F E A T U R E – P O P C U L T U R E
Marvel’s leap to the small screen is what’s saving us as theatres are still closed. As they tried to redeem side characters from phase 2 for the new Avengers lineup, we waited for one final arc of a beloved anti-hero. And with impeccable character writing so far, Loki is not disappointing. In the pilot, the series already established that while Loki may be the biggest headache of the Time Variance Authority, there are others guilty of the same. Episode 4 ended with a massive cliffhanger only to prepare us for the disconcerting nature of episode 5 with the post-credit scene. Spoilers of the episode follow:
Episode 5 started with the three new Variants of Loki: Classic Loki & Kid Loki from the comics, a lying ‘Boastful Loki’ with a pinch of Rick and Morty, Alligator Loki (Croki is the preferred term). We are introduced to other versions later, only one of who is identified as President Loki. But the nature of the place with hard-to-miss Easter eggs remains a mystery. Named ‘The Void’, this place is the alleged end of time, guarded by a smoke serpent Alioth. It’s parallel to a location in the comics named ‘Temporal Limbo’, which has conceptual similarities and arcs involving the TVA. But the setting is not as meticulous as shown in the series.
An aerial shot showing the Stark Tower quickly suggests that it’s a post-apocalyptic New York, with a surprising amount of greenery. A suspension bridge, later on, suggests otherwise. The only close resemblance the bridge has is with Japan’s Great Seto Bridge. But after spotting the Pyramids of Giza and Petronas Twin Towers, I stopped looking. Maybe the setting doesn’t have any intrinsic value after all, and is created to amuse and instill a feeling of chaos in that place. After all, who would prune entire landmarks?
In one particular scene where Mobius was driving back, we are shown a portal in the distance, dumping something. It is an inert thing, and not a variant justifies the existence of other objects or landmarks since a futuristic NY would be oddly specific. And the way some Easter eggs are thrown around for an unbothered audience to see, they can hardly be dismissed as simple nods to the comics. More likely a subtle approach to portraying the significance of what infinite realities mean.
Mad Titan Variant
Perhaps the most on-the-nose Easter egg in television history is the Thanoscopter. In the comics, before obsessing over other coloured jewels, Thanos obsessed over the Space Stone (in cube shape) particularly. And his transport of choice to obtain an Infinity Stone was… a helicopter, with his name inscribed in block letters on the tail. He had a rather hard time too, hassling with Hellcat. Earlier on in the series, Mobius mentioned their glory days, pruning Kree, Vampires, and Titans. Since the Eternals never engaged in any cinematic event, the only Titan left is Thanos himself, probably pruned from a branch along with the helicopter, and devoured by Alioth, defenseless.
The creator of Thanos, Jim Starlin expressed his annoyance after Avengers: Endgame was released, saying that Thanos’s double-edged blade resembled the copter. The approach in Loki is perhaps the best comedic way to rid the character of an embarrassing moment.
God of Thunder Variant
A few pranks on siblings in a 1500 year lifespan are inevitable. The most ridiculous one the Trickster pulled on Thor in the comics is perhaps turning him into a frog. He also made an appearance in a What if issue featuring X-Men as new Asgardians and Storm taking his place. And in this episode of Loki, as we transition to the underground base of the Loki variants, we are shown the MjoInir, as well as an armored frog (read Throg) struggling to break free of the container he’s sealed in. Thus, the transformation did happen in the MCU at some point before Iron Man. What did Throg possibly do to end up in The Void is a food for thought. But Loki certainly isn’t the only mischievous Asgardian.
The Accuser’s Army
We don’t know if Mobius mentioning vampires is a hint to the upcoming Blade. But we get to confirm that the Kree he mentioned is indeed Ronan’s army. A shot of the Lokis looking over at Alioth has Ronan’s battleship from Captain Marvel and Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 1 – The Dark Aster. Already wrecked and obnoxiously close to Alioth, it is safe to presume that he got what he deserved.
Infiltrated SHIELD Variant
The Kree are not the only ‘culprits’ to get mass-pruned. A close-up of Classic Loki has a SHIELD helicarrier in the background, eating dust. This implies that in a branched reality, Hydra won the Washington fight indeed. Project INSIGHT of Captain America: The Winter Soldier sought to kill millions in order to save billions. Hence, we know there was a reality where Cap failed (or turned to the dark side) and Dr. Strange never went to Nepal. Scary thought. Either way, with Hydra, it never ends well.
The Void isn’t exactly the best place to put Easter eggs without them meaning anything canonically. Conversely, it helps strengthen the lore more. A Yellow-jacket helmet or a conspiracy theory from the 50s (ref. USS Eldridge), Loki continues to play around with fun ideas while paying homage to the source material. With a place never featured in the comics, we are counting each minute before the season finale kicks in. An absence of a post-credit scene is frustrating. But, we’ve got an extra 4 minutes of Loki content to pump down the adrenaline.
With the Episode 5 premiere, Disney+ released a Simpson short too, titled The Good, The Bart and The Loki. The Loki is voiced by Tom Hiddlestone and is banished by Odin to Springfield where the short story continues. With a brisk pace, they managed to cram in every MCU character related or unrelated to Loki possible. And we get to hear the epic Avengers theme for the first time after 2019. The story continues directly after the events of Thor (2011) and ends with the TVA. That surely is more than enough for him to qualify as a Variant too. The Simpsons in the MCU — we couldn’t ask more from the God of Outcasts.
Shudipto is a replicant with the emotional range of a labradoodle.