Marvel's 'Loki,' Starring Tom Hiddleston, Premieres On Disney+ Tom Hiddleston is arguably the biggest Marvel star to do a streaming series. Loki premieres Wednesday and continues the adventures of a character who was technically killed in Avengers: Infinity War.
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Marvel Takes A Big Swing On The Small Screen With 'Loki'

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Marvel Takes A Big Swing On The Small Screen With 'Loki'

Review

Television

Marvel Takes A Big Swing On The Small Screen With 'Loki'

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Superhero fans will see one of the most anticipated streaming series from Marvel when "Loki" debuts tomorrow on Disney+. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says the show, starring Marvel's villainous God of Mischief, is a sly examination of a bad guy who may be considering how to be better.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Marvel's "Loki" kicks off by explaining something huge - how does a new superhero story center on a character who got killed at the beginning of 2018's blockbuster movie "Avengers: Infinity War"? Well, it turns out bad guy Loki avoided that fate by slipping away from the Avengers in the past. The first episode of "Loki" replays scenes from "Avengers: Endgame" to explain. But that little maneuver violates the laws of time, resulting in Loki's arrest by the Time Variance Authority. He winds up stuck in an office that looks like the universe's worst DMV branch crossed with a bizarrely menacing ride line at Disney World, watching a cartoon video explain his fate.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "LOKI")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As Miss Minutes) The TVA has stepped in to fix your mistake and set time back on its predetermined path. Now that your actions have left you without a place on the timeline, you must stand trial for your offenses. So sit tight and we'll get you in front of a judge in no time.

DEGGANS: But Loki's saved from that verdict by a TVA agent named Mobius, played by Owen Wilson. The two have a buddy cop vibe that feels a bit like "Men In Black" meets "48 Hours." Eventually, Mobius proposes Loki help him with a huge problem. But first, he asks the God of Mischief, played with typical flair by Tom Hiddleston, if he enjoys hurting people.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "LOKI")

TOM HIDDLESTON: (As Loki) I don't enjoy hurting people. I do it because I have to.

OWEN WILSON: (As Mobius) Explain that to me.

HIDDLESTON: (As Loki) Because it's part of the illusion. It's the cruel, elaborate trick conjured by the weak to inspire fear.

WILSON: (As Mobius) A desperate play for control. You do know yourself.

DEGGANS: Marvel's "Loki" alternates between scenes packed with time-traveling action and revealing moments like these between Mobius and Loki. It all gets at what makes one of the Marvel cinematic universe's most compelling villains so, well, bad. The first two episodes of this show, revealed early to critics, accomplish a lot. They humanize one of the most ruthless, murderous narcissists in Marvel movies while building out the world of the TVA and setting up a rollicking cosmic adventure.

Chris Hemsworth's Thor has spent the last two Avengers movies mourning the deaths of his mother, father, homeland of Asgard and even Loki. Here in Marvel's Disney+ series, we get to see Loki react to these losses, giving the prodigiously talented Hiddleston room to shine. And when Mobius explains how the powerful organizers of the TVA will eventually bring harmony to existence and end life's chaos at the end of time, Loki drops an observation loaded with foreshadowing.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "LOKI")

HIDDLESTON: (As Loki) No chaos? It sounds boring.

WILSON: (As Mobius) I'm sure it does to you.

HIDDLESTON: (As Loki) You know, you called me a scared little boy.

WILSON: (As Mobius) I called you a lot of things.

HIDDLESTON: (As Loki) You're wrong, though. You see, I know something children don't.

WILSON: (As Mobius) What's that?

HIDDLESTON: (As Loki) That no one bad is ever truly bad, and no one good is ever truly good.

DEGGANS: There's a lot riding on this show. Hiddleston's Loki is arguably the most significant character to make the move from big screen to streaming on Disney+, but Marvel seems to have pulled it off. They've created yet another thrilling, high-quality superhero drama, asking important questions about the nature of good and evil while peeling back the layers of a great Marvel villain.

I'm Eric Deggans.

(SOUNDBITE OF SLOAN'S "PEOPLE OF THE SKY")

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