Time travel, alternate realities and other universes have long fascinated moviegoers. It’s how we got classic hits like Back to the Future and Bill and Ted as well more modern time travel adventures like Doctor Who and one of Marvel’s most anticipated shows: Loki.
Loki, launching on June 9, marks the first time the beloved trickster will take a starring role in the MCU — but it’ll also be one of the first Marvel properties to really dive into time travel and how it actually works post-Endgame.
To prepare for the show, it’s time to take a look at time travel and how Loki might deal with its consequences. This Gizmodo Movie Night, we’re looking at the best films and TV shows that deal with all that “timey-wimey” goodness.
Doctor Who (1963 – )
Doctor Who is the show that seems most similar to Loki on a surface level. In this adventure, the time-travelling Doctor is sent to repair issues with time, space and everything in between.
There’s all kinds of history-spanning romps, time travel mishaps and plenty of alternate realities at play here.
For the seasons that appears to be most like the Loki TV show (based on early trailers) you’ll want to check out the Peter Capaldi’s run — seasons 8, 9 and 10. I
f the D.B. Cooper scenes in Loki‘s first trailer are anything to go by, expect the TV show to share much of its tongue-in-cheek DNA with this version of Doctor Who.
All eleven season of the modern Doctor Who TV show are now streaming on Stan in Australia.
Looper is a time travel adventure that sees Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Joe is ordered to kill off Bruce Willis’ Joe, who is actually Gordon-Levitt’s future self. It’s confusing, yes, but this is the world of Looper — a film that deals with alternate realities and the adventures of time-travelling assassins.
While it does tend to explore the more horrifying side of time travel (there’s a particularly disturbing scene where a man’s limbs are slowly cut off in the past, impacting his future self) it does explore many of the same themes as Loki. When the past is a mess, both protagonists are sent in to repair their mistakes.
Looper is currently streaming on Stan in Australia.
12 Monkeys (1995)
Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys is about a deadly viral pandemic that wipes out most of humanity. While it’s a little bit prescient in regards to our current circumstances, what makes it an important flick to watch before Loki is its exploration of time travel.
In the film, our wily protagonist is sent back to the past where he attempts to stop the outbreak of the virus from ever occurring. But along the way, 12 Monkeys also deals with issues of alternate realities, fallible memory and the cyclical nature of time. Many of these themes are likely to be explored in Loki, including the idea of being ‘erased’ from reality.
12 Monkeys is currently streaming on Netflix in Australia.
Mr. Nobody (2009)
Mr. Nobody is an experimental film about an old man recalling his fragmented past. But because his memory is so weak, what he actually recalls is a series of increasingly bizarre alternate realities which may or may not have been part of his life.
In one he grows up looking after his disabled father, but ultimately ends up in a coma after falling from his bike. In another, he lives with his mother and meets a young woman named Anna, with whom he falls in love. Each vision of his past becomes increasingly more bizarre as his alternate realities collide in his “old” self’s memory.
It’s a strange film, but one that’s beautiful and thought-provoking. Like others in this list, it deals with similar concepts to Loki and the idea that we can be more than the sum of our memories.
Mr. Nobody is not currently streaming in Australia, but you can buy or rent it from digital storefronts.
Bill & Ted Face The Music (2020)
Bill and Ted Face the Music is the most wholesome musical-time-travel-adventure ever made, and there’s no contest in that arena. As the third movie in a beloved franchise, it had a lot to live up to and honestly, Face the Music smashed it out of the park.
It’s beautiful, heartfelt and an incredibly good time, but it also goes surprisingly in-depth with its reality-spanning journey. While you don’t want to be spoiled too much, all you need to know is this movie sees the arrival of multiple alternate reality Bills and Teds, and they’re all absolute joys to watch.
This movie is a treat, and an absolutely essential time travel movie.
Bill and Ted Face the Music is currently streaming on Stan in Australia.
Gizmodo Movie Night is the fortnightly column where we recommend the best themed movies and TV shows currently streaming on the world wide web.
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