With 'Loki,' the MCU continues to shine on the small screen

The best things in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are happening on television, including the recently completed first season of 'Loki'

Brad Keefe
"Loki"

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

I freely admit that I was pretty burned out on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movies for the most part were all good, but they weren’t breaking much new ground. And with two or three releases a year, it just felt like Marvel was choking out the possibility of any original blockbusters that weren’t related to superheroes.

Don’t get me wrong. Highlights like “Black Panther” were among the most thrilling movies around, and “Avengers: Endgame” was a more than fulfilling conclusion to tie up an ambitious arc. But while the recent “Black Widow” film shows that MCU movies can still deliver, it’s the limited television series where they are doing some of the most interesting things yet.

More:‘Black Widow’ is so overdue it loses some impact

I was hooked by the wild sitcom sendup premise of “WandaVision,” and now the recently completed first season of “Loki” has me actually excited for what’s to come.

More:‘WandaVision’ revives the MCU and rethinks what a film can be

Tom Hiddleston’s Loki was already an anomaly as a beloved villain. The six-episode series on Disney+ develops him into a somewhat reluctant antihero.

It splits off a timeline from the moment where Loki steals the Tesseract during “Endgame,” dropping an alternate Loki in the hands of the mysterious Time Variance Authority (TVA), a bureaucratic organization that cleans up diverging timelines.

Kicking off with some serious “Brazil” vibes, we also get a resurgent Owen Wilson as a TVA agent named Mobius, who puts Loki to work helping to track down a “variant” version of Loki who is, as Lokis are want to do, causing mischief.

For about one episode, “Loki” seems to be developing into a detective story, a more lighthearted “Zodiac” with a time-twisting narrative. But the joy of “Loki” is how unexpected it is from one episode to the next, while still feeling cohesive. Suddenly we’re introducing a love story set in an apocalypse as Loki falls in love with himself, or at least another version of Loki (Sophia Di Martino).

Series creator Michael Waldron and director Kate Herron turn “Loki” into a playground that pulls in some wild influences. The aforementioned “Brazil,” a 1985 dystopian sci-fi film from director Terry Gilliam, is one, but there were moments that evoked “Children of Men,” “Snowpiercer,” a little bit of “The X-Files” and more.

It’s a testament to the writing and filmmaking that “Loki” feels both cohesive and unpredictable. And the MCU is really finding its stride in the limited series with weekly twists that make this event television.

A second season was announced just prior to the season finale, which did set up a good old cliffhanger of an ending. But right now, the biggest things in the MCU are happening on the small screen, and I’m here for it.

“Loki”

Streaming on Disney+

5 stars out of 5