Loki or Sylvie (played by Sophia Di Martino).
Lady Loki is ticked off with the TVA, rightly, because they stole her as a child from Asgard and were going to reset her. She learns that everyone at the TVA are variants and that the three Timekeepers who supposedly created the TVA and oversee the timeline and are still writing the “end of time,” are actually androids, aka fake. So, who set up the TVA and is overseeing this “sacred timeline”?
Kang the Destroyer, or He Who Remains (played by Jonathan Majors who has an appropriately scary chaotic energy to him). After enchanting Alioth and making it to the Citadel at the End of Time, Loki and Sylvie meet Kang. Kang explains to them that he ended a multiversal war caused by variants (of himself) and isolated his timeline to create the TVA and guard the “sacred timeline” to prevent further multiversal wars. But, he’s tired now. He’s been doing this for a millennia or more, who knows, all by himself. He tells the two Lokis to kill him and risk another multiversal war or just take his throne and keep overseeing the TVA and the singular timeline.
The two Lokis disagree though. Loki, who has come to see the errors of his ways and in fact, has fallen in love with Sylvie, thinks it would be a bad idea to kill Kang. He believes rightly that there is something bigger going on here; it’s bigger than either of them or their personal issues. Sylvie, who has been broken since she was a kid, has no trust even for Loki and has been hellbent on vengeance, disagrees and kills Kang.
Whoops. When she sends the dagger into his heart, Kang winks and ominously says, “See you soon.” At the moment, Sylvie knows she done messed up.
Sylvie used a TemPad bracelet (the device that allows TVA members to travel through time and space) to get Loki out of her way. When Loki comes to in the TVA building, he finds Mobius, who had believed Loki about the evils of the TVA and was sent to the Void for it and was able to return, and Hunter B-15 (played by Wunmi Mosaku), who had the same change of heart. When he tries to sound the alarm bells, neither Mobius nor Hunter B-15 know who Loki is or what he’s talking about! I get chills writing that and reliving it in my head. That’s because the timeline has already changed. The final image then pans to a huge statue of Kang the Conquer indicating that the multiverse madness has begun.
That recap sounds like a lot, right? Complicated and in need of a lot of exposition, right? At first blush, sure, but through six episodes of Loki, Marvel and the brilliant acting of everyone involved, including Wilson much to my surprise, they pull it off masterfully. They were also aided by the stunning, game-changing soundtrack provided by Natalie Holt. I loved the soundtrack. It was appropriately haunting and Twilight Zone-like.
The show was funny (I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the hilarity of a Loki alligator), heart-breaking, gut-wrenching, wowing (with movie-level special effects), mind-bending and even had me thinking about free will, predetermination and all that fun jazz. What a brilliant show.
And perhaps the most brilliant aspect of all of this is Kang. Consider, for 10 years — 10 years! — the MCU built up the threat of Thanos. Thanos was seemingly the ultimate villain and challenge for the Avengers. He wiped out half the universe with a snap of his fingers! So, how do you follow that up? It seems like an insurmountable challenge. That any villain you choose will seem less-than by comparison.
Yet, with six episodes and really, one episode featuring Kang himself, Marvel established the threat of Kang and made me believe that this is going to be WILD. I can’t wait to see how this all develops going forward with a second season of Loki, Kang appearing in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania in 2023 and of course, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
As I said before, my favorite character in the MCU is the Scarlet Witch/Wanda. I believe, if she stays on the “good” side, she is the one to lean on to help take down Kang.
Marvel is awesome and I love that they are fully leaning into the crazy madness that lies within the pages of comic books. Now that they’ve opened the world to multiverses, there is so much they can do and play with. I’m ready. Let’s go!