Continuing his press work for Loki, head writer Michael Waldron spoke with Rolling Stone to break down everything Loki, including how Kang was inspired by Magnolia, how the Multiverse affects Phase Four, an alternate ending, Mobius’ jet skis, and even the surprise inspiration for Alioth!
JONATHAN MAJORS AS KANG
Speaking to the powerful casting of Jonathan Majors as He Who Remains (as a variant of future Marvel villain Kang), Michael Waldron set the record straight:
“The character was always written as a version of Kang, as early as the first draft of the script [he was] He Who Remains…We saw an opportunity to fuse that mythology with the Immortus mythology…It just felt right for Loki, because Loki…brought the Avengers together, and here is, directly related to the exploding of the multiverse, this event that will drive the events of Phase Four.
“When Jonathan came in, it allowed us to step on the gas of how eccentric and charismatic this character could be. I was inspired in the writing of He Who Remains by Tom Cruise’s character in Magnolia, trying to give it that Frank TJ Mackey energy a little bit. He captures that and then elevates it to something else that’s different and weird.”
Michael Waldron compared the MCU to a relay race, reiterating that “the name of the game over at Marvel is with each movie or TV show, make it the best it can possibly be…and trust that it will organically fit into the larger blueprint”.
He said the writers were all excited to introduce the first Kang variant, but remained wary that “it might not be the most sound storytelling to introduce a new character [as the big bad] at the very end that we’ve never seen before”. It was a bit of a relief for them to remember that comic fans would know Kang, and news fans would know Majors had been cast as Kang. But still, Michael Waldron noted that “the finale was only ever going to work if He Who Remains…serviced the Loki and Sylvie emotional story…ultimately [driving] the two of them apart.”
AN ALTERNATE ENDING
The finale of Loki ends with the surprise announcement of a season two. However, the writers room initially was “not operating as though there would be a second season…this should be a story that should stand on its own.”
In particular, Michael Waldron was influenced by The Leftovers and Mad Men, where each season was an individual story which also built on the larger narrative of the whole show. A consistent end goal for the writers was “to propel Loki forward into the MCU after the conclusion of our season. The only question was, would that be in an appearance in a movie, or would that be in a second season?” Does this mean, at one point, they were considering returning TVA Loki to the main MCU timeline? Will we still see TVA Loki return to the main movie universe in the future?
Because of the uncertainty about a second season, Michael Waldron revealed that he did draft an alternate ending to satisfyingly conclude Loki as a limited series, calling it his “own little play that I perform with my action figures”.
Many viewers and critics had questions about Sylvie’s original plan in episode 2, before Loki caused things to go awry in episode 3. Waldron clarified that Sylvie’s goal was to “empty out the TVA”. Scattering timeline reset charges throughout the Sacred Timeline was simply a means to “create a diversion. She’s not going to be able to create a multiverse from doing that”, quashing many fan theories that arose after episode 2. Michael Waldron explained that the TVA had enough “manpower to get out and take care of these events, but they [had] to scramble a lot of their minutemen teams” leaving the Time-Keepers unguarded.
For inspiration and accuracy, Michael Waldron entrusted assistants Ryan Kohler and Sophie Miller to study the comics full time, especially references to the TVA and Kang. But some of the more niche ideas even came from the producers. Kevin Wright discovered the obscure time-eating cloud Alioth, which helped the writers resolve a huge plot question between episodes 5 and 6.
“The best thing about working on these comic book shows is that if it’s from the comics, it doesn’t matter how much of a deus ex machina it is, it’s just cool, like, ‘I can’t believe you pulled that from the comics.’ … [As writers, we said,] “If we do this, and it feels like Twister, it’s going to be really cool.'”
MOBIUS’ JET SKIS
And lastly, Michael Waldron was asked about Mobius’ love of jet skis, which never gets resolved in the first season. Waldron confessed that he jet-skied often in college, and inadvertently imbued parts of himself into Mobius’ character, since Mobius was never really fleshed out in the comics.
“I just think there’s something so poignant — here Mobius is, a guy who is literally fighting to preserve all of time in the multiverse, and yet his interests are maybe the most humble, human, terrestrial, unremarkable thing you can think of. Just a jet ski. And when you’ve got Owen Wilson playing him and it’s just that much better.”
Did you love Loki? Do you want to see Waldron return for season two? Let us know on our social media! Michael Waldron’s upcoming projects include Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (March 25, 2022) and an untitled Star Wars movie produced by Kevin Feige. His return for Loki season two has yet to be confirmed.
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Source: Rolling Stone