Marvel-ous Purpose - Part One - Political and Philosophical Discourse in Marvel Studios’ Loki.

With the COVID-19 Pandemic leading to lockdowns and self-isolation across the globe, it has been oft remarked that time feels as if it has concertinaed or elasticised, dislodging our usual capacity to recall if certain events took place within the last year or the last two years. Indeed, from within this  shift to ‘covid-time’, Marvel Studios has released its third 2021 series within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) on Disney+ for our entertainment: ‘Loki’.

Loki is an interesting, entertaining and thought-provoking series, not unlike this year’s earlier ‘WandaVision’. Created by Michael Waldron, directed by Netflix’s ‘Daybreak’ (2019) and ‘Sex Education’ (2019) director Kate Herron, whilst starring the likes of Tom Hiddleston, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wunmi Mosaku, Sophia di Martino, Owen Wilson and even Richard E. Grant, Loki (Herron: 2021) holds all of the elements to become the archetypal successful illustration of the synergy between feature film quality cinematics and television that we as home viewers have become accustom to; not least as the first episode pulled in a record 2.5 million household views in its initial week of streaming in the US alone.[1]

What is the premise of Loki however? After swiping the Tesseract during the events of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ (2019) and utilising it to escape The Avengers by casting himself into a portal of his own creation, an ‘alternative’ Loki is brought to the mysterious Time Variance Authority (TVA). The TVA is a bureaucratic organization that exists outside of time and space with the purpose of monitoring the entire predetermined events that constitute the course of multiversal time. In escaping the Avengers with the Tesseract, Loki became a ‘Time Variant’ – an ‘illegal’ parallel version of himself that should never have been, and, as such, risks the dissolution of the timeline that the TVA work tirelessly to uphold by removing dangerous variants that risk dissolving the fabric of predetermined time. At the TVA Loki is given a choice: (1) to be erased from existence as protocol demands of a time variant, or, (2) help the TVA maintain the timeline, halting a greater threat to the multiversal order – another supposed Loki variant. Subsequently, Loki becomes trapped in a mystery thriller, traveling across time, space, history and the multiverse within his own story of mischief and intrigue to discover who controls the TVA and how to command its power over the temporal fabric of the universe.

The objective of this series will not be to provide ‘fan theories’ as to what the narrative holds. Nor is the rationale of this investigation to jettison all critical functions in order to write a review that reaches a somewhat childish apex at the immediate thought of ‘Timecop’ (Peter Hyams: 1995) or ‘Back to The Future’ (Robert Zemeckis: 1985) with the mere mention of ‘time-travel’; for instance in claiming: “Loki promises to be a good time (after time)”.[2] The objective here will be to lay out some more concrete political and philosophical reflections about Loki through a ‘close reading’. No doubt there will be a lot of articles that will already be discussing and speculating upon narrative ‘fan theories’.[3] Here, I want to engage in a ‘fan theory’ of a different kind, an engagement with the critical, philosophical and political themes that Loki appears to tap into. Before we turn our gaze to the specificity of ‘Loki’, I would like to take some time to explore how the MCU, and film broadly, engages with philosophical and political discourse, and how we should think about film in relation to such dialogues. This will be the raison d'etre of the next piece in the series - of Episode II. Stay tuned. 

[1] Anthony D’Alessandro (June 16th 2021) ‘‘Loki’ Launch A Home Run For Disney+; Marvel’s Kevin Feige “Still Learning” Streaming Success Metrics”,, (Accessed 17th June 2021).

[2] Matt Webb Mitovich (June 8th 2020) “Loki Review: After a Talky-Talky Start, Disney+'s Third Marvel Series Is a Super Fun 'Time Detectives' Two-Hander”,, (Accessed 17th June 2021).

[3] To illustrate: Kath Leroy (12th June 2021) “Loki: 10 Fan Theories From Episode One”,, (Accessed 17th June 2021); Talya Honebeek (15th June 2021) “Loki episode one recap: All the plot details, fan theories and predictions”, Manchester Evening News, (Accessed 17th June 2021); Sabrina Barr (3rd June 2021) “Loki on Disney Plus: Fan theory delves into how Marvel series feeds into next Avengers film”,, (Accessed 17th June 2021).