Loki has finally dropped. You know what else dropped? My jaw, which hit the floor at the end of “Glorious Purpose”. This is going to be an incredible season, with far-reaching implications for the MCU as a whole.
If I’m honest with myself, I didn’t give much thought to what threat Loki would be helping the Time Variance Authority fight. As soon as I knew the TVA was involved I knew Loki would be expanding the cosmology of the MCU, so I went into “Glorious Purpose” mostly focused on seeing how much of the comics were going to make their way to the screen.
This is a big deal. Of all the TV shows Marvel has put out, Loki is shaping up to be the most impactful for the MCU at large.
I won’t say best or most important, because each MCU show has done a great job of selling its core tone and purpose.* WandaVision was an intensely contained story of love and grieving. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier walked us through how the world is different post-unSnap and helped bridge the gap between Steve Rogers Captain America and Sam Wilson Captain America. Loki seems to be headed towards a journey of self-reflection for everyone’s favorite trickster- but the main thing that strikes me during “Glorious Purpose” is how much of a game-changer this is.
The entire history of the MCU has laid out the interconnected web of powers and entities that make up the Marvel universe. There’s been a slow but inevitable power creep as the movies needed bigger and scarier villains. That kind of thing can kill comics, and I’ve been worried about how it was going to affect the MCU.
The first two shows did dial the threat levels back a lot, reflecting how smaller groups of heroes can still be challenged by non-cosmic threats. Eventually, though, the Avengers will gather again. Hopefully, Loki will set the stage for future movies to explain how Marvel is handling the power creep when the new lineup gets together.
That’s why I was so hyperfocused on the TVA and how they were handled. Pretty quickly, though, I remembered why the MCU has been so successful for so long: it has heart.
Loki as we see him in “Glorious Purpose” is fresh from his thwarted collaboration with Thanos. Remember that? The one we all hand-wave as “well he was controlled by the Mind Stone so he can’t be held accountable for his actions”? This is that Loki, who’s recently spent a while having his hatred of his brother and of humanity in general magically amplified.
Maybe Hulk managed to knock some sense into him (literally, because head injuries are canonically how you break free of the Mind Stone) but this isn’t the mischievous but heroic Loki who died in Infinity War. This Loki is still reeling from the series of traumas that is his recent life.
Tom Hiddleston does an incredible job of making that clear, too. He doesn’t have to remind us that this is au!Loki. We can tell from his mannerisms, the way he responds to threats, and how he handles the reveal of how his life was supposed to play out.
I don’t know if anyone else in the MCU is aware right now of how Thanos used Loki to break the Asgardians into bite-sized bits, but I feel like you can see the realization in Loki’s face as he watches his TVA tape. In a very real sense, he was the reason Asgard couldn’t stand strong against Thanos. They were already broken from the inside… by Loki, with careful direction by Thanos.
Ouch. To see that he’s the cause of his family’s downfall while not even being the main villain- well, that’s gotta sting.
With all that self-reflection going on, maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised by the Big Reveal that a Loki variant is the series villain (well… as much as we can say that after one episode). But I was! The show put so much heart in between comedic beats that I was gloriously blindsided when Agent Mobius laid his cards on the table.
Six episodes of Loki v Loki. I’m delighted by this. How will it even work? Will one be obviously villainous, trying to burn everything to the ground so he can rule what remains while the other finds his inner hero? Will they try and out-plot each other? Will they work together?
Are there more Loki variants out there?
I’m not sure where the series is going. We all know something will happen to line up Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, so odds are good the TVA won’t be as in control of things as they seem to be at the start of “Glorious Purpose”. Other than that, I’m not willing to place any bets.
Except one. Somehow, some way, Loki will find his way back to existence. I personally vote for the teenaged Loki from the comics. As much as I love Tom Hiddleston he won’t want to play Loki on-screen forever. This is both a logical and an emotionally resonant moment to recast with minimal disruption. Very few franchises get this kind of opportunity; let’s hope Marvel Studios doesn’t pass it by. We can always have Hiddleston drop by his younger self for cameos.
A few things I want to call out:
- “What if I was a robot and I didn’t know it?” Loki, you absolute banana, you know for a fact you’re a Frost Giant. That started your whole intergalactic villain arc. Before that, you were just hoping to rule Asgard.
- The casual “business as usual” attitude of the TVA crew is spot on. They’re literally born to their jobs. Of course, they’re not going to be impressed by the variant of a single deity. It does make for an interesting situation for Loki, who’s used to being taken as the threat he is.
- Does the trial system seem like a pantomime to anyone else? If people had an okay reason to be disrupting the timeline they wouldn’t be up before the TVA. I guess I’m glad they give people a chance to explain themselves, but still…
- Wait, did Steve Rogers have to explain himself to a TVA judge? Because I can see them being upset over the time shenanigans, then being won over by a human who can lift Mjolnir (but didn’t until he had to, to spare his friend’s feelings).
- Agent Mobius has such a soft, compassionate demeanor. I both like him and am convinced he’ll have a heel turn at some point. Anyone else waiting? Have I become too paranoid?
- In the comics, weren’t most of the TVA peeps clones? We get more diversity in the show, which I’m in favor of since it lets the showrunners cast a wide net of actors.
Finally… there are so many Infinity Stones lying around that people use them as paperweights? It certainly does illustrate the power differential but PEOPLE DIED FOR THOSE AND THESE FOLKS ARE PROPPING UP WONKY DESKS WITH THEM?
— champagne mami (@emmakincaid0) June 9, 2021
One more week to find out how this Other Loki Variant came to be skipping madly through the multiverse. I’m a little curious as to why we didn’t see his face if we know who he is, but only time will tell.
Have you seen “Glorious Purpose” yet? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Khai is a writer, anthropologist, and games enthusiast. She is co-editor (alongside Alex DeCampi) of and contributor to “True War Stories”, a comic anthology published by Z2 Comics. When she’s not writing or creating games, Khai likes to run more tabletop RPGs than one person should reasonably juggle.
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