Comics On TV

Loki Is Let Off His MCU Leash in the First Episode of His Solo Series

What the first episode of new Marvel show Loki tells us about its place in the MCU, the multiverse (of madness or otherwise), and the character's potential here and beyond.

by | June 9, 2021 | Comments

After being one of the earliest Marvel Studios Television shows to be confirmed, Loki is finally here. With it, some questions about the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been answered, but perhaps more importantly, Loki Laufeyson (Tom Hiddleston) has a new lease on life and a new perspective. Although, it remains to be seen if the setting of the series or Loki’s actions will prove more important in the long run. And though the first episode may have revelled in the sort of “talkie-talkie” the God of Mischief enjoys, there is still plenty to discuss about the series debut. So let’s dive into the premiere and see what we can glean from Loki’s opening hour, “Glorious Purpose.”

Spoiler Alert: The following reveals details of the premiere episode of Loki season 1. Stop here if you have not watched “Glorious Purpose.”

Loki’s “Glorious Purpose” Kills Free Will

Wunmi Mosaku and Tom Hiddleston in Loki

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

Considering all the pain unleashed during the Infinity Saga, it is interesting to see this variant Loki discover the Infinity Stones are no more than paperweights in the realm of the Time Variance Authority. It puts our recent tracking of the Stones in a different light as the Time-Keepers clearly molded the search for them in a very specific way. And, yeah, we have reached the point where it probably is time to joke about them and, at least in a meta-narrative sense, de-power them. But that speaks to an interesting set-up for the TVA as a function of the MCU and the real conflict playing out in Loki.

As explained in the episode, the TVA grew out of a multiversal war that saw the Time-Keepers emerge and reshape it into a single, “sacred” timeline. That explanation suggests the sort of parallel worlds seen in the DC Multiverse do not exist here. Instead, there are divergent timelines the TVA prune and reset before they can become proper alternate worlds.

The quashing of timeline-branching is interesting because of a philosophical element inherent to the very concept of multiverses: they prove the existence of free will. If choice is more than an illusion, then every consequence of that choice must exist outside the perception of the one making the choice. The simplest example: A driver turning right ends up in a crash, while the same driver turning left arrives at work on time. The notion that both outcomes exist simultaneously is a key part of real quantum theory and an element of the multiverse concept well before DC or Marvel incorporated the idea into their storytelling.

But within the confines of Loki, we discover another wrinkle: The Avengers were always meant to go on the Time Heist, while Loki’s escape from Stark Tower is an aberration to the Sacred Timeline. This suggests free will, at least in the MCU, is an illusion. Three all-powerful “space lizards” dictate the proper flow of time and the choices we’ve seen play out in the Marvel movies (and the two Disney+ series thus far) were predetermined long before Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) built the Mark I Iron Man suit in a cave using scraps.

Also, there is an interesting meta-narrative going on here as Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, head writer Michael Waldron, and director Kate Herron effectively act as the Time-Keepers of this series. Truly, Loki’s actions are not his own.

Loki Confronts the Lie of Freedom

Our current understanding of the TVA puts Loki’s journey in a new light. His stated ambition to rule was always to order people away from what calls the “lie of freedom.” Sure, there are also the sore feelings he carries around for Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth), but the family squabble underscores the way Loki wanted to organize the universe into a realm under his direction.

Curious, then, that a variant of Loki would learn that ambition was never really his and that his life was carefully curated by space lizards to be a villain. One thing actors who play villains always note is that the characters never see themselves as the bad guy. So Loki actually learning he is a villain is a revolutionary moment for the MCU. The antagonists generally have a seemingly reasonable purpose to their actions; whether that be Ego’s (Kurt Russell) basic need to procreate or Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) grim calculus. But for Loki, his mischief no longer serves the burden of glorious purpose he perceived in his life. He is finally exposed to the truth that he is the bad guy.

Granted, Loki is such a scamp that we never want to see him reduced to so simple a thing, so the series will likely disprove the determination of the Time-Keepers.

Also, Loki fighting against (or giving into) his nature will likely be an ongoing internal conflict for the character. Released from the timeline and unburdened by his purpose, will he attempt to gain control of the TVA or will he be transformed by the experiences he will face? While the Loki of the prime timeline proved to have heroic qualities, will this variant find his way to the same path? Maybe witnessing a truly villainous Loki Laufeyson will push him in that direction.

A Variant Darkly: Loki Has Endless Potential — For Now Anyway

Although Marvel Studios often mentioned the series would feature Loki chasing himself, actually hearing Mobius M. Mobius (Owen Wilson) say Loki is the variant he needs Loki’s help to stop tilts everything we presumed about the show.

For one thing, we always assumed Loki would cause some chaos with the Tesseract before the TVA caught up with him and forced him to undo his mischief. Now, we see there’s a much more dangerous Loki variant running around capable of actually hurting TVA agents. The first question we have to ask about this variant is fairly obvious: From when in the Sacred Timeline did they spring? There are a handful of tantalizing moments in history to consider. One option, this is the Loki who grew up in Jotunheim under the tutelage of his true father, Laufey. Another option: This Loki successfully collected the Infinity Stones for himself and upended all of space of time. It is also possible the dangerous Loki variant is from the multiversal war; predating the Time-Keepers could explain why the variant presents a real threat to the TVA.

Then there’s the motive to consider. We’re told that at each of the attacks, the dangerous variant steals the reset charges. From what we’ve so far, these charges undo any effects of a breach to the timeline; the French child forgets meeting Mobius and the Kablooie candy the dangerous variant gave him, for example. If Loki is collecting charges, are they looking to reset something on a colossal scale?

If the variant is from that multiversal war, they might be looking to undo the TVA entirely and, as Miss Minutes (Tara Strong) put it, return to the Multiverse of Madness. Also, we couldn’t help but notice those words were in close proximity during her presentation or the fact Waldron rewrote Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness for director Sam Raimi. The connection must be ordained by the Time-Keepers of our reality. That, or the reference to the upcoming film is just a joke. Loki is a funny show after all.

Read Also: “Marvel’s Kevin Feige on The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, WandaVision, and Which MCU Shows Could Get Second Seasons

The Coulson Question: Was He Revived in the MCU?

THE AVENGERS: Cobie Smulders, Clark Gregg,

(Photo by ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)

The prominent appearance of Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg, pictured) in Mobius’s recap of Loki’s life once again puts the question of the agent’s survival in play. To recap: When he was killed in The Avengers, plans for the Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series were already underway. Though Coulson was meant to be the person the team was literally avenging, his future was ordained.

He went to T.A.H.I.T.I. It’s a magical place.

Initially, the series was meant to be connected to the movies —just like the Disney+ series are now — and that seemed to be the case through the program’s second season; Coulson even gives Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders, also pictured) the location of the Hydra base in Sokovia, and the information sets off the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Despite the connection, the Avengers never learned that Coulson was alive. Eventually, the series’ pilot director suggested it took place in an alternate timeline where Coulson was revived, while the films continued on in a reality where he died. And, ultimately, real-world considerations pushed the series and the movies further apart to the point where its final two seasons simply cannot be canon.

Captain Marvel poster of Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) Marvel Studios

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

So was Phil Coulson revived in the MCU? That ambiguity plays nicely into Loki‘s themes and a concept like the TVA could offer S.H.I.E.L.D. some form of canonicity — if even just to declare the entire series part of an divergent timeline. But there is also a broader S.H.I.E.L.D. question to consider, as WandaVision head writer Jac Schaeffer avoided any comment on the organization’s status, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier made a mention of Sharon Carter’s (Emily VanCamp) “old division” starting up again. If S.H.I.E.L.D. re-emerges in, say, Secret Invasion, Marvel Studios needs to make a definite choice about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and its stories.

Also, Loki discovering he couldn’t even kill Phil Coulson would be another great way to deflate his glorious purpose. Or, perhaps, it is the pivotal event the dangerous variant is trying to reset. But time will tell if any of these conjectures prove to be the case. Time always tells, after all.

Loki episodes debut each Wednesday on Disney+.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

Awards Alien children's TV christmas movies X-Men Epix finale BAFTA Warner Bros. kong Schedule Fox News book screenings Amazon Prime Video theme song movies stoner Starz Paramount Network independent elevated horror razzies 2020 Black Mirror green book hist Paramount Plus Reality Competition Ghostbusters Video Games LGBT A&E Funimation saw comic IFC stand-up comedy Disney+ Disney Plus Infographic Animation black TCA 2017 transformers sag awards new york 2019 Universal Mindy Kaling PBS HBO aliens Certified Fresh Rocketman Ovation new zealand Pet Sematary GIFs Marathons GoT GLAAD news Black History Month Cannes YA jurassic park monster movies Kids & Family video ViacomCBS Discovery Channel Winners First Reviews golden globe awards Tomatazos The Arrangement Rock Bravo cops Marvel nature period drama Sony Pictures Year in Review FX on Hulu disaster breaking bad Christmas TruTV mockumentary new star wars movies travel Action Television Academy stop motion godzilla award winner sports police drama medical drama Tubi based on movie SDCC quibi comic books Netflix Masterpiece Emmy Nominations romantic comedy OWN television The Walt Disney Company movie dark Spike Set visit werewolf Crackle Logo Interview MSNBC YouTube Premium Acorn TV Ellie Kemper rt archives ratings Super Bowl TIFF MTV AMC superman adaptation Dark Horse Comics kaiju FOX Premiere Dates festivals Comedy Central pirates of the caribbean blaxploitation Trophy Talk Hallmark Christmas movies Lifetime Christmas movies Marvel Television Tumblr video on demand Drama cancelled TV shows lord of the rings First Look Family a nightmare on elm street docudrama cinemax Countdown RT History History science fiction Nickelodeon latino cancelled television The CW comiccon cancelled composers cartoon Comics on TV canceled TV shows Lucasfilm zero dark thirty boxoffice Pop trailers FX screen actors guild psychological thriller docuseries MCU Awards Tour Avengers TV renewals Freeform Lifetime space fast and furious diversity 2016 social media Emmys TNT TLC Music Martial Arts 71st Emmy Awards Hear Us Out kids The Purge hollywood Esquire slashers foreign dramedy Showtime Sneak Peek what to watch rotten reviews live action 2015 harry potter Box Office Classic Film VOD TCA Winter 2020 Arrowverse Turner Classic Movies FXX streaming Western Captain marvel venice Lionsgate game of thrones Quiz Hulu OneApp DirecTV Pixar Pop TV Mary Poppins Returns Cartoon Network New York Comic Con Adult Swim politics Holidays sequels Mary Tyler Moore 45 scorecard anthology Teen ghosts Sundance Now casting Peacock Walt Disney Pictures Broadway Columbia Pictures facebook SundanceTV Disney Mudbound worst movies Best and Worst concert PaleyFest historical drama cars Trailer Star Trek indie LGBTQ justice league animated Thanksgiving Holiday Fox Searchlight parents 21st Century Fox Academy Awards scene in color Film A24 Amazon Prime Podcast Opinion BET Photos Film Festival telelvision king kong marvel cinematic universe anime Song of Ice and Fire spy thriller football spinoff Heroines 24 frames natural history BBC One book adaptation TV Land Sundance Superheroes VH1 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Comedy ITV Biopics Legendary Endgame worst nbcuniversal mission: impossible San Diego Comic-Con Watching Series tv talk Shudder cats TV One doctor who superhero robots The Academy Disney Channel TCM Cosplay prank Britbox ID unscripted dc batman cancelled TV series The Walking Dead Fantasy Tarantino 93rd Oscars criterion talk show WGN Image Comics technology ABC Signature south america Television Critics Association halloween tv Apple TV Plus BBC America Summer Winter TV crossover YouTube Red Paramount CBS italian Country TV crime thriller CNN dragons laika witnail Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt die hard E! TBS USA Disney streaming service Calendar E3 series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina spanish 2017 WarnerMedia teaser Marvel Studios sequel reboot HBO Go Pirates 20th Century Fox comedies 2018 high school popular crime drama strong female leads Horror documentary name the review heist movie Sundance TV Exclusive Video japanese Comic Book biography nfl SXSW BBC Musical Reality satire Apple political drama Character Guide El Rey scary movies directors Creative Arts Emmys Travel Channel serial killer festival Apple TV+ APB discovery target international women NBC australia Writers Guild of America asian-american canceled sitcom Food Network french Polls and Games remakes singing competition binge hispanic Superheroe classics Stephen King zombie films twilight Pacific Islander universal monsters indiana jones Pride Month adventure comics joker RT21 Nat Geo true crime Amazon Oscars spider-man obituary Extras mutant Grammys TCA Trivia toy story Disney Plus psycho Nominations Hallmark The Witch USA Network cooking Netflix Christmas movies Amazon Studios chucky fresh game show emmy awards Elton John thriller National Geographic free movies 007 Election Toys Star Wars Rom-Com know your critic franchise revenge romance Chernobyl 2021 Syfy YouTube CMT 72 Emmy Awards Mystery aapi Red Carpet NYCC jamie lee curtis Fall TV Baby Yoda blockbuster all-time war TCA Awards DC Universe deadpool President ABC Family miniseries CBS All Access BET Awards Rocky crime zombies DC streaming service renewed TV shows richard e. Grant Musicals IFC Films Spring TV See It Skip It cults Brie Larson vampires documentaries rom-coms ABC 99% best golden globes spain Crunchyroll VICE CW Seed toronto archives dceu Turner Sci-Fi Mary poppins rotten movies we love versus supernatural Vudu DC Comics Valentine's Day PlayStation child's play Shondaland Spectrum Originals blockbusters Binge Guide HBO Max hidden camera Women's History Month boxing ESPN james bond DGA Anna Paquin critics spanish language American Society of Cinematographers halloween 4/20 dogs