E-Junkies: Loki director talks villains and Tom Hiddleston, says 'you can't help but root for him'
When it comes to villains, there are those that we hate because they're straight-up evil, and then, there's Loki.
A villain who posed a serious threat to our beloved Avengers, threatened to enslave Earth, and by all accounts should be condemned.
Yet, Loki tugs at our heartstrings and remains a sympathetic villain. A victim of the sins of his adoptive father Odin (who hid his true parentage) and a nuanced character that cannot be judged on a black-or-white morality system.
And we have British actor Tom Hiddleston to thank for this.
Tom's masterful performance of the tortured villain brings him to life in a way that allows viewers to have a multi-faceted perception of him, and in turn, a deeper appreciation for him.
That is not lost on British director Kate Herron who is working on Loki, the new six-part series from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that premiered on Disney+ on June 9.
Speaking to AsiaOne via Zoom, Kate mused about her feelings towards villains — she likes them! — and Tom's portrayal of Loki.
She said: "He has had one of the best arcs of the MCU, I think, over the last 10 years. We've seen him go from villain to anti-hero, and I love villains, and I think that you don't necessarily have to like their actions but you have to understand them.
"And I think Tom's performance brought such empathy and grounding to why Loki was doing what he was doing. So even when he is at his most villainous, you can't help but root for him... It's coming from a place of pain and you kind of understand why he's doing what he's doing."
But, she has her work cut out for her with the show because she's not working with nine years of character development with this incarnation of Loki. This version of Loki was plucked straight from the timeline at the end of the first Avengers in 2012.
This means that he has yet to go on that journey of redemption and discovery that would ultimately lead to his sacrifice at the start of Avengers: Infinity War.
She shared: "For me, the interesting thing was he's not going to be arrested and go back to Asgard. He's actually going to be arrested and go to the TVA (Time Variance Authority). So how does this Loki react? Will he go on a similar path or will it be quite different?
"And I would say in some ways it's very different, and I think that was very exciting to us. You know, putting Loki who is so chaotic in this place of order and bureaucracy."
In Loki, the titular villain escapes following the events of the time heist in Avengers: Endgame and gets arrested by the TVA, the bureaucratic organisation that oversees all timelines within the multiverse.
He then teams up with TVA agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) to hunt down a variant — people who diverge from their predetermined path — who is working against them. Loki also stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sophia Di Martino, Wunmi Mosaku, and Richard E Grant.
By stripping the God of Mischief of his powers and putting him in the TVA, a place where his title and godhood means nothing, it creates a "fish-out-of-water" experience for him that both endears him to viewers and provides something new for fans of the MCU.
According to Tom, who was at the global press conference on Tuesday (June 8), putting Loki in a completely unfamiliar environment raises fascinating questions.
The 40-year-old said: "What I love about the series is Loki is stripped of everything that's familiar to him. Thor is not close by. Asgard seems some distance away. The Avengers, for the time being, aren't in sight. He's stripped of his status and his power.
"And, if you take [away] all those things that Loki has used to identify himself over the last six movies, what remains of Loki? Who is he within or outside all of those things? And I think those questions became, for all of us, really fascinating to ask...
"Is he capable of growth? Is he capable of change? And do his experiences within the TVA give him any insight into who he might be — this mercurial shapeshifter who never presents the same exterior twice."
As for the character development that has been built over nine years, it's not totally discarded. In fact, Kate singled out a scene in the first episode that lets viewers experience it in a very meta way.
Loki gets a crash course on how his life was supposed to turn out had he not absconded with the Tesseract and viewers get to see his journey across the MCU.
"What's interesting about it is audiences who maybe haven't caught up on Loki's story, they will be caught up. But audiences that [have], they get to experience that story from a very new experience obviously, because Loki is the audience to his own story," she said.
Loki is available on Disney+ with new episodes every Wednesday.
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