The Principal Point

In a sign that nature is healing, Disney is once again blitzing the world with Marvel content. Disney released the trailers (and dates!) for its Marvel shows that have been coming and coming and may, in 2021, actually arrive. I will focus our attention particularly on the Loki series, it being an incontrovertible truth of modern American culture that the principal point of the Marvel franchise is Loki.

Now, I am not going to fangirl about this. In the first place, I have my dignity. In the second, I have noticed that becoming A Fan is the first step on the road to inevitable disappointment, a lesson constantly reinforced during football season. I will say that the trailer is unexpectedly chaotic and creative. A bit of it (the hooded figure, the battlefield) reminds me of the recent Star Wars films, which were polished, professional, and without inspiration. Most of it makes a better impression than that: kaleidoscopic, energetic, different. You feel that the people making it might actually be having fun.

The trailer is a mishmash of enticing fragments: the crash-land in the desert, post-apocalyptic New York, the mysterious time-control organization. We have a triumphant Avengers-era Loki, gloriously saying Glorious, and the TVA showing Loki his alternate life (and self?). There’s a brilliant suggestion that Loki is D.B. Cooper, and a mystifying shot of Loki surrounded by thugs scraped out of a seedy intergalactic bin and wearing Vote Loki campaign buttons. Between the corruption of democratic politics, and the leprechaunish suit Loki sports, it rather suggests Tammany Hall. The Black Widow seems to make an appearance, in an atmospherically devastated landscape, but probably Disney is just being mean.

Whether all of this comes together in a coherent and satisfying way is still unknown. The chance of emotional depth, and a genuine meaningfulness, is unlikelier yet. Marvel usually has more fun than it does heart, and always more action than it does reflection. I take caution, too, that Disney is capitalizing on the proven popularity of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. When Disney cashes in on past successes, it often does so tediously.

But still: I’m paying attention. I am even – tentatively, when I stop reminding myself of the inevitable road to disappointment – a little excited.