If there was still any doubt about the Marvel Cinematic Universe's (MCU) ability to renew itself, Loki, the latest production by the American franchise, proves itself once again. Available since June 9 on the Disney+ platform, the first episode of this highly anticipated mini-series - ultra teased since the recent release of the WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series - is, in fact, revealing of the path taken by the Marvel behemoth, which, skilfully alternating between grand spectacle and inventive - even very subtle - writing, is just increasing in quality.
The story of Loki is set in the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame (2019), the film that concludes the Infinity Saga initiated in 2008 with Iron Man. The superhero clique is now decimated, after big bad Thanos wiped out half of humanity. The super-villain, Thor's brother, played by the brilliant Tom Hiddleston, has vanished into space-time, armed with the Tesseract [a cosmic cube that gives all powers to its holder]. So here he is, lost in the Gobi Desert, still wearing his half-chic, half-pathetic suit. If he thinks, for a moment, that he can finally control the planet and change the course of human history, he finds himself brutally captured by strange soldiers in futuristic outfits - the members of the Time Variation Authority (TVA) - who have just one goal: to prevent any alterations to the past or the future.
With its brilliantly seventies aesthetics - especially at the TVA HQ -, its plot based on the relationship between Loki and Agent Mobius - the latter being in charge of putting the former back on the right track - and its funny situations - including one where the super-villain is asked to sign a register listing all the sentences he has uttered in his life -, the third Disney+ series restores the reputation of a character too long seen as the failed villain, the deceitful and devious hero of the Marvel universe. And even if, at this stage, the rest of the plot seems a tad predictable - where Loki would commit to doing good and change his mind almost instantly - the opening of this mini-series will delight fans of the American company's productions.
Indeed, so far, we find the essential of what makes Marvel so good: time loops, allowing us to revisit key moments taking place in the previous films. It also welcomes the return of an endearing character: Loki, the anti-hero par excellence, naughty, gauche, but ultimately so likeable. Finally, it orchestrates the development, in the form of a series, of an alternative story to the saga initiated by Kevin Feige (the CEO of the franchise) ten years ago. Just as the studio did with WandaVision, the first show in the MCU that x-rayed everyday life in the US and tackled the impact of historical sitcoms on the masses through superhero stories, Loki promises, through its six episodes, a further step towards freeing itself from the codes of the superhero genre. Themes such as mourning, memory and guilt will be tackled with a lot of cynicism - the show was created by Michael Waldron, one of the producers of the crazy animated series Rick and Morty - and burlesque. A promise of a new Marvel tour de force, which finally gives the first character described as non-binary, the place he deserves in the cinematic universe.
Loki (2021), a series created by Michael Waldron, with Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson, is now available on Disney+.