A few minutes into the Loki premiere, the show’s titular character makes a declaration we’re using to hearing: “I am Loki of Asgard, and I am burdened with glorious purpose.” Glorious purpose might be more fitting for the first two Marvel Disney+ series, who were saddled with their own preconceived expectations; WandaVision had to prove the MCU could translate to streaming without missing a beat. Falcon and the Winter Soldier introduced a brand new Captain America while tackling race issues in the MCU. Despite his proclamations otherwise, Loki’s Disney+ series arrives without (at least in this early stage) having to do any heavy lifting for Marvel’s future—and the show is so much stronger and entertaining as a result.
[Ed note: Assume that, from this point on, there are spoilers. If you aren’t caught up on the latest Marvel Studios films—basically, if you’ve not watched each film through Spider-Man: Far From Home—you may want to stop here, or risk being spoiled. That’s just how it is in these massive inter-connected universes. The movies are dope, at least. #shrug]
Created by Michael Waldron (Ricky and Morty) and directed by Kate Herron (Sex Education), Loki opens with a quick flashback to the character’s role in Avengers: Endgame. As the Avengers head back to 2012 in their time heist to acquire the Infinity Stones, chaos ensues, knocking the Tesseract free and providing Loki (Tom Hiddleston) a chance to abscond elsewhere. The God of Mischief enjoys a fleeting few minutes of freedom before he’s apprehended by an organization known as the Time Variance Authority for a “sequence violation.” See, this particular version—or “variant,” as he’s soon called—of Loki isn’t supposed to stray from the path that culminates with his death at the hands of Thanos. Since Loki strayed off his beaten path, he’ll soon face execution at the hands of the TVA to ensure the established timeline of the MCU continues without error. However, it turns out that the TVA is having an issue: Someone or something keeps creating timeline deviations, only to kill the TVA’s militarized Minutemen when they come to investigate the disturbance. TVA agent Mobius M. Mobius (Owen Wilson, in an inspired bit of casting) believes Loki can help the TVA hunt down this menace and effectively convinces the Trickster to help.