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“It’s a philosophy class on the sense of self and sense of destiny” – Director Dan DeLeeuw Talks Loki Season 2

5 min read

Disney

This piece was written during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labour of the actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn't exist.

's God of Mischief is finally back on our screens in  season 2. Loki came out of the gate strong with a first season in 2021 that still ranks amongst the best of the studio's streaming content to date, offering a rich tapestry of ideas with its time-shattering, multiverse-trotting narrative and the chilling introduction of He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors).

Picking up where we left off, Loki is in a state of disarray after the events of the last season; when Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) killed He Who Remains, she unleashed chaos across The Sacred Timeline and time is unravelling. Loki seeks the help of Mobius (Owen Wilson) and Ouroboros (Ke Huy Quan) to find Sylvie – who is on the run, being hunted by the TVA – and restore order in the multiverse.

Director Dan DeLeeuw directed the season's second episode and sat down with FILMHOUNDS about Loki's return, the future of the MCU and what it was like to bring the 80s back to life.

First of all, I want to say congrats. This season is great and I really loved episode two in particular. Loki is in such a bad place at the start of this season and you have the privilege of getting to toy with him – part hero, part villain, part antihero. What's that like, as a director, getting to approach such a complex character at this stage in his life?

Well, I think it's something you relish. You really want to find the different facets of a character, especially a character like Loki who, after Season One, had become much more complicated. He was seeing what the consequences of his actions from the other movies were when he was pretty much Evil Loki so it was a pretty big shock to the system. So in season two, we were able to slow down in this episode, and really see, based on the interactions of Loki and Mobius and Loki and Brad Wolf, who he's becoming. In season one, Mobius and Loki were very much at odds but now they are starting to understand each other. Suddenly the God of Mischief has someone he trusts. Probably for the first time in his life.

And season one was such a success for Marvel and so highly praised by the fans. It creates such an interesting world and the way it ends off with He Who Remains, it puts the world of Marvel in such a unique place. What's the vibe like going into season two? And what pressures does that give you as a director?

I think we were very confident in terms of the direction we were going. You have an amazing team with all the different directors that worked on the season, and Justin and Aaron in terms of how they worked on the look and pushed it in even more of a cinematic direction, then the writers and their understanding, especially Tom Hiddleston with his understanding of the character. So we're all in very safe hands. I think we all have a very great team to put our minds to it and push the series forward. And we had a really great idea. You know, at the base of everything, it's a philosophy class in terms of the sense of self and sense of destiny and that's what drives us forward which is great.

Disney

Yeah, obviously, the world of the TVA and time travelling, in general, provide such a rich, creative tapestry for any filmmaker so what's it like playing in that sandbox?

It's great. You have the ability to go to 70s London to the 80s to McDonald's. Visually, it's very rich and you can tweak the shooting style slightly and the lighting slightly to go with those different time periods. And you also have your characters reacting to that and what does it mean in terms of Brad Wolf going to the timeline and enjoying it and finding his true life or the team showing up at McDonald's to find Sylvie and ripping herself out of that life. It's really great.

You touched upon it there. But the McDonald's. An 80s McDonald's must have been really fun to try and recreate?

That was great. We first started talking about it and it was something that, as we talked to the crew and said “This is kind of what we're thinking about”, everyone had their story from childhood of being at a McDonald's. It's something that would catch in their memory. So it seemed like a good choice for a place where Sylvie might want to settle down. We had a great relationship with McDonald's and our production designer got the different wallpaper to put on the wall, he got the mould of the Hamburglar. So when we first walked into it, it was basically a restaurant that had been empty for a while and then, after the work, we walked in for the first time, and you see the Hamburglar and the tree, you're just kind of instantly like “Oh, my God, it's the 80s again”.

That's so cool. Finally, I just wanted to ask, when you're working on a series like this, there are so many directors that take over each episode. What's that collaborative process like to make sure that you're maintaining a style throughout but still getting to do your own thing and tell your own story as well?

It's something that Kevin Wright, our executive producer, had set up. When we arrived in London, we would work on the scripts but we would all be together. We would have the writers in the room and then all the directors would be there. As the scripts got to a certain point, we would invite the actors in and they would vet the script and see if it was honest to what the characters would do. But we were there for everyone's episode. It wasn't just our episode. So not only were able to contribute and everyone would make an episode better but you were in on what was happening so if you had to make a decision on the day within your episode then you already knew what decision Aaron and Justin might have made. So I think that was a great part of the success in keeping the continuity between the different episodes intact.

Loki Season 2 is now streaming on Disney+