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15:15  04 june  2021
15:15  04 june  2021 Source:   espressocommunication.com

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Loki spoilers won't be found here.

Tim Carter wearing glasses: Loki director Kate Herron and creator Michael Waldron talk their biggest fears and © Disney+ - Marvel Studios Loki director Kate Herron and creator Michael Waldron talk their biggest fears and "unexpected" Marvel cameos.

Loki shouldn't exist. Not as a show anyway. Despite being perhaps Marvel's most popular character on screen, Loki snuffed it at the start of Avengers: Infinity War. But of course, that didn't stick for long, what with him being a god and all.

Following the return of an alternate Loki in Avengers; Endgame, Thor's mischievous brother is now working to fix the timeline alongside an organisation known as the Time Variance Authority (TVA). It's a weird starting point for one of Marvel's most unique characters, but in a world where people fly and heroes are named after bugs, weird is most welcome. In fact, that's exactly why fans are so passionate about Marvel, and that includes Loki director Kate Herron.

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a man and woman posing for a photo: Kate Herron, Michael Waldron © Getty Images Kate Herron, Michael Waldron

"I remember trying to turn one of my Barbies into Storm, and I melted her hair off," says Herron. As far as Marvel entry points go, that has to rank up there with the very best. And just like Kate grew up "loving the X-Men cartoon," a whole new generation will grow up adoring shows like Loki.

Herron tells us that she's always loved the God of Mischief, so when she heard that Loki would be starring in his own solo outing, she immediately had to get involved. "I remember saying to my agent, 'Just keep calling them. Just keep calling them. Eventually, they will cave, and they will meet me.'"

Once she was in the room with Disney, Kate showed them a 60-page pitch document that included "everything" in it. "I figured, go big or go home, because I knew I’d be up against some really experienced directors, and I thought, 'Well, I’m not going to lie to them' and be like, 'I’m the most experienced person you’re meeting.’ But I thought I’d just be the most passionate."

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Clearly, it worked, and not long after, Herron started to collaborate with Loki head writer Michael Waldron, another Marvel fan who took an unusual path to reach this point. Before joining the House of Mouse, Michael worked in the Rick and Morty writers room, which he describes as a sort of "sci-fi college" where he was "inundated with science-fiction knowledge all day, every day."

Riffing on obscure Marvel characters for Rick and Morty put Waldron in good stead for the challenges he would face writing Loki. "Obviously that kind of sci-fi multiversal world was adjacent to what Marvel is doing more and more of. My brain was really finely tuned for that, heading into the MCU world."

In his first pitch meeting, Michael described Loki himself as pivotal to this world that Marvel has created. "He defined what the sense of humour and the vibe of the MCU had become. He was that, almost from the beginning." It's vital then that Marvel gets this show right, and that's something both Michael and Kate are fully aware of.

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Tom Hiddleston, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Owen Wilson posing for the camera: Marvel's Loki poster with Miss Minutes © Disney Marvel's Loki poster with Miss Minutes

Not only does Herron want to "pay respect and homage to a character that people love," she also wants to ensure "there’s a reason why we’re going back in," by "taking Loki to fresh ground."

Of course, covering "fresh ground" can be risky, especially with a "six-hour movie" like this. And that's why Waldron was "terrified" longtime Marvel fans might find their show too complex or inaccessible. "That was my biggest fear. It keeps me up at night," says Michael. But the writers room rose to that challenge by starting from the ground up.

"We had to establish a logical foundational sci-fi reality for the show. It’s the TVA. They police time. That meant that we had to create rules, and build out what do they do? Why do they do it? For the writers’ room, they all had drawings and stuff like this on the whiteboards."

"And that necessitates really complex explanations and ideas," Michael continues. "Then you have to figure out: 'OK, how can we boil this down into a very simple way so that the audience is going to understand what Loki is going through, but they’re not going to feel like they’re in science class? They’re not going to tune out because they’re bored?'"

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That doesn't seem likely though. Waldron describes himself as the show's "harshest critic," so he was quick to call out scenes or bits of dialogue that might not work. "I’m very easily bored," says Michael. "I fall asleep easily in anything." And it was this low threshold that helped him navigate those trickier exposition scenes in ways that will still hold the viewer's interest.

And it also helps that we've never seen Loki quite like this before. As Kate points out, "Loki's in a very different place to where we’ve seen him in the last 10 years. We’re taking him on a very unique, new journey. It’s him working out who he is, and trying to basically undo this mess he’s made with time, with the TVA."

A post shared by Kate Herron (@herronthatkate)

Although there will be nods to the comics, Herron says that Loki's journey here is something we've "not seen or read before." And that's also true of where we're at in the MCU right now. Post-Endgame, this is a very different world to the one Stan Lee envisioned all those many years ago.

Michael remembers when the Loki writer's room was fortunate enough to watch an early cut of Avengers: Endgame, and then suddenly they realised, "We’re making Loki in this era after that." So what comes next? "To me, that was exciting – this unchartered territory of 'where does the MCU go?' It felt like, more than ever, that sandbox – we could blow the lid on it, and go wherever we wanted to."

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No comic book characters were off-limits to Waldron and his team either. "If they were within the rights, and legal could clear it, there was no reason we couldn’t try and chase them down." And when we pressed him on possible cameos, Michael simply told us to "Expect the unexpected."

That's often par for the course with new shows like this, but we have no reason to doubt Michael here, because for once, it really does seem like Loki will be different from anything that's come before. Kate says just when it looked like things might be getting "too" weird — "They’re not going to let me do this" – Marvel told her, “No, go weirder.”

So yes, keep an eye out for "twists and turns" and sure, look out for wider "ramifications" that will impact the MCU at large. But first and foremost, except things to get real weird real fast. Could melty-haired Storm even appear for a multiverse cameo? Probably not, but that's exactly the kind of chaos we're expecting to see in the God of Mischief's very first solo venture.

Loki premieres on June 9, 2021, streaming exclusively on Disney+.

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