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Tom Hiddleston as the title character in Disney+’s ‘Loki’
Photo: Disney+

‘Loki’ Is Okay

I gotta speak my truth about Marvel’s hit Disney+ show

I watch Marvel movies and their recent exclusive Disney+ TV series for the same reason I eat French fries: when they’re good they’re fantastic and when they’re soggy and cold, I eat them anyway because I am a mindless consumer, a hungry buzzard swallowing whatever’s hot and rotting and plentiful. I cannot wait to see Black Widow this weekend. The blockbuster starring Scarlet Johannsen as Avenger Black Widow was postponed by the pandemic and I don’t care if it’s good or not.

If I love it I will see it a second time and if I don’t really like it, I’ll see it a second time. So there. I hope you understand where I’m coming from. I happily watch whatever Marvel Studios produce, even when those productions are… okay. And Marvel Studios’ newest TV series Loki is okay. All their shows have been okay. You know, good enough. Entertaining! Well-made! Impeccably cast! But, ultimately, *shrug*.

They all get points for ambition, especially the first series WandaVision, which mixed a tragic superhero love story with a love letter-slash-deconstruction of the American TV sitcom, a beloved and maligned genre. That series peaked with a villain’s reveal that triggered a Munsters-style theme song mid-show. The follow-up show, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, was a buddy-action show starring two tenderhearted heroes that wanted to spark a big discussion about America’s dark racial past.

Both shows failed to live up to their promises though, likely victims of the wisdom of corporate groupthink.

WandaVision toyed with reality and dug deep into grief and Falcon and the Winter Soldier introduced us to a Black supersoldier who had been abused by the same US government that created Captain America, but by the series end, there must be spectacular fights and nods to future Marvel storylines, because every Marvel property is an advertisement for a future Marvel property.

This brings me to Loki, a show about the popular god of mischief, Thor’s brother and nemesis, played by sly nerd hunk Tom Hiddleston. This show also directly connects to the Marvel movie universe: in the epic Infinity Stone finale Avengers: Endgame villain Thanos murders Loki, recently redeemed, and then, later, after traveling back in time, an older more evil version of Loki is allowed to escape the Avengers.

This creates an alternate timeline and introduces us to a bunch of time cops who work for the Time Variance Authority, a cosmic bureaucracy that protects time. From the get-go, there is something fishy about the TVA and the mysterious TimeKeepers who created the agency, and the underlying mystery — who runs this seemingly all-powerful temporal police force — gets more boring with each episode.

Thankfully the casting saves the series, starting with Hiddleston who really acts the hell out of a role that is written inconsistently. This Loki goes from “I just tried to destroy Earth” to nice guy demigod fairly quickly and I can never tell if he is supposed to be clever and powerful or not because he is so often neither.

The main time cop is a dude named Mobius played by Owen Wilson, a bit of surprise casting of an underrated actor whose warm, melancholic charms are missed in the movies, in my opinion. Loki is mostly about rebel timelines featuring different kinds of Lokis, and the introduction of a female Loki is fun, especially since Sophia Di Martino is both snarky and badass. Recently, in what amounts to an extended cameo, veteran character actor Richard E. Grant shows up as an especially sardonic version of Loki ripped straight from the pages of 1960s comic books and this appearance is, to me, Marvel Studios’ peak.

Loki started out with big questions and so far, the answers are underwhelming. Each episode features at least one Easter Egg — -a reference to Marvel mythology — but that’s just meant to make fans feel good about themselves, reinforcing their brand loyalty. Online, at least, the bond between fan and corporate intellectual property is as strong as a mother and son. Nothing can separate them. Their embrace can only be made tighter. And to threaten their love is to risk primal wrath.

I do not write that Loki is okay lightly. I know it’s dangerous to suggest a Marvel TV show or a movie based on DC Comics, or, I don’t know, Star Wars is anything less than exemplary, cultural artifacts that deserve to be launched into interstellar space so that aliens know that humanity is an advanced species. Only intelligent life would tell such stories of heroism and, also, corporate synergy!

But yes Loki is okay. It’s fine. Soggy, cold, but I watch every episode and fast-forward through the credits just in case there’s a credit scene, an Easter Egg, a lil’ something that will make me feel like king fucking nerd. I have no theories about what will happen next on Loki because I like to be surprised, even mildly.

Look, it’s just my opinion. The internet is the only place where a seemingly rational person could think a company like Disney is David and wee blogger John DeVore is Goliath. My criticisms of Disney/Marvel are but gnats to that multi-billion-dollar media hydra. And it doesn’t matter anyway because I will watch Marvel movies and TV shows and read the comics until the day I die.

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by John DeVore

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John DeVore

John DeVore

I created Humungus, a blog about pop culture, politics, and feelings. Support the madness: https://johndevore.medium.com/membership

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