We are burdened with glorious interviews.
Marvel Studios has been on a hot streak with their Disney+ shows lately, giving us a wonderfully surreal adventure in WandaVision and an action-packed blockbuster in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Their latest series Loki is a big departure from these two, featuring the Nordic god of mischief as he is apprehended by the Time Variance Authority for doing something he shouldn’t have. Honestly, what else is new?
The series pairs Loki up with Mobius M. Mobius, a TVA agent tasked with capturing dangerous time criminals called variants. Mobius enlists Loki’s help in hunting down one particularly evasive variant, but can the god of mischief turn over a new leaf and break away from the villainous path he’s been set on? Time will tell. Pun intended.
We recently had the opportunity to talk to a member of Loki’s cast: Wunmi Mosaku. She plays Hunter B-15, a high ranking hunter of the TVA deadset on finding a dangerous variant. She talked to us about her love for Black Panther, how she came aboard the series and why exactly her character detests this Loki variant so much.
Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Wunmi Mosaku: I was definitely a fan, and I became one after Black Panther. I hadn't really watched anything beforehand. I really loved Black Panther with all my heart. I didn't expect these conversations to be happening in a superhero film, with ideas and themes that matter to me as a Black Nigerian living in the diaspora. I very much wanted to be a part of the MCU, and I just kind of put that out there - but I didn't call my agent or anything. I was auditioning for a few years, a couple years ago for something that had no title. It was super mysterious, and I didn't know what I was auditioning for. And then I got a call a couple months later, saying I had been offered a part in Loki. And I had no idea I had auditioned for Loki, so it was really cool and exciting.
I was daunted initially, for sure, because it's... it's Marvel, and it's huge. But the great thing about Marvel is that they make you feel like a part of the family very quickly. From the readthrough, everything feels really normal, like it does on every other project. And then I also know [Tom Hiddleston] and [Gugu Mbatha-Raw], so walking into that room was very easy, because I felt like I had friends there already. The whole Marvel thing disappeared quite quickly after meeting people from part of that family.
Wunmi Mosaku: I mean, any variant is someone that's gonna piss her off, because you're making [her] life hard. So a variant is someone that is not going to be held in the best regard by B15. It just depends on how easily you come with me, that’s how easily I treat you. But if there's any kind of resistance, you're gonna have to deal with the whole of her.
Wunmi Mosaku: I didn't go to [Loki] school. Maybe I did too much homework, but I didn't go to the school. I just watched all the films with Loki in it.
Wunmi Mosaku: You know, I had quite a small part in Batman v Superman and a tiny part in Fantastic Beasts. I'm basically cut out of Fantastic Beasts (laughs)! This definitely felt like a huge project in comparison. This is really my first time being a substantial character in this kind of big superhero [series], so I haven't really got much to compare it to. I was only in Batman v Superman for like, five days. It definitely felt like we had more time. Being on a studio lot, you definitely have a feeling of…everything's gonna be okay, because you don't have lots of different elements coming into play.
Wunmi Mosaku: I mean, I really love T’Challa and Killmonger. I just really love them both, because I feel like I understand both arguments. And I really felt torn when Killmonger was killed. Like I was very unhappy about that! But I also didn't want him to win. Like I said, that was my way into the MCU. And I'm gonna stick with those two, because if it wasn't for those guys, I wouldn't have known how amazing the MCU was.
Wunmi Mosaku: The TVA is the only world she knows. It's its own universe. I think that's what drives her, is that they are in charge of keeping things in line and keeping the timeline sacred and whole. They're looking down on everything else and watching how it works out, but they're separate. So her motivation is formed from that world, and that world is just about keeping the timeline in check. That's the whole purpose of it.
We also got to participate in an interesting press conference for Loki right before the series premiere, attended by Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Owen Wilson (Mobius M. Mobius), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Ravonna Renslayer), Wunmi Mosaku (Hunter B-15), series director Kate Herron, creator and writer Michael Waldron, and head of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige. The group answered a slew of questions regarding the conception of this show, what it felt like to reprise this version of Loki and the David Fincher of it all.
On the concept of reprising the god of mischief after his last appearance in Avengers: Endgame, Tom Hiddleston said, “I was so excited by the idea, but I also had to scratch my head at it. That scene in Avengers: Infinity War had felt so final, so conclusive as the end of Loki's story. But in that scene in [Avengers: Endgame], Loki picks up the Tesseract and disappears in a puff of smoke. Where does he go? When does he go? How does he get there?”
Surprisingly, Loki coming back in this form was not always part of the plan. Referring to Loki ending up with the TVA, Kevin Feige said, “I think we did not know it when we shot Infinity War, but I think we did when we shot Endgame, is my recollection of it. What that meant and where that specifically would go, we didn’t know. But one of my favourite things coming out of Endgame was people saying that we forgot to tie up the loose end of Loki [...] At that point, we did know that there was Disney+ and the show coming. It became very exciting to make people wait until we figured out what the show would be.”
Hiddleston will have played Loki for 10 years by now, but Owen Wilson is a newcomer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The actor expressed excitement at being a part of it and witnessing fans get so excited over the trailer, though he admitted, “I didn't quite understand the secrecy surrounding this until I saw that the fan base is so revved up and passionate.” He’s still not used to the secrecy, however. “You definitely are walking on eggshells. You're not quite sure [if things happened] in episode three, or four, or one, or have they already seen it?”
Gugu Mbatha-Raw is also new to the MCU, and she plays Ravonna Renslayer - a high-ranking judge in the TVA with a soft spot for Mobius and his shenanigans. On the differences between Renslayer in the show and in the comics, the actor said, “Kate explained to me that this was sort of more of an origin story for Ravonna Renslayer, predating some of the stuff in the comics. All that stuff is there, but there was also the opportunity to feel like we were starting with something fresh with the TVA that hadn't been seen before by fans onscreen.”
Wunmi Mosaku felt like her character (Hunter-B15) being entirely new in the Marvel universe was liberating. Mosaku said there was, “no pressure because no one's got any ideas of what they want her to be. I can just bring you who she is, and you have to accept it.”
Series director Kate Herron also spoke about her inspirations for some of the show’s more crime-thriller-like aspects. “Stylistically, I would say me and my DP Autumn were really inspired by a lot of noir films. You can see that in our lighting and how we approached it. Se7en is a very heavy influence. There's a little reference to Se7en in episode two of a little needle drop, which I'm sure fans of that film will recognise instantly.”
Series creator Michael Waldron echoes this, saying, “[David] Fincher for sure. Zodiac and Silence of the Lambs were two specific ones we were really looking at a lot in the writers' room." Feige says that the real inspiration came from Kate Herron herself. Marvel Studios knew that they wanted to do a Loki series with time travel elements, and producers Stephen Broussard, Kevin Wright and himself had always been fans of the TVA from the comics, but Herron elevated the concept with her pitch.
“We loved the idea of it, but just didn't know exactly what to do with it before Kevin and Stephen had the idea of making it a major part of this show. But it's really Kate's meetings with us and her pitch that brought in all those references, and allowed us to see this in a different genre than we were anticipating.”
Waldron also teases that the show’s time-travelling aspects might not turn out the way fans are expecting. "People hear it's a show about Loki affecting historical events, and I think everybody maybe expects Loki riding with Paul Revere. That's the lowest hanging fruit version of that. We wanted to subvert those expectations and go to the places that people might know but didn't know well, and would just be exciting to see.”
Tom Hiddleston also spoke about how his character is one of the longest tenured in the MCU at this point, saying that he loves coming back to Loki. “I always have. And I feel so fortunate that I'm still here, and that there are still new aspects to the character every time that I learn about. I think he's a character of huge range. It never feels like the same experience.”
Owen Wilson talked about being taught the entire history of MCU by Tom Hiddleston, in a series of lectures the cast and crew affectionately dubbed ‘Loki School’. “Before we started filming, Tom very generously and patiently took me through the whole MCU mythology and Loki. We were calling them the ‘Loki Lectures’. I think that was really important and really helpful to our dynamic once we started filming the scenes, because some of our conversations would work its way in.”
Hiddleston added that the Loki Lectures benefited him as well. “It was such an interesting time, trying to compress the experience of my time in the MCU and six movies. Mobius is an expert in Loki. He knows more about Loki than Loki does. Owen asked such insightful, intelligent questions that made me rethink various aspects of the character. I think our conversations found their way into the scenes themselves.”
It looks like we can look forward to a whole lot more fun Loki-Mobius interactions as the series rolls on, but time will tell. New episodes of Loki premiere every Wednesday, and something tells us you should look forward to Episode 2 quite a bit next week. No spoilers, of course.