Let’s start this by saying, no, I have not read the comics. I’ve read probably two superhero comics in my lifetime: One X-Men when I was ten and another Spiderman, when I was waiting at the Channel Tunnel on my way to France when I was a teenager. The closest I’ve come to reading comics is reading Mickey magazine books in French when I was little (or I suppose reading the silly comics in my Kraze Club magazine at eleven). I have no knowledge of the comics to compare Loki too so I compare it to what I do know: other TV shows and films.
With that being said, is Loki exactly like Doctor Who? Nearly, pretty much, yes. At times I would say to my mother (especially when they were at the apocalypse on the moon) that Loki and Sylvie reminded me of the Master and Jodie Whitaker’s Doctor. Is that a problem for me? No. Loki was an amazingly written show which deserves all of the praise it receives. Was it perfect? Of course not. There were odds and ends that needed a bit of tweaking but overall it was only minor (certainly compared to a certain other Marvel show that I found so painful to watch that I couldn’t watch past episode 4).
So why the Doctor Who comparison? Is it just because it’s time travel, other planets and British accents? Of course not. It’s a combination of many different things. It also reminded me of the DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, with the comparison between the corrupt Time Keepers/TVA and the Time Masters of the first series of Legends (even the Time Bureau wasn’t perfect). Every time travel show follows a pattern. They can’t help it. It’s the personalities within it and what they do to play with this pattern that differentiate them. Writing any type of story is the exact same. We’re all derivative of something else. The Loki writers aren’t going to be able to break a thousand year old pattern.
Loki isn’t brand new. The shots looked like they were filmed in the same areas as Doctor Who. The corruption represented in the TVA is very ‘pay no attention to the man behind the curtain’ from The Wizard of Oz. Assigning people numbers instead of names (e.g. Hunter B-15) has been used plenty of times in dystopian novels and the villain to hero concept has been a trend long before it was a trend (Paradise Lost was hated at the time it was written for humanising the devil and his decisions).
Sylvie I compared to Jodie Whitaker’s Doctor for a few simple reasons: English, clever, blonde and carried herself confidently. She was a good person with a dark past. She’d lost her entire home and people. Sylvie is what the Doctor could have been if they’d chosen to only see the darkness they’d been surrounded by. Sylvie is the Doctor without what makes them the Doctor: the joy of living life. I loved this twist and I think Sylvie’s script was incredible. She was recognisably a Loki even without all of his traits and her ending made sense. The Doctor almost made those decisions themselves on multiple occasions– but there marks the difference again. Sylvie was willing to carry on going and wouldn’t listen to any ‘companion’ telling her otherwise. She was a Doctor who’d been alone too long.
Tom Hiddleston was as good as ever. He built a comfortable relationship with everyone around him. To compare him to Doctor Who, yet again, I would say that he was the Master. He was the Master if he felt inferior. The Master would always try to defeat the Doctor, no matter what. He wanted control because he felt superior to everyone. He was a Time Lord. It was his right to rule an inferior species. Loki twisted this feeling because, although this is the impression he gives off, the writing allowed him to show that the actuality of it was he felt inferior to other gods and that’s what made him try to be superior. He wanted to prove he belonged in Asgard. He deserved to be treated the same as his brother.
We got to see him learn his lesson by the end of Ragnarok and into Infinity War, but this Loki proved that he would learn it over and over again. He could learn it earlier than these two films, if he’d only had the right people around him. In short, where Sylvie lacked her ‘companions’, Loki was a Master that needed a ‘companion’ to stop him and show him the right way. It wasn’t surprising to see him try and save He Who Remains as he had taken on the role of Sylvie’s companion and wanted to do right by her, the same way Mobius had done right by him. (Another comparison I could make here is Once Upon A Time when a person’s heart is darkened and their loved ones try to prevent it).
And of course, an obvious Doctor Who comparison is with the multiple variants or ‘lives’ on He Who Remains planet/time. Although I will admit an Alligator Doctor would be an interesting series for them to write (I need a fan comic of that yesterday, please). Maybe that’s who will replace Jodie Whitaker? Probably not but if it was an April Fools joke they pulled it would be hilarious.
Overall Loki was a great time. It set up the future projects (as Marvel products usually do) and it made me excited to see what’s next. After ten years they can still make people want to watch more, which is the mark of good planning, writing and film/TV-making. It’s a writers dream to have enough skill to make that happen for your own work.
You may have noticed I said there was some minor faults and there was. A bit of the writing, especially early on, could be a bit clunky (specifically between Sylvie and Loki early on) but it improved over time. No episode wasn’t needed and Miss Minutes, the Tara Strong-voiced cartoon, served as much of a purpose as anyone else. Everybody else jumped when she appeared in the last episode, right? Perfectly done.
Loki deserves to be loved. It gave us joy and (ironically) purpose every Wednesday in a time when it’s hard to find either. Thank you, Loki. Thank you Disney and Marvel. Looking forward to what you have in store next (though I would like a word with the writers of your former program, please).
Thank you for reading this far. I know it doesn’t have pictures. Usually I would have drawn some but I just wanted to get my thoughts down and gush over Loki a bit and drawing takes me a long time compared to writing. I hope you enjoyed reading. What do you think of Loki? Too much like Doctor Who or you enjoyed it regardless? I’d love to know.