Loki, the MCU’s latest offering, is now halfway through its run, and just like McNuggets, I’m loving it. I was a big fan of WandaVision’s pastiche of sitcoms over the years – I am a Film and TV graduate (shut up, yes that’s a real thing), so it makes sense that it would be right up my street. I couldn’t get into Falcon and Winter Soldier because I was just so disappointed at the u-turn to more military propaganda and ‘they hate each other but actually they’re best friends’ stuff though, so ahead of Loki the MCU TV shows were at 50-50. Loki’s first episode featured a bizarre, all-powerful bureaucratic time agency, and I fell in love instantly – that’s entirely thanks to Tom Hiddleston finally getting the spotlight he deserves. The talented actor has starred in some impressive TV shows and films, but nothing on the same scale as Disney’s Loki.
Tom Hiddleston is a phenomenal actor, a true thespian – that means he’s a posh boy who does a lot of West End stage acting and Shakespeare. His background translates into the character of Loki perfectly; he carries himself with the arrogant swagger only a Cambridge graduate with a double First in Classics could possess – honestly, I didn’t even know double Firsts were a thing. The God of Mischief’s weirdly formal lexicon rolls off of Hiddleston’s tongue like honey, and Loki – the show – leans into it brilliantly. He finally has the chance to wax poetic about his destiny and plans for domination of the Nine Realms, free from the shadows of the Avengers or his brother. He isn’t just a dramatic actor in Loki, however.
Much like Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Ragnarok, Hiddleston’s comedic range is taking center-stage now. Taika Waiti has a great eye for comedy, and this is expertly showcased in the hilarious chemistry between Hemsworth and Hiddleston, (as well as Mark Ruffalo and Tessa Thompson) so I’m glad the MCU is continuing to utilise Loki’s talent for humour. What makes Hiddleston’s comedy chops shine even more brightly is the unusually straight performance being given by Owen Wilson, starring opposite him as Mobius M. Mobius – what a silly name. He still cracks wise, sure, but his performance is wonderfully restrained in a way that allows Hiddleston to flourish and shows real maturity from the actor known mostly for comedies such as Wedding Crashers and Zoolander. Pairing the all-American Wilson with posh Brit Hiddleston was risky, but it seems to have worked.
Loki – again, the show – has so far shown a true understanding of what makes the irascible god so loveable: people disrespecting him right to his face. One of the first scenes shows him trying to give a speech in Mongolia. He does the spiel about who he is and what is rightfully his, only to be asked “Who are you?” by the confused locals. He is visibly flustered at the question, not used to being interrupted. Before he can punish the foolish mortals, the Hunters of the Time Variance Authority (TVA) knock him back to 1/16th his regular speed and we’re blessed with a lengthy shot of his face rippling slowly as they shackle him. The show knows that Loki is at his best when he’s been declawed and has to rely on his wit rather than his brutality – it makes him far more sympathetic, more of a roguish underdog than an evil mass murderer.
Something we also get to see, which we so rarely do, is just how unbelievably hot Tom Hiddleston really is. He’s normally so dressed up in all his pompous armour that the man himself is never on show, but he is – quite literally – stripped of it as he’s being processed at the TVA HQ. Disney didn’t give us the true full frontal shot we deserve (the cowards), but what we do get has been living in my mind rent free since then.
His journey through the TVA is utterly absurd, as it should be. Like all good sci-fi, the real enemy is paperwork, and Loki – the character this time – has no time for it. He resists the Authority completely until he sees a man getting vaporised right in front of him and quickly falls in line. There’s also a hilarious scene where he suffers from some existential doubt as he has to assure himself he’s not secretly a robot, brilliant. The whole processing sequence at the TVA reminds me of the absurdity of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, and I think it’s great Disney is allowing this new show some room to experiment – it worked for WandaVision, and it’s working for Loki too.
I’m loving Loki so far, and I’m excited to see where the show goes from here. Pairing Hiddleston and Wilson was a stroke of genius – the pair effortlessly switch from dramatic to comedic at the drop of a hat, and both actors are clearly being allowed to show off their skills here. I’m glad Owen Wilson is back, but I’m overjoyed that Tom Hiddleston has been given this chance to shine bright like an Infinity Stone. His arc in the MCU films is my favourite of any side character, and I can’t wait to see how his new story unfolds.
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