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Loki director Kate Herron on Kang, jet skis, and finding the right spot for that kiss
We may be finished romping with the God of Mischief for the moment, but the first season of Loki has definitely made an impression. It left huge ramifications not only for the second season of the series but for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole.
Director Kate Herron oversaw every bit of madness in Season 1. The complicated relationship between Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) was under her purview, as was “He Who Remains” (Jonathan Majors). Was Majors just playing that character, was he Kang the Conqueror, or was he Immortus… all characters seen in Marvel Comics?
SYFY WIRE recently caught up with Herron to discuss everything about the series that had us wondering how a show like this was even possible in the first place.
We got six episodes, a cliffhanger, and the promise of a second season. Was that always the plan?
Basically, we always knew we had these six episodes and that we were bringing our story into that. And then obviously, as we were making the show, yeah, everyone was very excited and wanted to make a second season. So that's when, basically, the little tease at the end that we added with the “Loki will return” came up. So we added that later, once obviously we knew the show would be continuing.
Was there ever a thought that we'd meet the Jonathan Majors character at the end of the season, and that would be it for the series? We'd be left with that cliffhanger and we'd see the fallout in other things?
We always knew they were going to meet “He Who Remains” at the Citadel at the End of Time. The very final moment where Loki's in the alternate TVA, that ending we landed on later, I think once we knew that the story would be continuing. But in terms of the six episodes, it was always intended that yeah, it would kind of end with them with “He Who Remains.” And then I assume that, yeah, we would kind of see the ripple effect of that across other shows or movies.
Speaking of “He Who Remains” played by Jonathan Majors, are you willing or able to tell me definitively that he's Immortus and/or a variant of Kang the Conqueror?
So I would say he draws inspiration from Immortus, and he's a variant of Kang obviously, and “He Who Remains” as well. We drew inspiration from the comics, but it's kind of like Sylvie. He's a unique character to the show, but he's obviously pulling from the comics as inspiration.
Did you think that Alligator Loki would be as big of a hit as he was?
Do you know what? I think you can never tell how popular a character will be, but we just all, like me and the team, all loved Alligator. We just thought he was amazing, and yeah, we loved him as a team, and we hoped that people would love him as much as we did, but yeah, you can never predict. I think we had an idea that people would find him fun, but yeah, who knew how big a hit he would be with people.
Speaking of things that were hits, there were many Easter eggs such as Throg in a jar (voiced by Chris Hemsworth), a quick glimpse of the Thanos copter, etc. At what point in the process did those things get put in?
So the copter came in… we were designing, we had illustrations, and I think we were all talking about things that could be fun to put in the Void. And my executive producer from Marvel, Kevin Wright, he was like, "Oh, we've got to put the copter in. We've got to do it." Because it's a perfect place for it to be, right? Because the Void is where things go that shouldn't be, so that's how that got in there.
And then in terms of Frog of Thunder, we had a scene that originally was in Episode 1, and it just wasn't quite… the scene was very funny as a standalone scene, but it happened basically right before Loki saw his mother dying, and tonally it just wasn't feeling quite right for what we should be doing in that moment. And so we didn't end up using that bit.
I had the shot design in Episode 5 where I knew I wanted to go through the dirt, down into the lair, and I think in my head I was always kind of like, "OK, insert Easter egg, and we'll find one that works for it." And I think we were kind of circling a few things, but then when, obviously when I knew that frog wasn't going to be in Episode 1, I was like, "Oh, well we have to put him in episode five in that moment, because then at least we can get him in there." I'd recorded Chris for that scene in Episode 1, so…
Another hit was Richard E. Grant as Classic Loki. How did he come to be cast and dressed in a classic Loki costume?
I think he's someone that we'd all spoken about and we knew that he and Tom were really good friends. I think Richard had even collected an award once on Tom's behalf and said that he was his dad as a joke, because they look so similar. And I know, as for me and the team, we knew we wanted to have this original Loki, and so I think we were always like, "Oh, let's try and get Richard." And so we just, we went straight to him and he was up for it. And yeah, so that for me was amazing. I love Withnail and I, and I just, yeah, I was so excited to have him.
And then in terms of the costume, I think for me I was excited by the idea of it, because he's the original Loki. Marvel has a very specific MCU in-house style with the costumes, and so I thought, "Oh, it could be so fun to put this original Loki in an outfit that maybe Loki would have worn in a movie like 40 years ago." So, yeah. So that felt like the right way to go for it, and yeah, and obviously he completely owns it and looked amazing.
A big moment in the finale was the kiss between Sylvie and Loki. Was this in any way Loki finally learning to love himself, or was this just the natural culmination of everything the two characters had gone through?
I think it's a mixture of both, right? Thematically, it is about self-love and it is about accepting himself, but on the other hand, they aren't the same person. They're two different Lokis, so I think it is a culmination of their feelings for each other, and a goodbye, really, for Sylvie's part, because I don't think it's a trick when she kisses him. I think it's more that she has to do her mission, but it doesn't diminish her feelings towards him. And I think for him, it's just he hopes… it’s the buildup of these feelings he's had that he's been trying to work out how to act on them or vocalize them.
Was that moment always going to happen no matter what, or was there a discussion about whether to do it or not?
I think it wasn't necessarily a discussion about whether they should kiss or not. I think it was more about the placement of the kiss. So for a while, there was a discussion of like, this was before my time, but I know the writers had spoke about should it be at crater lake in Episode 3? And then I think that when I joined, we were always discussing like, "Oh, where should the kiss be? What would be the right moment for that?" And I think it became clear to us that actually, no, we should hold off on this and it should happen in Episode 6.
Thematically, is there one thing above all that you hope fans of this series take away from it?
I think my one is that Lokis always survive. Just because we've left him in this crazy, alternate space, and also because I really wanted to do that shot of him in the Time Theater, where he's had his heartbroken, and he sat down, and he looks completely beaten by it all, but then Tom's performance… he does it so beautifully where you see him collect himself and he's like, "No, I've still got fight. There's still hope." And he kind of pulls himself together, and then he gets up and is like, "I'm going to go try and sort this out." I think for me, what was really important was that he's been on this journey that's completely changed who he is as a character, but there’s still fight in him. He's not broken by the fact that it didn't completely go to plan.
If there was only ever going to be one season, would we have possibly seen Mobius on a jet ski? Is that something that we should hope for in Season 2? Fans really want to see that.
I can't speak for Season 2, but I would say I think for us it's been so fun, because I mean, I don't think we ever had him on a jet ski. I think the closest I had was we had this jet ski inflatable that we put into Roxxcart, which was fun. He runs past it. But I think, honestly, it was so funny. Me and the team were like, "Man, we should've put him on a jet ski in Season 1, because people were so obsessed with it." I don't know what the writers' plans are going forward, but as a fan, I can hope.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
All six episodes of Loki are available on Disney+ for streaming right now.