Review: Loki – A Glorious Disappointment

After the success of Marvel’s first two Disney + series, WandaVision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, fans have been on the edge of their seats as they await the return of the God of Mischief in Loki. With a series full of so much potential, Loki didn’t really live up to the hype. Not to say it was bad, as Marvel absolutely ticked some of the boxes, but Loki certainly didn’t meet expectations.

After seeing the character make a villainous reappearance in Avengers: Endgame after his untimely death in Avengers: Infinity War, fans were left eager to know what mayhem the trickster would cause following stealing the Tesseract, again. Unfortunately, it turns out that Loki wouldn’t cause that much mayhem at all. Marvel had a glowing opportunity with Loki to explore a solo series based on a villain, something that hasn’t really been explored in the MCU before. Although WandaVision focused on Wanda’s morally questionable actions, Loki is a classic villain in the MCU, so it would have been interesting to explore a series from a completely different point of view from the heroes.

However, this is not what we were delivered. The Loki series explores Loki’s capture following escaping with the Tesseract and his consequential dealings with the Time Variance Authority who serve to protect the timelines, as of course, Loki is supposed to be dead. This is when Loki encounters variants of himself and it appears that the TVA might not be all that they appear to be… In other words, the series tries to mould Loki into a hero. The eagle eyed amongst us would have picked up on a glaring flaw with this, the Loki in the series is not the Loki who redeemed himself at the end of Thor: Ragnarok and into Infinity War. This Loki is the power hungry, cunning and tyrannical trickster from Avengers: Assemble.

This poses the first major issue with Loki as Loki has a complete change of heart after learning of the fate of his family, and eventually himself at the hands of Thanos (this was in the first episode by the way). Whilst it can be expected that this would have an impact or cause some self-doubt, but to completely change Loki’s intense and fiery motivations that quickly seemed out of character, lazy, and a cheap move. Albeit, we have seen Loki’s redemption arc in the MCU, in which case visiting the previous point, why try to shape him into a hero at all? Similarly with Loki’s characterisation, he was portrayed as being quite pathetic and simpering throughout the series which is understandably a disappointment given his usually entertaining and mischievous demeanour. In all honesty, what mischief was there in the series?

The plot pacing was on the whole, fairly consistent and interesting as we as the audience followed Loki on uncovering the TVA mystery. However, there was a notable dip with the third episode essentially serving as filler, during which, the plot went almost stagnant. Whilst this is to be expected in shows with 20+ episodes, given Loki is compiled of six episodes, it felt out of place and unnecessary.

Drifting away from the negative aspects of the show, there should be praise given to the score, visual effects, and the series’ wider purpose. In terms of the wider scale, Loki is certainly crucial to the future of the MCU given the introduction of the formidable villain, Kang The Conqueror. Although the final episode felt underwhelming and dull due to the lack of an epic showdown and action, it was very conversational and served as an exposition. In fact, serving as an exposition to Phase 4 of the MCU is perhaps the best way top describe Loki as a whole, you never get to really see Loki have his spotlight. Regardless, Kang or ‘He Who Remains’ was one of the highlights of the series, delivering a complex and charismatic performance right off the bat despite only appearing in the final episode. Therefore, specific praise should be given to Jonathan Majors, who is set to reprise his role in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

Praise should also be delivered to the acting of Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, and Richard E. Grant. Owen Wilson actually came as a dark horse to Loki and provided depth to the character of Mobius despite having less and less screen time as the series progressed. There was a sense of internal conflict, determination and rounded off with wit for a character that you genuinely grew to be invested in. Although, one mark should be deducted for Wilson not delivering an iconic ‘wow’. Wilson’s performance is topped off with his effortless and fantastic chemistry with Hiddleston as an unlikely duo.

Richard E. Grant was another unexpected star, despite only appearing in one episode as Classic Loki and sporting a costume that looks like it came straight out of Wanda’s Halloween party, Grant delivered a charismatic and powerful performance as Loki. Finally, it was a relief to see Tom Hiddleston return to his charismatic portrayal of Loki after more or less being absent from a full role since Ragnarok, even if the character changes were bizarre. But this is where another issue evolves.

One of the biggest issues was the early introduction of Sylvie, who made her official debut in the second episode. There wasn’t really enough time to reconnect with Loki and following this, he essentially becomes side-lined in his own show. Sylvie is of course the lady variant of Loki and is also rumoured to be a combination of Lady Loki and the Enchantress. Personally, Sylvie felt a bit lacklustre compared to her comic book counterpart who is graceful, regal, calculated and sarcastic, and sports an iconic outfit. Sophia Di Martino’s adaptation often felt wooden and was lacking the personality and grandeur of her comic book counterpart, which obviously may not have been Di Martino’s fault.

As the series progressed, Sylvie took centre stage which felt off-balance given the show’s name. The issues with Sylvie taking the forefront of the series only increased with the cringey forced romance sub-plot which took all of that one 45 minute filler episode for Loki to decide that he loved her. Whilst this could have been a poetic thread about self-love and narcissism, it was incredibly rushed and came across more forced than Jon and Daenerys’ relationship in Game Of Thrones.

On the same lines, fans were excited to witness President Loki make his villainous and chaotic debut and were ultimately left gob-smacked by the fact he was in the series for approximately one minute at a push. That’s right, a minute, and President Loki was a key part of the promotional trailers. Although it was most likely a move to get people talking, it also ended up feeling cheap and disappointing. But, the scream was amazing.

Overall, Loki had all of the visuals, score, overarching plot and acting talent to keep viewers interested, but the details and character actions felt nonsensical and rushed for a six episode series. With a show with so much potential to explore Loki’s villainous chaos across the universe and time, the result was quite average and didn’t exactly leave you eagerly awaiting more. However, Loki deserves bonus points simply for making Alligator Loki exist.

Holly Hammond

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