Loki is the latest Marvel Studios television show to launch from Disney+ and it may be the most anticipated. WandaVision was a visceral and thought-provoking affair and Falcon and the Winter Soldier featured high flying action, but Loki featured two things the others could never achieve: one of the original characters from the Marvel movies played by Tom Hiddleston and the introduction of a multiverse. Launching today, the first episode of Loki titled “Glorious Purpose” does the heavy lifting to establish a new direction for Loki effectively fast-forwarding the character from the end of Avengers with a new purpose.
If you’re confused as to how Loki is even alive fear not, as this episode opens with a short flashback of the events that transpired in the original Avengers movie. Loki was captured and being prepared for transport back to Asgard, but then Avengers: Endgame came into play and as seen in that film Loki teleports away with the tesseract. This episode then reveals where Loki went and the events that transpired after he incidentally created a variant of himself. This opening gives the episode a direct connection to the major movies and it never lets up that Marvel movie feel.
Loki soon finds himself going through the Time Variance Authority’s (TVA) processing. As seen in the clips and trailers, the TVA seems to be stuck in the 70s as far as interior design and even guidance videos featuring cute cartoon mascots. This opening does a good job establishing how the uncaring and weirdness of the TVA would train Loki to back down and be a little less mischievous.
This helps establish Loki as a little less evil and a little more tired than when he was in the first Avengers film. Enter Owen Wilson, who plays Mobius and is introduced as a kind of agent for the TVA. There’s a demonic enemy vaguely revealed that makes it all the easier for Mobius to see Loki as a valuable asset. The meatier scene in this episode focuses on Mobius going through Loki’s previous acts and personality in a kind of interrogation.
This scene firmly establishes the fact that Loki needs a bit of a course correction so as to be a more heroic type as we saw when he was eventually killed by Thanos in Avengers: Endgame. Ultimately this episode finds Loki’s new motivations — spiritual and physical — as he realizes how his acts have affected the timestream and where he eventually ends up.
The acting throughout this show is great. Owen Wilson was clearly cast perfectly as his character is the casual type who has seen it all before, but you wouldn’t be surprised if he’s making it up as he goes along either. Hiddleston plays the part like Loki is a second skin — and truly it has to be at this point — and there are some deep emotions he must go through in this episode since he goes from maniacal villain to a new heroic version of the character.
At the very least, Loki is no longer out to do bad things for selfish reasons, but to right wrongs. Characters like Casey (Eugene Cordero) help establish the TVA as a real place that people work at like any other job and Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ravonna helps to establish the complexities of different roles at the TVA too.
Once Loki gets his head on straight the show begins to reveal what it’ll be really about. Or at least, what Loki will be up to for the TVA. Establishing the fact that Loki is a variant, the show predisposes there are other variants in play and the best way to catch a variant is with a variant. We have ourselves a manhunter premise within the realms of science fiction only Marvel Studios could supply.
The episode runs 45 minutes long with an additional five minutes of credits — which are fantastic and show off the TVA headquarters up close — with no mid or post-credit scenes.
Loki only faulters in how little it gives the viewer before getting to the credits. This show could have used another episode to lock in the viewer’s interest like so many other shows seem to do these days, but with Marvel Studios’ previous works and Tom Hiddleston’s amazing portrayal as Loki at the helm, Disney knew it wasn’t necessary. This episode spends a lot of time establishing Loki’s mindset and how it changes but it never gets to any boisterous action or sets Loki on his new mission. It’s all set up.
Loki is a show made for fans of the Marvel movies as it leans on our interest in the title character and all the films he’s appeared in to draw us in. If you’re unfamiliar with Loki and the many films he appeared in a lot of the emotional weight will be lost on you. Likely the show’s hook for casual viewers will come in the next episode since so much of episode 1 is focused on setting things up. For that reason, this show is a great one for longtime fans, but it rests so heavily on the past it hasn’t yet found its place as its own thing.
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