A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Once upon a time, a spin-off wasn’t a given. Back in the misty days of yore, not every movie or TV show was destined to spawn a collection of successors mining every single IP corner for content, in various fun new attempts to sidestep the risk of the new in favour of the popular-adjacent.


No, at one point a character (or characters) had to be unexpectedly popular enough on their own to warrant the spin-off treatment – and watching Marvel’s new Disney Plus release Loki (their third already) I was pleasantly reminded of the power of making something people were actually asking for.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved WandaVision and quite liked bits of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. But among all the many varied Marvel TV attempts lined up, Loki always seemed like the strongest sell, the TV show that Disney might have made anyway even if they weren’t going all in on the streaming market.

You see, ever since he stole the show in the 2012 Avengers movie, fans have loved Loki – the charming, irreverent God of Mischief played by Tom Hiddleston – necessitating more and more inclusions of him in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, even at the expense of others (famously, reshoots to add more Loki deleted vast chunks of the villain’s backstory in Thor: The Dark World).

He’s a fun, extremely popular character played by a fun, extremely popular actor who (crucially) seems to love playing the role. With all that in mind, why wouldn’t he anchor his own mini-franchise? Before watching, it felt like an open goal – and having watched it, it’s safe to say that Loki scores easily where other Marvel properties have struggled.

From the off, the series – written by Rick and Morty's Michael Waldron and directed by Sex Education's Kate Herron – has a confident swagger. Appropriately, the Loki of this series is plucked from the height of his IRL popularity, escaping the end of the first Avengers movie (thanks to the time travel chicanery of Avengers: Endgame) before he’d go on to be partially redeemed in films like Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers Infinity War.

However, the latest of Loki’s great escapes doesn’t last long – within minutes he’s been scooped up by the Time Variance Authority, the main story drivers (and setting) of this series who “protect the sacred timeline” and consider Loki’s escape a dangerous divergence from predicted events.

Wunmi Mosaka and Tom Hiddleston in Loki (Disney)

The TVA’s inclusion in this series is a stroke of genius, creating an apparatus to excises Loki from the main MCU (and dodges the usual “why don’t Hawkeye or the Eternals help out?” moans) while also creating a vast fantasy/sci-fi playground of all time and space for Hiddleston to play in. The TVA also has its own specific “rules” that cancel out some of what we’ve seen in Marvel before (i.e. something all-powerful in other movies is a paperweight here), creating new stakes and forging a new path in a universe that was beginning to feel a little crowded.

As for Loki himself, the TVA puts the Earth-conquering supervillain on the back foot, which is where he works best. Stuck inside the fantastical bureaucracy of the Timekeepers (which follows in the footsteps of The Good Place and The Umbrella Academy by casting otherworldly supernatural beings as retro office workers) Loki learns that this is the true power of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – and just when it seems like they could end his story forever, an unexpected opportunity crops up for Loki to do some good.

This second chance comes via Owen Wilson’s Mobius, essentially the series co-lead with Hiddleston in the early episodes, ably building on their chemistry from 2011’s Midnight in Paris. An “analyst” working for the TVA, he recruits this Loki variant in an attempt to track down a truly deadly threat that’s massacring his agents. Together, they form a kind of unexpected odd-couple detective duo – He’s an ageless Time Lord created by space lizards! He’s a petulant Trickster God from another realm! How on Earth will they crack this case? – with a lot of push and pull as both struggle to maintain the upper hand.


Wilson’s wonderful in this – warm, quick-witted and with a kind of folksy gravitas I haven’t seen him with before – and after a few minutes, it’s hard to believe he’s not been a part of the MCU for years. And he’s not alone at the TVA, with plenty of other intriguing actors (including Wunmi Mosaka, Sasha Lane and Gugu Mbatha-Raw) also cropping up in supporting roles, though they don’t always have a lot to do in these early episodes.

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And anyone keen to get under the skin of Loki himself won’t be disappointed. In fact, a large amount of episode one amounts to a kind of extended therapy session for the disgraced Asgardian, delving into the character’s backstory (and future-story, from this Loki’s perspective) to paint a picture of a more complex, fragile and erratic character than the pantomime fascist he’s usually portrayed as.

To get into anything more specific would be delving into spoiler territory (though I will say with this series and its importance to Avengers: Endgame, the much maligned Thor: The Dark World is proving to be an oddly crucial part of the Marvel tapestry) – and self-reflection isn’t all that Loki offers anyway. It’s a series stuffed with mysteries, bizarre settings, surprise twists and laugh-out-loud moments (often at Loki’s expense), and in the very best way it’s more of a “TV show” than Marvel has managed to make thus far.

Really, I loved it. I could easily see Loki running beyond this initial six-episode stint, and I’m already keen to watch more. If there are any minor quibbles – a slightly hand-wavey explanation of some time travel rules, a couple of dodgy accents, some slightly low-key action scenes – they’re easily outweighed by the performances, world-building and general confidence of this series.

Right now, it’s the best Marvel Disney Plus series so far. But given the pedigree, I feel like that wasn't entirely a surprise.


Loki begins streaming on Disney Plus on Wednesday 9th June at 8.00AM BST, with new episodes released weekly - see our Loki release schedule for more information. To watch, sign up to Disney Plus for £7.99 a month or £79.90 a year now. Check out our dedicated Sci-Fi and Fantasy pages for more, or visit our full TV Guide.