'Loki' captures Marvel villain 'at his most dangerous' and plays 'vital' part of Phase 4

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After playing second fiddle to Thor for over a decade in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tom Hiddleston’s shape-shifting Loki went from being a dastardly villain to a misunderstood agent of chaos.

He became the bad guy everyone could love.

But in the Disney+ series, the God of Mischief that audiences will be getting reintroduced to has had none of the redemptive character arc he underwent in Thor: The Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok before meeting his end at the hands of Thanos (Josh Brolin) in Avengers: Infinity War. Instead, the Loki that we are catching up with is the one who stole the Tesseract during the time heist scene in Avengers: Endgame. In other words: he’s not a nice guy whatsoever.

“He’s just lost the Battle of New York in the first Avengers movie and he’s desperate when we meet him,” the series’ head writer Michael Waldron says in a Zoom call. “We had a Loki who had a little bit of redemption, but that guy’s dead. We saw what happened to him. This is a Loki that’s probably at his most dangerous.”

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Waldron, who was hand-picked by Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige to write the six-episode show, casts Loki in a new story that finds the antihero teaming up with Agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) and the Time Variance Authority to stop our universe from imploding.

He's an outcast who has lived in the shadow of an older sibling and all he wants is acceptance and love. So he's driven to do things he might regret, and I think that's something we can all relate to

Loki head writer Michael Waldron on the appeal of Marvel's god of Mischief

And following WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki is set to push the Marvel’s Phase 4 in a bold new direction.

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“It’s our intention for this show to be as vital as any movie and to have a big impact on the MCU moving forward,” says Waldron, who also took over writing duties on the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel.

It’s unique compared to the other Marvel shows we’ve seen this year. How did you want to differentiate Loki from WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and put your own fingerprints on it?

We just wanted to take big swings. We were encouraged to do that from the top down to take big chances. So I challenged our writers every step of the way to ask, ‘What is the craziest solution to every problem we have?’ That always felt exciting. We just wanted to be bold and chaotic. We wanted the experience of the show to feel like what it’s like to interact with Loki.

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Prior to this, you had no connection to anything Marvel or anything comic book related. You were an assistant on Community and a writer on Rick & Morty. How did you get handed the keys to this project?

I told you Marvel takes big chances and hiring me to do this show is probably the biggest one of all … (Marvel Studios boss) Kevin (Feige) is a big Rick & Morty fan, so I think that helped. The people at Marvel, to their credit, don’t really care about your credits. They respond to passion, and they put a lot of trust in me. I feel very fortunate.

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In the debut episode, Loki has to watch his own greatest hits. Did you go back and watch some of those earlier Marvel movies he featured in to get his characterization right?

I did. Over and over again. I watched all the movies with Loki, but I also watched MCU movies over and over to identify what I loved about the Marvel movies and what I thought really worked and where I thought we could take it that would be exciting.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku).
Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku). Photo by Chuck Zlotnick /Marvel Studios

This is going to have some impact beyond the six-episode series. Did you have free reign or were there boundaries you had to stick between?

There’s a blueprint over there, but the mandate is always, ‘Make the thing that you are making the best thing possible.’ So we were trying to make Loki the best show we could and then we trusted that it would organically fit in the broader world of the MCU.

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Time travel is such a debated thing in pop culture. How did you seek to get those elements right in the show? 

I knew, especially because this is a six-hour TV show, that there’s going to be a week between each of these episodes where people can scrutinize the show and pick apart our time travel logic. So we worked hard to build a foundational bit of science-fiction that can hopefully withstand scrutiny week to week.

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As someone who eagerly watches these shows and then reads the fan theories online, how many Easter eggs should people be keeping their eye out for?

I love Easter eggs. I think, like any Marvel show, watch it a couple of times and press pause … You never know what you might find.

How did Tom suggest ways to revisit Loki? After all, he’s been playing him for over a decade.

Tom was my biggest resource on the character. He is Loki. He and I sat together and discussed different inspirations for the character’s journey and he helped me with dialogue and how Loki might say something. He had a great perspective on that.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku).
Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku). Marvel Studios

Owen Wilson is new to this comic book world. What was it like getting him to sign on as Agent Mobius?

Look, we’re so lucky to have him. Mobius was a largely an original character because there isn’t a lot to him in the comics. I had the pleasure of getting to imagine who that guy might be. To get Owen to come in and elevate that character was awesome.

Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson star in Loki.
Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson star in Loki. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick /Marvel Studios

Why do you think Loki resonated with Marvel fans for as long as he did?

Folks see themselves in him … he’s a charming villain that Tom Hiddleston imbues with a likability. But there’s a vulnerability to Loki. He’s an outcast who has lived in the shadow of an older sibling and all he wants is acceptance and love. So he’s driven to do things he might regret, and I think that’s something we can all relate to. He’s very human despite being a God. That’s something that’s great about all the Marvel comic heroes. The humanity of these powerful characters and I think Loki represents that so well.

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Tom Hiddleston in a scene from Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok.
Tom Hiddleston in a scene from Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok. Marvel Studios

You wrote Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which is out next year. What can we expect from that sequel?

It’s a Sam Raimi movie, so I think that says it all. It’s a Sam Raimi blockbuster superhero movie. That should be enough to get anyone excited.

How did that job come to you? Did Marvel get it in tandem with Loki?

It came after. While we were writing Loki and as I was getting ready to go be on the set, there was some creative turnover on Doctor Strange and Marvel called me up and wanted me to jump onto that. Loki was in good shape, one of my (other) writers, Eric Martin, went and he was on set … It was cool to have my hands on two of these projects at once.

This is a brand-new era for the MCU. What can people anticipate from this next phase of Marvel?

Look at what you’ve already seen with a show like WandaVision. We can take chances — probably even bigger chances — in the MCU than ever before. After the success of Avengers: Endgame, there was the question of: where do you go from here? That’s both from a filmmaking standpoint, but also for the characters. It was a seismic event, but it’s thrilling to be making TV shows and movies in the aftermath of the Infinity Saga.

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So I think you’re going to keep seeing bigger, bolder choices and cool filmmakers and out of the box creative decisions. Everything that made Marvel so successful and innovative over the past decade they’re just going to keep doing I think throughout this next phase and beyond.

New episodes of Loki stream Wednesdays on Disney+

mdaniell@postmedia.com

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