The God of Mischief has graced us with his presence once more, getting his own adventure on Disney+, traversing the tumultuous timeline with the TVA. We had the chance to speak with Head Director Kate Herron and Head Writer Michael Waldron during their roundtable on Wednesday. We asked them about their vision for the show, Herron’s extensive pitch bible and her status as a Loki stan, Waldron’s multi-management of Marvel projects, and how they make sure we all know that the Infinity Saga is the past, and Loki is the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Loki has been a main staple of the MCU since its early inception, gallivanting from a full-on villain to a lovable antihero, but Herron gives the surprise, telling us “I think he’s had about 79 minutes of screen-time across the last decade, so I really wanted to just dig into his identity and find out what makes Loki tick?” Loki is synonymous with Thor’s story, and Asgard as a whole due to his altercations with the realm and its ruler Odin, and Michael Waldron understood this was something they had to shift away from: “I wanted to do something new because we’ve seen those stories. I think what the TVA can do is hold up a mirror in a lot of ways. They’re saying, ‘here’s how your life played out, was supposed to play out’ – it forces self-reflection, which is something I don’t think Loki is comfortable with.”
Waldron is a big fan of Loki as a character, but Herron is the walking encyclopedia when it comes to Loki, having crafted an extensive 60-page pitch bible to Marvel, which included a Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-esque creative tool: “I made a playlist to accompany the bible, and one of the songs was from Sesame Street – I was thinking, ‘oh, we can have these fun tongue-in-cheek songs on the credits.’ Marvel absolutely loved it, but when we heard Natalie [Holt, composer of Loki], it felt like her music had a personality of its own, and I knew we always had to go out on Natalie’s score.” She’s also probably one of the biggest Loki stans around: “Seeing Tom in the original suit in episode one was so crazy to me. He kept teasing me because I remember saying to him, ‘it’s you!’ I had that moment for quite a bit into filming. Knowing it’s him and directing him was a really big moment for me, it was so cool.”
Herron also talks about learning the value of a strong team when tackling a project as big as this – “You’re going to be up very late with these people, it’s really about finding people you love collaborating with, because it’s going to be hard and stressful. Just to name a few, Christine Wada [costume designer], Natalie [Holt, composer], Kasra Farahani [production designer.] I really feel like I found my team on this.” Herron’s also no stranger to weird comedy, and Loki has that distinctive comedic flair peppered throughout: “For me, the magic of a comedy situation is your character not knowing they’re in a funny situation. For them it’s the worst day of their life. For Loki, when he’s being processed at the TVA, it’s like he’s going through the airport or the post office, and he’s getting so frustrated at the ridiculous bureaucracy.”
Speaking of teams, the TVA, or Time Variance Authority, are the latest team to be added to the MCU lexicon, and Waldron had the perfect idea for them to make a splash: “What better way to show how formidable they are than having the Infinity Stones in a junk drawer. It signals that they were the past, and the TVA is the future.” In a way, the TVA are like the MCU’s writers and directors, and Herron felt the same way: “I love the idea of Mobius editing together Loki’s memories like a filmmaker. I got to play with all this unseen footage, or even shot new stuff like the Endgame opening. It felt like Rashomon, and it’s also a bit Minority Report at the same time. I think the TVA are a really exciting new corner of the MCU, and when I saw what Michael did with the Infinity Stones, I was very surprised but very interested.”
Waldron’s got his work cut out for him – writing Loki in one hand, and structuring Doctor Strange 2 in the other. With such a huge project like this, how does he manage constructing this world, knowing the Phase 4-wide ramifications? “You gotta have a bottle of Advil on hand. [Laughs.] For me, it’s about making the best project you can, and focusing on that, because then it’ll hold up. That kind of attitude has been instilled in me from [Dan] Harmon on Rick and Morty, y’know, your aspiration is this should be the best episode the show has ever done. I love that Marvel has that same philosophy.”
Loki debuts new episodes weekly on Wednesday, only on Disney+.