Loki team tease show's inspirations: Mad Men, Blade Runner...and Teletubbies?
Loki director Kate Herron and head writer Michael Waldron detail some of the pop culture that inspired the six-episode Marvel show.
Loki, Disney+'s third Marvel TV show, has a diverse list of influences.
Spanning six episodes, the timey-wimey drama follows Tom Hiddleston's titular God of Mischief after he escaped with the Tesseract during the time heist in Avengers: Endgame. Unfortunately, his time on the run comes to an end when the Time Variance Authority — a bureaucratic organization tasked with safeguarding the proper flow of time — apprehends him because they need his help fixing all of the problems in the timeline he created. While the creative team can't share when and where Loki's new job will take him, they were willing to share some of the pop culture that inspired the look and tone of the series.
"I would describe it as big sci-fi with heart," director Kate Herron tells EW, pointing Jurassic Park as the platonic idea of that tone. "They're in these amazing sci-fi worlds, but Jurassic Park, for me at least, is about a guy working, 'Can I be a dad? How do I feel about kids?' I think that is very relatable. So I think for us with Loki, I think the thing I brought to it is that i'm very character-focused and I'm always trying to give the audience an understanding of, how does these characters feel in these big huge universes?"
For a show about Loki, that meant grounding the show's high-concept in the Asgardian's struggles with identity. To that end, head writer Michael Waldron looked to AMC's Mad Men as an example of how to tell rich character study.
"We're going to get to invest six episodes worth of time and get to tell maybe a more complex, layered character-driven story than you'd get to do in a big blockbuster where you've got so many characters to service in just a two-hour runtime," says Waldron. "That Mad Men influence as much philosophical and it was aesthetic."
With the TVA, Loki dives into a new corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When Herron went in to pitch for the show, she focused on that aspect and drew on some personal experience when she presented to the Powers That Be at Marvel.
"I actually spent a lot of my life working in admin offices as a temp, so I had a lot of personal experience in bureaucratic organizations to bring," she says with a laugh. "I was like, 'These are the detail we need to capture,' being someone who has worked in offices. And also, I love sci-fi, and I wanted to make the show just a big love letter to sci-fi and all the stuff that's inspired me to be a filmmaker."
Recalling Herron's pitch, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige adds: "She spent a lot of time talking about noir in her initial pitch with us and looking at Mobius, [Owen Wilson's TVA analyst], as a bit of a hard-boiled detective in a nonplussed way. Bringing that vibe to the look of the show, to the bureaucratic procedure of the show is very unique." To capture that feeling, the creative looked to Ridley Scott's 1982 classic Blade Runner, because "it was just a noir-ish, sci-fi, crime thriller," says Waldron.
Of course, the writers room also looked to the Marvel canon to inspire their approach to the TVA. "We drew inspiration from a wide breadth of ideas as the TVA shows up all throughout [Marvel]. There's Fantastic Four runs, where they're running around, and they're in She-Hulk in a cool way," says Waldron. "All of those stories were inspiration in just saying like, 'Alright, what is this crazy organization? And how can we now make them real in a way that you could actually shoot a TV show about them?'"
Finally, Herron also lists Terry Gilliam's Brazil and, curiously, The Teletubbies as some of her visual references, too. How does that last one play into the show? Says Herron, "You're gonna have to wait until [the show premieres]."
Loki premieres June 9 on Disney+.
This post has been updated.
Loki (TV Series)