He was the Avengers’ first foe, he tricked his way into becoming the King of Asgard, and he met his maker at the hands of Thanos, but now Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is dealing with a whole different set of problems in his new Disney+ series.
The first episode of Loki debuted this past Wednesday, exploring what has happened to the Loki “Variant” who escaped with the Tesseract in Avengers: Endgame. Now captured by the TVA (the Time Variance Authority), he is forced to face up to his crimes – even those he doesn’t recall committing, since he diverged in the timeline before many huge events occurred for him, including his eventual redemption and death.
Fandom spoke to Tom Hiddleston, Loki head writer Michael Waldron, the show’s director, Kate Herron, and costar Owen Wilson (“Mobius”) about the series, finding a new onscreen partner for Loki and more – including asking Hiddleston about the character’s most notable betrayals and acts of heroism thus far.
THE DARK AND THE LIGHT
The first episode of Loki brought up the character’s frequent betrayals, even as Loki also learned of the good he was capable of, as he saw where his original timeline self ended up in films like Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War.
With Loki’s conflicting nature at the forefront of his new series, we asked both Hiddleston and the passionate community at Fandom’s MCU wiki to name what they felt was Loki’s biggest betrayal so far and what his most heroic moment was.
Hiddleston said, first and foremost, “What comes to mind, without getting too deep, probably the biggest betrayal is of himself. He’s his own worst enemy in a lot of ways.”
When it came to specifics, many at the MCU wiki brought up Loki’s actions in the first Thor film, with Danger1109 choosing “when he orchestrated his plot to destroy Jotunheim just to make Odin proud” and Audrey the Sarcastic Droid writing, “Loki’s biggest betrayal would have to be his complicated father-killing plan from Thor. At the end of the day he had betrayed his birth father, his adoptive father, his brother, his mother, and ultimately himself.”
For Hiddleston, “The image that comes to mind is in Thor: The Dark World, pretending to pass away and then not actually passing away at all and then usurping the throne. As far as betrayals go, that’s a pretty big one. It’s not hugely considerate of Thor or Odin or anybody else for that matter.”
Hiddleston wasn’t the only one to think this, as Wild dog 250 named “Faking his death and banishing Odin” as Loki’s worst betrayal, while RedDef76 said, “Using his death in order to displace Odin by putting him in an old folks home and pretending to be the All-Father. That’s just low, man.”
While Hiddleston agrees on how low it is, he noted that when it came to how much Loki sells his death to Thor, “I played it for real because at the time it was meant to be sincere. But Marvel Studios had other plans!”
As for Loki’s most heroic moment, The Loki Lady wrote of Loki’s “protection of Jane in Thor: The Dark World,” explaining, “He saves her twice despite previously mocking Thor that her lifespan’s short anyway – it’s a fact that’s truly significant to Loki’s character. He’s not the cold-blooded killer everyone thinks he is or that he likes to think he is.”
Regarding Loki’s heroic side, Hiddleston said, “I find the sacrifice in Infinity War very moving when he refers to himself as an Odinson.” In terms of something a bit more grandly heroic, Hiddleston added, “I think the big moment is in Ragnarok. He turns his fortunes around and gets on the ship and arrives back in Asgard to help save his home with his brother at his side.”
LOKI & MOBIUS
While Loki’s had some great moments with other characters, he is of course most closely associated with Thor, with Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth sharing the screen for many standout scenes through the years, as we’ve seen Loki and Thor as both bitter enemies and loving brothers.
The two characters are now truly on their own path though, as (barring any surprise cameos) Hiddleston is not in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder, while Hemsworth is not a part of the Loki series. In the series, Loki is mainly paired with Mobius, one of the members of the Time Variance Authority, with Owen Wilson bringing his particular wit and charm to the role.
Going into the series, head writer Michael Waldron said the approach for Mobius was, “Let’s have him go toe-to-toe with Loki in a totally different way. Whereas Thor is, I would argue, threatened by Loki in a way – he’s easily annoyed, rattled by him in a way that a sibling of course would be — Mobius is very affable, folksy, not easily upset, and he’s kind of amused by Loki; charmed by him, even. He’s probably the most patient person that Loki’s ever dealt with, which, in some ways, might drive Loki the craziest.”
Compared to the Loki/Thor dynamic, Loki director Kate Herron said Mobius forms “more of a paternal relationship. I love the chess match that they have in that first episode. Loki kind of underestimates Mobius. He doesn’t take him very seriously and then you see that Mobius has actually a bit of an edge to him and he’s just a good a chess player as Loki is.”
Herron added, “There’s a line towards the end of the episode that I really love, which is Loki describes himself as a villain and Mobius says, ‘That’s not how I see it.’ I think that empathy and that kind of thought in Mobius’ head — that that’s not the only way he sees Loki being defined — I think is really what sets the chance for these two characters to have a friendship going forward. I think it was really important to us just in terms of making sure Mobius was at Loki’s level, really, and that Loki could come to respect him.”
“He has a kind of curiosity and a wry sense of humor and an intellectual detachment that makes him the perfect foil for Loki in a completely different way.” – Tom Hiddleston on Owen Wilson
Said Hiddleston, regarding changing up his onscreen partner, “I worked with Chris for ten years and it was completely immediate and instinctive, our chemistry. Our lives changed at the same time and we grew into those characters in an easy way. But it was so wonderful to have Owen Wilson come into this because he has a kind of curiosity and a wry sense of humor and an intellectual detachment that makes him the perfect foil for Loki in a completely different way. Loki’s fractured energy is bouncing off someone who is nonplussed by Loki. And all of Loki’s tricks don’t work and Owen brought all of his gifts and comedic intelligence and insight as a writer. He brought it all to play here.”
Wilson said he was excited by the possibilities of joining Loki and the MCU, recalling to Fandom, “I had a phone call where the director described the story and Kate walked me through the dynamic between the characters. Right from that phone call, I was excited about working on it and thought it was interesting.”
When it came to forging his onscreen dynamic with Loki, Wilson said, “They did a good job in the script, but it was [also] probably before we started filming and just Tom taking the time to walk me through the whole Loki history. I think that that was really valuable and it really was sort of like being in class. I was taking notes and the notes I took on the way Tom would articulate stuff were very vivid and memorable. I would kind of sometimes work that back into actual scenes that we did together.”
Fandom recently had Dr. Drea Letamendi do a detailed psychological profile on the MCU’s Loki and what motivates him. When we read Hiddleston some of her findings, including “Loki expresses contempt toward others, thereby relocating his own shame” and “To avoid the feelings of being damaged by others, Loki creates his own chaos,” he replied, “I think that’s a very insightful analysis” and that as far as how it matched his own thoughts on the character, “I think all those things [too] and most likely he feels quite small and vulnerable. But rather than be honest about that, he needs to make others feel small and vulnerable in order to distract himself from his own vulnerability. He evacuates his pain onto other people.”
Hiddleston stressed, of Loki’s behavior, “As repetitive, compulsive habits go, it’s not the most healthy. He could do with a little bit of work in processing some of that and taking responsibility for his actions and choices. But maybe that work is coming around the corner. He’s been apprehended by the TVA and there’s some hard truths to confront.”
When Waldron heard Dr. Drea’s findings, he replied, with a laugh, “I have to say, where was she when I was writing this show? I needed her in the writers room! That would’ve been helpful. I think she’s absolutely right. At the end of episode one, he sums it up: ‘I’m a villain.’ That is who he believes himself to be, that is the part he’s chosen to play because of the trauma and the tragedy of his own life. That’s what he feels his only recourse is. It’s tragic. Can that tiger change his stripes? That’s what this show’s about.”
MULTIVERSE OF… COULSON?
Waldron went right from working on Loki to writing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness with Sam Raimi, and Kevin Feige had previously said Loki will have some connections to what we see in the Doctor Strange sequel.
It certainly stood out in the premiere episode when we heard the words “multiverse” and “madness” said by Miss Minutes, though as far as getting to directly create some of those connections, Waldron was coy, remarking, “Anything you do in the MCU is gonna be thrilling. It’s cool to get to work on this sort of sci-fi stuff and it’s very exciting to go from Loki, which is a big sci-fi thing, into another project which has its tendrils in there. The charge was always, though, to make the project stand on its own. That’s always the goal with everything we do there and so with Loki you want that to be great individually. It’s not a set up for something else. It should stand on its own and be its own remarkable thing and if it springboards into another movie or another TV show, great.”
One notable moment in the premiere also found Mobius taunting Loki a bit about his murder of Phil Coulson, given that event inadvertently motivated the Avengers to unite in the first place and defeat Loki. During this scene, in was hard for some fans of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD to not wonder if Mobius might even reveal to Loki that Coulson actually returned from the dead, though that ultimately didn’t occur, once more leaving the status of Agents of SHIELD – along with the other Marvel Television shows Feige and Marvel Studios were not involved with prior to Marvel Studios launching into TV with WandaVision – still murky in terms of if they’re truly canon in relation to the MCU. Or, if they are canon, if they are technically in the same timeline or universe as the films, given where the MCU is delving into these days.
Asked if he toyed with having Coulson’s resurrection mentioned in Loki, Waldron replied, “No, look, that is one other tendril of the multiverse, perhaps. I think just seeing mention of Coulson again, the very fact that it raises those questions, is exciting.”
New episodes of Loki debut Wednesdays on Disney+.