Marvel’s third series in their new foray into a televised shared universe features Tom Hiddleston as appropriated quasi-Norse god of mischief Loki. Hiddleston has always been entertaining to watch in this role even if the scope of the character was a bit limited in the first two Thor movies. For those who haven’t watched them, events from the Thor films, as well as the first and final two Avenger‘s movies are shown in this episode.
To recap: In the first Avenger’s film Loki was the archetypal bad guy bent on world domination using the power of infinity-MacGuffin known as The Tesseract (as well as an additional infinity-MacGuffin in his staff). Loki and the tesseract are captured by the end of the film but…in the final Avenger’s film Endgame, time-travel shenanigans by the heroes lead to Loki escaping with the tesseract. The new show launches at this point, which means the character we meet is the recently defeated quasi-fascist Loki rather than the more complex and occasionally heroic Loki featured in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War. And that’s all good really — the premise of the character is a being who is changeable, a trait emphasised with the chaotic shifting typography used for his name in the opening titles.
It is episode 1, so where the show goes and what it will be like remains unclear. There is a lot of setup and exposition to be done. We get to meet Marvel’s timeline police, the TVA along with key employees of the agency, Owen Wilson as Mobius, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ravonna Renslayer and Eugene Cordero as Casey (a TVA underling who has drawer full of infinity stones).
It is an entertaining episode mainly on the strength of dumping talented actors into a wacky setting. It’s not as strong as episode 1 of WandaVision but does a much better job of setting expectations than episode 1 of Falcon & The Winter Soldier. There’s nothing startlingly new here nor is the show commenting on the sources it borrows from but neither is it really re-hashing existing material from the Marvel movies despite pulling material directly from them.
Overall, promising and if the show does little more than let entertaining characters bounce off each other then I’ll enjoy it. You’d think nobody could really mess that up and yet Falcon & The Winter Soldier kept short-changing its audience on exactly this point.