[marvel avengers review]Review: ‘Loki,’ on the Light Side of the Marvel Streaming Universe

2021-07-08

  Hiddleston is, as always, significantly overqualified for the mix of jesting arrogance and slightly buffoonish insecurity that constitute the character. He carries off Loki’s astonishment at the authority’s existence (its agents are able to erase all traces of their intrusions into the time stream) and his indignation at being its captive — all with the same ease with which Loki, when not wearing his prison collar, snaps himself from one place to another. If anything, it’s a little too easy, and as the star rather than a supporting player, Hiddleston can sometimes appear to be coasting through the so-so material.

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  A hallmark of the Marvel-Disney+ productions so far has been their self-conscious desire to show that they have more on their minds than typical superhero series. “Loki” also goes for some extra texture in a comparatively easygoing and thereby successful manner. There’s an amusing element of oppressive office comedy among the harried clerks and claustrophobic warrens of the time authority. (A running joke is Loki’s refusal to believe that this petty bureaucracy is the most powerful outfit in the universe.) And there’s a not-too-heavy-handed metafictional thread about the ways in which managing the timeline is akin to building a fantasy story — or, by extension, to overseeing an immense comics-based entertainment empire.

  Disney+’s propensity to dole out review episodes sparingly — its release of just three episodes of “WandaVision,” with its backloaded plot, made early reviews practically pointless — leaves you wondering, hopefully, whether “Loki” will up the pressure as it goes along, adding some more energy and wit to match the skills of its cast. (Not even seen yet is the always wonderfully droll Richard E. Grant.) The show’s head writer, Michael Waldron, is a rising Marvel star — he’s also the writer of the coming Doctor Strange feature — whose previous work was in the wacky-cerebral sphere of Dan Harmon, on “Community” and “Rick and Morty.” A little less Marvel and a little more “Rick and Morty” would be something to look forward to.