Is ‘Loki’ A True Marvel Variant? Or Is It Just A Fun Experiment?


One thing Marvel knows how to do is expand a story. Think back to the nascent days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the early ’00s. So called Phase 1 it was about building the superhero cast with individual movie narratives that would become one big transitional movie:AvengersEleven and a half years later, transitions are old hat, Easter eggs awaited, and a host of new movies and TV shows continue to provide a stream of stories and characters that branch out into their own universes.

You could even say that the MCU looks like a branching timeline—as a member of the Time Variant Authority (TVA) used to say, the bureaucracy at the center of the Disney+ series “Loki.” Because for all the interdimensional fun the series has, “LokiCompleted last week” is a philosophical dialogue that serves as a commentary on Marvel’s storytelling. The show’s central theme about the value of order over chaos reflects how the MCU offers and breaks away from alternatively inclusive, linear narratives and rote character genres as it expands to Disney+ and beyond.

Although Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who is sometimes an enemy and sometimes an ally of the Avengers, is described by Thanos as “Avengers: Infinity War”The Asgardian now appears – resurrected! – in his own series. But it’s just a resurgence in terms of branding: The series focuses on an earlier version of Loki (known as the Tesseract) who escaped the Battle of New York from the first “Avengers” movie and with a very powerful glow box. ). Escape with Tesseract causes a branch in the timeline; This is a crime that leads him to be first arrested by TVA and then recruited by one of the group’s agents, Mobius (Owen Wilson), to help catch a female “variant” Loki (Sophia Di). Martino) disregarding the rules other timelines. Inspirational, if strange, Freudian The two Lokis fall in love and team up to disband TVA before they finally find themselves facing each other.

From the very beginning, “Loki” was a strange addition to the MCU because the last “black widow” sought to give a retrospective story and growth to a character who was already dead in the central MCU timeline. Even more intriguingly, he repositioned a character like his half-brother, Scandinavian golden boy Thor, who was an enemy and a foil to the Avengers, as the protagonist of his own story, which undermines what we’ve seen in the franchise.

By making another version of Loki the hero, the series itself acts as a variant. Overall, Marvel has been using the latest Disney+ shows to deviate from the often grueling, even oppressive timeline that movies have established. These side stories open up the world to more nuanced, interesting narratives: “WandaVision” and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” have allowed their protagonists to thrive in both superhero abilities and emotional depth.

But whatever their differences, these stories always fall into the main MCU narrative—Marvel’s own untouchable timeline—and that often ends up being awkward. “WandaVision” used classic TV parodies to cleverly explore the contours of grief and emotional escape until the adjoining “Avengers” seemingly demanded an explosive ending. Sam Wilson (Falcon) and Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier) grapple with trauma and its consequences, but the ghost of Captain America and the question of whether Sam will eventually take up the shield eventually takes over the story.

In “Loki,” the Asgardian discovers that everything, even his identity, is predetermined. Loki was supposed to be the bad guy and he had to lose. There is no other choice. What the show is asking is how does a character manage his own story whose purpose is simply to highlight the strengths and flaws of others through contrast?

The series certainly struggles to answer that question at first; Loki seems out of place on his own show. When the show allows him to be a less reactionary character – taking its own foils in the form of its many variants – he finally feels like the focal point of the narrative. Evolving Loki’s to be able to win and be honest, loving and caring. And just as “Loki” challenges how the title character is defined, the series tears him away from the only function he has ever served in the MCU.

Mobius, a devoted TVA agent, believes his job, as he told Loki, is to maintain an ultimate sense of order – even if that order seems to steal the universe from free will. What happens when the timeline is fully edited without branches? “Just order and we’ll meet in peace at the end of time,” Mobius says.

“Just order? No chaos?” Loki replies, “This sounds boring.”

Marvel risks cutting itself off with “Loki” and every bit of narrative chaos their latest show has brought. How can anything have emotional risks when there is always a void or deus ex machina around the corner? (Actually, “Loki” takes place in a closed loop that resets at the end of the series.) So at what point does narrative coherence break down, giving us an incomprehensible jumble of conflicting events?

The franchise wants to subscribe to both a traditional style of storytelling and a bit of narrative chaos in the form of time travel, multiverses, and non-linear shifts in time and space – all of which allow for deviations from the main story line. But the more variable stories we get, the more unstable and convoluted the whole structure becomes.

“Loki” is a fun touch of chaos for Loki fans, myself included, but I wonder how much longer the relative sequence of the MCU series’ central chronology can sustain pedaling back, jumps, and backtracks, even in their own time pockets. The huge mega-universe that is Marvel is already home to countless characters and stories, and yet it’s a lot more fun to have a story where Loki is still alive.

But as fun as “Loki” is conceptually, it just seemed like a fun, confusing experiment to me. What Marvel will do with the results of this experiment is another story. The shocking ending of this season means that the full measure of the series’ success and impact is still to come in the second season promised in the finale, or in the wider MCU.

Is “Loki” really a variant of the MCU? Will it resonate in future movies and TV shows, or will it essentially be isolated in its own hilarious thought bubble? For one thing, I suspect that Marvel won’t be able to sustain all the weight of the main narrative with all these branches forever – that is, unless Marvel completely embraces chaos and allows the MCU to split into separate multiverses without one like that. restrictive inclusive timeline. After all, if the god of mischief taught us anything, it’s that a little chaos can go a long way.


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