Loki Continues To Amaze On Streaming, Should Marvel Change Course?

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

marvel loki

It’s an open secret the Marvel Cinematic universe is in free fall. The Marvels has become the franchise’s lowest-earning film, and the ongoing legal drama with Jonathan Majors may cause Disney to change or completely scrap its future plans involving Kang the Conqueror.

Marvel Needs To Learn From Loki

Even Bob Iger is starting to wonder what Disney can do to recapture some of the old MCU magic, but it looks like the answer may be right in front of us. Variety reports that Loki’s season 2 finale made the show “the No. 1 streaming original series for the week of Nov. 6-12,” making us think future Marvel movies and shows should be more like Loki.

Audiences Love A Familiar Character

loki season 2

In recent years, the MCU has faced an obvious logistical problem: between aging actors and expiring contracts, it has been necessary to kill or retire fan-favorite characters such as Iron Man and Captain America. Accordingly, Disney has tried to introduce new characters, but audiences seem to have little interest in newer characters like Shang-Chi and the Eternals. That brings us to a simple example the success of Loki should teach Marvel: at the end of the day, audiences want more of characters they already love.

Fans Want More Of The Characters They Already Love

Despite his trickster ways, audiences fell in love with Loki right away thanks to the sheer charm of Tom Hiddleston’s performance: he went from being a Thor villain to being the Big Bad for the first Avengers film to eventually headlining his own Marvel series on Disney+. The character is so beloved that Disney even creatively brought him back after he tragically died fighting Thanos. Loki’s success as well as the buzz surrounding Daredevil: Born Again should teach Marvel the astoundingly simple lesson that fans want more of the characters they love and not less.

The Need For Variants

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Ever since Marvel went all-in on the Multiverse, we’ve gotten to see some very crazy things onscreen. This includes John Krasinski as Mr. Fantastic (more or less cast by fan demand), Patrick Stewart reprising his role as Charles Xavier, and the return of Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. However, the success of Loki’s second season provides another lesson Marvel must learn: if audiences don’t care about these multiversal variants, then they are nothing more than gratuitous cameos.

Think about it this way. Why were audiences excited to see the three Spider-Man characters in No Way Home but lukewarm about seeing the Illuminati killed in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness? It’s because we had years to get to know the Spider-man characters and only minutes to know the Illuminati.

Loki’s second season went out of its way to make us care about Variants like Sylvie and Victor Timely to the point that we understood why Loki would sacrifice everything to save them, and Marvel needs to start treating all of the Multiverse with such care or just stop using it altogether. 

Fans Want Genuine Character Arcs

The most bittersweet part of Loki’s second season finale was watching the culmination of the title character’s arc. He entered the MCU as a mad god who would do anything to sit upon a throne of power, but he was redeemed by his love for his friends to the point that he’d sacrifice everything to keep them alive and happy.

In many ways, it’s the most impressive character arc Marvel has given us, and that brings us to the final major lesson Disney should learn from this show: at the end of the day, fans love big swings that knock big character arcs out of the park.

Before Loki, the last great character arc we got was Iron Man: fans got to see Tony Stark transform from a selfish, privileged jerk to someone who sacrificed his life to save trillions of souls. Compared to that, most character arcs are very static…fan-favorite character Spider-Man is more or less the same by the end of each film, and even the beloved Guardians of the Galaxy haven’t really changed as characters over the years.

Attempted arcs fizzle with less familiar characters like the Eternals because we can’t exactly care about stuff like Kingo’s heel turn when we never had enough time to care about Kingo as a character. 

Marvel Can Find Glorious Purpose Once More

Fortunately, Loki’s success has laid out an easy (and dare we say “glorious?”) path for Marvel’s future success. We need strong characters to anchor shows and films, we need better characterization for our Variants, and we need real arcs that show us a full hero’s (or villain’s) journey.

Without that, the MCU is nothing but boring dialogue interspersed with muddy action scenes straight out of a PS3 cutscene. If you want to see how bad that can be, try to make it through all of Quantumania and tell us that Disney doesn’t need to look to Loki and let this god take the wheel for the future of the MCU.

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