I do not agree in the least with the popular vulgate that Marvel Studios has begun to lose steam. Unfortunately, I am old enough to remember the criticism of the first Avengers of 2012, when much of the international press (and many universal nerds) complained that the big crossover event had not been sealed by a major death – some were already calling at the time for the premature end of Iron Man – and the devastating alien invasion of New York had been resolved with a dinner with friends in the inevitable post-credit scene. Result?
Some time later came Avengers: Endgame, Iron Man was granted one of the most iconic deaths in film history, Robert Downey Jr turned to superstar status, and the film became the biggest commercial success ever (before James Cameron’s Avatar countered). Ultimately, Kevin Feige was right.
Now, positing that it is if not wrong at least unfair comparing Phase 4 of the MCU to the mega-success that came with the climax of the Infinity Saga because a contraction was widely expected in view of the franchise’s restart with the Multiverse Saga, by dint of doing the math, perhaps, we missed along the way the many new insights inserted by the Marvel Studios in the great narrative in eternal becoming of the saga but, fortunately, Loki TV show is back to reiterate them with his season number 2.
Loki Season 2: time flies
After the events of the sensational first season – a plongée on the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the well-positioned video camera so as to frame all the time (and times) of the franchise story told so far and already experimental in its She Hulk’s pre-breakdown-fourth-wall meta-concept that seemed to take us not so much to Marvel sets (as it did in certain passages of WandaVisionas right in the offices of the producers, in the seats of power and among the desks of the minds weaving the plots of the most popular saga of the last decade – Loki 2 picks up the story of Loki, Moebius, Kang the Conqueror and the Sacred Time Line, taking the Saga of the Multiverse a good step forward (to watch along with Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania).
Between determinism and otherness, even in this season 2 the filmic set-up seems to want to take a step back or pause, to show us creation as it is being created by its creators and, at the same time, to reflect on its own ultimate purpose. In the first season, the protagonist was offered the scripts of his life to sign as if they were a contract for the big play being continuously staged and Loki was called to reason and question the meaning of being a villain and the motivations that had guided him along his path (even going so far as to project the cult scenes and pivotal moments that had made him an icon), and Loki 2 continues this meta-textual approach with which Marvel seems to want to reason about itself and its work.
As is always the case in Pixar films, the reproduced images become the tool for condensing an entire experience and explaining its meaning (recall in the first series that sequence that seemed to be taken verbatim from the first epochal Toy Story) and not surprisingly in this second season (same level of action, same level of pathos, same level of reasoning about the concept) we will talk about roles to play, clichés to play, parts to identify with.
The shattering of time
The non-place of the Time Variance Authority – which is precisely the MCU’s fifth, an even bolder counterpoint than WandaVision’s real-time sitcom because ideally pointed inside Kevin Feige’s own office, where the Infinity Gems no longer matter so much as to become desk trinkets, mere gadgets to be exchanged among colleagues – is the central hub from which to observe the shattering of time, which rather than relative here is multi-relative, with scripts and montage scenes that play at creating endless loops and rewriting the rules of time travel stories and their paradoxes..
Great pure science fiction epic, great actors (also detached from the time is Jonathan Majors, who returns to the role of Variants of Kang the Conqueror with a test of nervous tics while in real life extra-set plays out career in court thanks to this wonderful neo-culture of ‘guilty until proven innocent’) and great entertainment. The Saga of the Multiverse continues – yes, continues and does not begin – to hit the mark.