Over the weekend, Rolling Stone released an interview with Loki showrunner/head writer and time travel aficionado Michael Waldron. The interview by Alan Sepinwall, was chock full of good stuff, and there were a few things that even the most in the know fan might have missed.
Here are 10 things we learned:
- 1) Alligator Loki started as an off-the-cuff remark in a meeting with Marvel producers Kevin Wright and Stephen Broussard. That’s right, everyone’s favorite diabolical reptile was just a pitch for how wild the show’s tone could go…and it stuck.
- 2) Waldron’s love of jet skis is why Owen Wilson’s Mobius is into them. When not basking in the glory of the WWE storylines that were so influential in his work, Waldron apparently spent his college days on a lake on a jet ski. Since much of the Mobius character mythology was open to creation and not defined in the comic books, Waldron gave him a shot of his Jet Ski love.
- 3) There were hundreds of other Loki variants on the writers’ room whiteboards that didn’t make it to the show, including a Loki or Mobius variant with “tiny eagle eyes.” Waldron won’t spill the beans on any of the other whiteboard variants because “they may pop up elsewhere.” According to the interview, the Rick and Morty influence from comedy writer Tom Kauffman had some “bananas” episode drafts floating around.
- 4) One of their writing goals was to make sure they stayed true to the time-travel rules set up in Avengers: Endgame while still coming up with their own thing. When you consider all 6 hours of the show and just how completely reliant it was on time travel, that makes total sense. Waldron’s TVA employees understand “time travel on a deeper level, probably more comprehensively than the Avengers do in Endgame.” When you put this show together with the time-travel premise of Rick and Morty as well as Waldron’s time-travel romance The Worst Guy of All Time, he’s really got a thing for messing with the branches of time.
- 5) Time travel was really the story scaffolding that allowed us to take this emotional trip with the characters. Building off of #4, there’s a ton of “work” that the audience didn’t see in Loki to really make sure that time travel made sense. If the time travel stuff didn’t hold up, it would have distracted from the “emotional journeys of the characters.”
- 6) Marvel and Disney had a 20-page document with cool stuff they wanted to possibly do in Loki. Those folks knew that they wanted the show to be about Loki running afoul of the TVA from the start.
- 7) Waldron came up with the idea that Loki would fall in love with a female version of himself. Waldron says he loves “writing any romance.” and that “it hasn’t been done a ton in the MCU.” Again, this is totally in line with Waldron’s past sci-fi romance script. Sylvie, played by actress Sophia Di Martino, helped Loki see the good in himself and therefore redeem himself.
- 8) A version of Kang was always going to be in the show. He Who Remains and the Immortus mythology was something Waldron and the writers knew they wanted to build around.
- 9) Tom Cruise’s motivational character speaker Frank T.J. Mackey, from the movie Magnolia, was a considerable influence in how Waldron wrote He Who Remains.
- 10) Waldron states that a second season wasn’t approached as a given in the writer’s room at the beginning. While he and the other writers were working on season one, they wanted to make sure that the season could stand alone if that was the only chance they got for Loki and the TVA. Seasons of Mad Men (hello, D.B. Cooper reference at the start of the show!) and The Leftovers were huge influences in how one individual season stands alone as a story. During development, things shifted, and Loki got a second season. The ending of season one, with TVA and Kang statues, was not how they would end it if Loki was a limited series. Waldron has that version, “My own little play, that I perform with my action figures.“, locked away. When asked if he would return for season 2 of Loki he replies in typical Marvel fashion, “[long pause] Time will tell.”