Is ‘Loki’ a True Marvel Variant? Or just a fun experiment?

One thing Marvel knows how to do is expand a story. Think back to the early days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the early 00s. where did it go phase 1 It was about building a superhero roster with different film narratives that would go into a bigger crossover film: “the AvengersA decade and a half later, crossovers are old hat, Easter eggs to be expected, and an influx of new movies and TV shows continue to provide an influx of stories and characters that branch out into universes of their own.

You could even say that the MCU resembles a branching timeline—that’s a member of the Time Variant Authority, or TVA, the bureaucracy at the heart of the Disney+ series “Loki,” would say. Because all is in the series for interdimensional entertainment.”bottle gourd”, which concluded last week, is a philosophical dialogue that also serves as a metacommentary on Marvel’s storytelling. The show’s central theme regarding the value of order versus chaos reflects how the MCU, as it expands on Disney+ and beyond, presents and breaks down alternately implicit, linear narratives and rote character types.

Although Loki (Tom Hiddleston), sometimes a nemesis and sometimes an ally of the Avengers, was killed by Thanos”Avengers: Infinity War, “Asgardian now appears—revived!—in his series. But this is only a revival in the branding sense: the series focuses on an older version of Loki, who survives the Battle of New York from the first “Avengers” film, in which His escape with the all-powerful glow-box (known as the Tesseract) causes a branch in the timeline, a crime that leads him to be arrested first by TVA and then by one of the group’s agents. , recruited by Mobius (Owen Wilson), to help catch a female “variant” Loki (Sofia Di Martino) who has been defying the rules of other time limit. In an apostle, if strange, Freud Twist, the two Loki fall for each other and team up to eliminate TVA before eventually finding themselves at odds.

From the outset, “Loki” was an odd addition to the MCU as it was only recently “Kali Mai“The film tried to give a back story and development to a character who was already dead in the central MCU timeline. More intriguing, it re-established a character who was the same as his adopted brother, the Norse golden boy Thor. As such there was an antagonist and a foil to the Avengers, as the protagonist of its story, which undermined what we had already seen in the franchise.

The series itself is acting like a variant by making the second version of Loki a hero. In general, Marvel is using its latest Disney+ shows to distract from the often tired, even oppressive, timeline that the movies have established. These side stories open the world to more nuanced, interesting narratives: “WandaVision” and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” allowed their heroes to develop in terms of both superhero abilities and emotional depth.

But whatever their differences, these stories always end for the main MCU narrative — Marvel’s own unseen timeline, which often leads to a strange outcome. “WandaVision” used its classic TV parody cleverly to trace the outlines of grief and emotional escapism, until its “Avengers” impending explicitly demanded a necessary explosive ending. Sam Wilson (Falcon) and Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier) wrestle with trauma and its consequences, but the ghost of Captain America, and the question of whether or not Sam will eventually shield, take over the story in the end.

In “Loki”, the Asgardians learn that everything is predetermined, even their identity. Loki is supposed to be the villain, and must be defeated. There are no other options. What does the series ask, a character whose purpose is only to lead his own story, as opposed to the strengths and faults of others?

The series certainly struggles to answer that question at first; Loki seems out of place on his own show. While the show allows him to be a less than reactionary character—he’s got his own foils in the form of many of his forms—he eventually feels like the focus of the narrative. He evolves, proving that Lokik can do Win and be honest and loving and kind. And just as “Loki” challenges how to define his title character, the series knocks him out of his only act in the MCU so far.

As a loyal TVA agent, Möbius, as he tells Loki, believes that his job is to maintain the ultimate sense of order—even if that order appears to rob the universe of free will. Would have happened What happens when the timeline is resolved without all branches? “Just order, and we meet in peace at the end of time,” Moebius says.

“Only order? No chaos?” Loki answers. “that sounds boring.”

Marvel risks undercutting itself with “Loki” and with every narrative chaos introduced by its latest show. How can anything be an emotional stake when there’s always a loophole or deuce ex machine just around the corner? (Indeed, “Loki” takes place in a closed loop, which has been reset by the end of the series.) And at what point does the narrative consistency fall apart and give us an indecipherable jumble of contradictory events?

The franchise seeks to subscribe to both a traditional method of storytelling and narrative chaos in the form of time travel, multiple universes, and non-linear shifts in time and space – all of which allow for deviations from the main story line. But the more different stories we come across, the more unstable and complex the whole structure becomes.

“Loki” is a fun touch of chaos for Loki fans, myself included, but it makes me wonder how long the sequences can sustain the backpedaling and jumps and reversals, relative to the central chronology of the MCU franchise, here. Even within its own time. The vast megaverse that Marvel already hosts countless characters and stories, and yet one in which Loki is still alive, is infinitely more fun.

But as delightful as “Loki” is conceptually, to me it just felt like a fun, distracting experiment. What Marvel will do with the results of this experiment is another story. This season’s cliffhanger ending means that the full measure of the series’ success and impact is still to come, whether the second season promises a finale or the wider MCU.

Is “Loki” actually a type within the MCU? Will it introduce resonances into all movies and TV shows going forward, or will it inevitably fall apart in its own fickle thought bubble? If the former, I suspect Marvel won’t be able to maintain the full height of the master narrative, with all those branches, forever—that is, until Marvel fully embraces the chaos and separates the MCU— Allows fractures in the separate multiverse. restrictive comprehensive timeline. After all, if the god of mischief has taught us anything, it’s that a little chaos can go a long way.

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