By Joseph McAleer | Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — Comic book characters never really die. Consider the titular protagonist of the Disney+ science-fiction series “Loki.”
A figure drawn from Norse mythology, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the “God of Mischief” and Prince of Asgard, has perished multiple times across several Marvel feature films, most recently in 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War.” Yet he was resurrected in the franchise finale, 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame,” and escaped — setting the stage for this new adventure.
The first two of the show’s six episodes are streaming now. New installments will become available each Wednesday.
“Loki” finds our anti-hero in dire straits as a prisoner of the TVA — not the New Deal agency that powered up the Tennessee Valley, but the “Time Variance Authority.” This vast bureaucratic organization is entrusted with protecting the “sacred timeline” that was created by mysterious beings called Timekeepers.
In this version of “Brave New World,” everyone is content and has a specific job to do, with no room for free will. But Loki’s escape has upset the temporal apple cart, causing a disruption that must be corrected. It gets worse: Every disturbance creates a “variant,” an alternative version of the offender.
Hence, this Loki is one of at least two Asgardians wreaking havoc in the past and future.
TVA agent Mobius M. Mobius (Owen Wilson) believes the Loki he has in custody could be an asset in locating the elusive version of himself. The latter is on a killing spree of the TVA agents dispatched to pursue him.
Loki can switch genders (his official file lists his sex as “fluid”). This can be seen as another gratuitous attempt by the mass media to push an agenda at odds with scriptural values. Moreover, the classification seems unnecessary since Loki can shape-shift at will anyway. He even appears, on occasion, in the guise of Satan.
Thus, on a time jump back to the 16th century, Mobius comforts a peasant girl after she points to a stained-glass window in church depicting the Evil One. “Don’t worry,” he says. “That devil’s afraid of us. We’re gonna take care of him.”
Mobius’ boss, Judge Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), doubts that Loki can change his stripes and be trusted. The lead TVA soldier, Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku), agrees.
But the fate of the universe hangs in the balance (as in any comic-book adventure), so Mobius and Loki suit up and gallop through history and futurity. “Loki” morphs into a murder mystery as the pair’s itinerary ranges from Pompeii in A.D. 79, where they witness the fateful eruption of Mount Vesuvius, to the Alabama of 2050.
Based on the duo of episodes reviewed, as created by Michael Waldron, “Loki” keeps its combat violence stylized and — the red flag raised by Lady Loki aside — is probably acceptable for teens and their elders. Younger and more impressionable kids, by contrast, might be confused by Loki’s supposedly divine status, brief similar claims made about the Timekeepers and the presence of Satan — in whatever form.
Considered strictly as entertainment, the program certainly contains enough intrigue, techno-babble and action to satisfy the most demanding Marvel fan. Those unfamiliar with the canon will likely enjoy the comedic moments and lavish sets but find the jargon incomprehensible.
McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.