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'Loki' creator Michael Waldron on pushing for Kang & realizing he was making a 'multiverse show'
Loki's creators looks back on how the show evolved to fit the Marvel multiverse.
Working in the Marvel Cinematic Universe means finding a balance between an external framework that's already been set by the team shepherding the whole franchise and the new story you want to tell. By many accounts, creators who step into the MCU have a certain freedom, but they also have guardrails put in place by the likes of Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige and the larger production machine, so crafting a show or a film is about finding a way to do something new within those guardrails. For Loki head writer Michael Waldron, that meant several moments of adaptation, building to certain reveals that he didn't plan when he started the show.
Speaking to The Playlist this week about his time in the MCU, which now includes Loki and the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Waldron described learning Loki's involvement in Avengers: Endgame via a phone call in a parking garage, setting up his pitch for the show. Once he knew that Loki would steal the Space Stone and end up in the hands of the TVA, Waldron was ready to go in and pitch a show about Loki helping to hunt down a variant of himself across time. What happened next, as the show took shape, made it clear that time travel wasn't actually going to be the main crux of Loki's concerns.
"I brought to them the idea of Sylvie Lushton, a version of The Enchantress, which we kind of fused into an idea of a variant Loki," Waldron said. "And then it became clear early on because one of the first things we had to do in the writer’s room was define the actual rules and nature of time travel in this show. And what does the TVA do and why do they do it? And it became clear to us that according to kind of the rules of time travel, they’d been laid out in Endgame and according to the rules of time travel that made sense to me and that we wanted to run within the show, really, time travel was kind of the multiverse as … It’s like time travel. We were like, 'We’re really making a multiverse show, more than we’re making a time travel show.' The TVA shifted to like, 'O.K., these guys are actually guarding against a multiverse.'"
Within Marvel's larger timeline, the idea of the multiverse was present in Avengers: Endgame, but really ramped up over the course of Loki, as it became clear Marvel would be playing with the concept in even more upcoming stories. With that in mind, and with the knowledge that Kang the Conqueror would be showing up soon in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Waldron leaned into the notion of concluding his series with a Kang reveal.
"And so that’s when He Who Remains is just kind of an old creepy guy in the comics, and I pushed and Marvel was very receptive to it, the idea, this should be a variant of Kang," Waldron said. "Because I knew Kang was coming down the pipe as a villain in the MCU and it just felt too delicious to not have him intertwined in our time travel story somehow. And so then it was just ... upon us to justify his role in this place, but Marvel was very supportive of all that."
With Kang in place, Waldron and company then had to craft what he called "a million different endings" for Loki Season 1, eventually with the idea in mind that they'd actually put a cliffhanger in place to set up Season 2. That cliffhanger, and the final days of Loki's Season 1 production, all coincided with Waldron's work on Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which meant he had to end one chapter while focusing on starting another, to say nothing of looking ahead to Loki Season 2.
"The headaches I have are probably intertwined," he said. "I mean, it’s all intertwined and it’s all stands alone. Like a great comic universe, I think that one thing certainly informs the other. You’re going to have a better time watching the next chapter of an MCU story if you’ve seen the stuff before it. But also, hopefully, even if you’ve never if you’ve walked in off the street, you’ll still have a blast. It should be good enough that it stands on its own."
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness arrives May 6. Loki Season 2 is coming soon.
If you're looking for other sci-fi and horror to check out in the meantime, head to Peacock for some spine-tingling thrillers like Day of the Dead and plenty of sci-fi TV shows like Battlestar Galactica and Warehouse 13.