When watching films and TV shows that involve time-travel, I have one simple rule: Don’t think about what’s going on too hard.
It seems as if every entry into this genre has its own rules, and even the best written ones inevitably abound with paradoxes. How did Captain America show up as an old man in the mainstream timeline of Avengers: Endgame if the rules already established that going back in time creates an alternate timeline? The answer is “Shut up, brain; you’re going to hurt yourself.”
Loki, Disney+’s latest foray into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is a similar experience; don’t think about things too hard and you will find yourself enjoying some glorious acting, some glorious set pieces, a glorious soundtrack, and maybe even the unfolding of a glorious purpose or two.
At this point Tom Hiddleston’s fan-favorite performance as the titular god of mischief seems about as natural to him as waking up in the morning and putting on a pair of pants. He is, as always, electric (no disrespect to Thor), able to switch from being deliciously hammy and broad one moment to quietly contemplative and subtle the next.
This time he is joined by a cast that includes Owen Wilson, Sophia Di Martino, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who are all phenomenal in their own right and more than capable of keeping up with Hiddleston’s iconic embodiment of the trickster god. Everyone in the cast brings the script to life wonderfully, even if it does require them to occasionally spout time-travel nonsense that makes my brain start to tune out as a defense mechanism.
Out of all the Marvel series on Disney+ so far, Loki seems like the first one to take full advantage of the obscenely high budget that comes from being a House of Mouse production. Every setting, from the retro-style interiors of the Time Variance Authority to the decrepit castle at the end of time, looks stunning.
Disney spared no expense on the CG here, filling the small screen with movie-grade special effects and shots that would make even the show’s big screen brethren blush. Rounding out the experience is a rousing soundtrack that easily places within my top five of the entire MCU with its creepy, otherworldly theremin, ticking clocks, and traditional Norse instruments.
Despite all of this, Loki does not entirely feel like a complete experience like WandaVision or Falcon and the Winter Soldier did. This comes, in part, from the fact that Loki does not resolve much by its finale (granted, there is a reason for this… Just wait for the end credit scene of the final episode) and because the show simply feels too important to what’s coming next in the MCU as a whole.
Some threads introduced in these six episodes will take years to get resolved, which can be a bit exhausting and frustrating to think about. It’s not its own thing as much as I would like it to be, and by being too important Loki paradoxically feels less for it.
But it is still, in a word, glorious.
Loki is now available on Disney+.