‘Loki’ Ep.1 Review: If Stanley Kubrick Did Marvel

by Olly MacNamee

From the moment Loki (Tom Hiddleston) gets smacked in the chops in slo-mo action at the start of this first episode, you just know this is a series that’s going to be playing up the laughs. Which, you’ll be pleased to know, it does. That is when it isn’t trying to set-up the time-travelling premise behind this six episode series. Or when it trying to inject a bit of sympathy for everyone’s favourite God of Mischief. 

As such, this first episode is heavy on dialogue but low on action. Although I’m not complaining as there’s a lot of setting up to do in this all-new corner of the Marvel universe. Plus, the chemistry between a high-strung Loki and a laid-back Agent Mobius M. Mobius (Owen Wilson) is more than enough to keep things moving along at a brisk pace. 

It seems that Loki is something of a time anomaly, a variant. And as such, he must be taken out and re-set before he can cause damage to the timelines. First he is rudely arrested by Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) and then taken in by Agent Mobius; with members of the Time Variance Authority (TVA). Needless to say, Loki isn’t taking this incarceration lightly and although his power don’t work in this realm – nothing does, not even Infinity Stones (!) – this doesn’t stop him from out-foxing the TVA with a little bit of mischief making. It’s good to see he’s still not to be underestimated, the “mischievous scamp.”

Soon, of course, things calm down after a bit of sci-fi slapstick, and Loki accepts his place. And his fate. Suffice to say, though, that there’s a bit of time-travel terrorism happening that only Loki can help out with. I’ll leave you to catch up on the rest. This isn’t a review that revels in too many spoilers. 

Visually, it’s stunning. With a design aesthetic that lands somewhere in-between retro-‘60s/‘70s sci-fi and Mad Men with set designs that fizz with a sense of Stanley Kubrick, circa Dr. Strangelove. If Kubrick had even done a Marvel movie, this would be what it looked like. Indeed, some of the directing, by Kate Herron, certainly comes off as Kubrick-esque, especially in the open half hour or so of the show, with low-angle camera shots and other off-kilter framing that leaves the viewer slightly off their footing. Just like Loki himself. Given this is an all-new and important part of the Marvel universe, I can see why this opener concentrated more on tone and design. I doubt this will be the last we see of the TVA even after Loki series one wraps up. 

Loki episode 1 is available to watch on Disney + now, with new episodes each Wednesday.

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