What is mischief without its god? It’s the first two episodes of the new “Loki” series from Disney+, which begins June 9.
In episode one, the Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who gets his meaty mitts on the Tesseract in “Endgame” is spun out from the big screen and snatched into new possibilities. There is a reckoning for his quote/unquote criminal actions as Loki finds himself in the bowels of perhaps the only institution that can truly out-nimble him.
The whole process of bringing Loki to terms with his brand-new predicament and thus centering him in a serialized narrative is like declawing a clever, interdimensional kitty. Tedious, questionable, but bound to provoke an interesting game with the trickster.
By the end of Episode Two, that adored experience of engaging with Loki—the whose side is he on, how sincere is he, when will he betray the team to secure himself, and most certainly, a dastardly plan—begins to take shape.
Much of what happens is setup. The complex nuances of the science-y story and the visuals that intermingle in a sepia-tented balance of dark, light, humor and intrigue reel us in. We meet the players: the agents of Loki’s new reality led by a stern, but ultimately muted Wunmi Mosaku; the arbitrator, a soft and skeptical Gugu Mbatha-Raw; and the most exciting character, Mobius, played by a surprisingly grounded Owen Wilson.
Where critics are applauding the “bromance” between Mobius and Loki, this relationship will perhaps prove a huge problem for the series. Because Wilson’s Mobius upstages Hiddleston’s Loki, the titular character is relegated in his own series to the same position he holds in the movie franchise: sidepiece.
Loki might be stuck in another ensemble, but fingers are crossed that he’ll receive what he deserves, but never got in the movies. A deep exploration of his emotional potential. This series will fail, if Loki is left to passing witticisms, moderate acts of betrayal and slight sentimental ambiguities. Unlike the others who could never get away with it— Thor, Iron Man, Captain America— Loki must be laid bare. He must be stripped of the comic book cartoonishness his character has been treated with and made accessible. It will madden him, but Loki has to be opened wide for this new world to work.
What happens in these early episodes indicates that it might, but doesn’t confirm that Loki will be what is desperately needed. That’s okay. There is enough spark in the beginning to inspire us to take time with the God of Mischief.
Production: Marvel Studios + Disney+
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, Wunmi Mosak