After watching Disney+’s new documentary on the making of Marvel’s Loki, you’re gonna have a list of movies to watch. The behind-the-scenes episode, which is the latest in the Assembled series that’s already covered WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, is filled with fascinating facts and revelations about the time-bending show starring Tom Hiddleston. There’s historical context, plus info on the show’s design, production, and scope — and, yes, plenty of classic movies the creators drew inspiration from.
Since Loki is a show about time and timelines, it’s fitting that the documentary reveals the series’ timeline. Production on Loki began on February 10, 2020 at 8 a.m. local time and ended 299 days later. That’s 7,176 hours or 430,560 minutes of time the team had to worry about physical production. After editing, the result is six episodes equalling a total of 280 minutes and 17 seconds. That’s a lot of Loki considering in the previous 10 years, he’d been actually on screen in the MCU for less than two hours.
After the success of Marvel’s The Avengers, producer Kevin Feige suggested Tom Hiddleston go out on stage in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con, in full costume, to start Marvel’s panel in 2013. The moment has since become legend and, in the minds of Hiddleston and everyone at Marvel, it was that energy and reaction that propelled Loki to become an even more important character in the stories ahead.
The initial ideas
A show like Loki doesn’t become a success without creative people in charge. For Loki, two of the most important were lead writer Michael Waldron and director Kate Herron. Waldron revealed his initial pitch for the show was that while everyone was expecting Loki to go through time a la Quantum Leap, he wanted to do something completely different. Herron’s agent told her the meeting with Marvel was informal and to not prepare anything. She ignored that and prepared such an elaborate pitch, Marvel knew it had found the right person.
A deleted montage?
There’s a moment in the documentary that includes a shot of Waldron in front of a whiteboard with all sorts of information. In the middle is a list that includes what looks to be a montage that didn’t make the show — Loki actually acquiring the Infinity Gauntlet. There’s gotta be more too. (It takes place about 7:47 into the show if you’d like to zoom in yourself.)
The TVA revealed
In designing the Time Variance Authority headquarters, several things were considered. It was supposed to be tactile and grounded but also mindful of the company’s hierarchy, which goes from hunters (like B-15) to analysts (like Mobius) to judges (like Renslayer) and, of course, the Time Keepers. That’s why there are always levels to the building, low ceilings to keep people down, etc. Everything is on top of each other. And — movie alert — inspiration was drawn from other films with otherworldly, omnipotent groups like Defending Your Life, Brazil, and Beetlejuice.
B-15’s kill count
Though it might not be immediately obvious in the show, B-15 (played by Wunmi Mosaku) has a series of hash marks on her helmet. Those represent the number of people she’s killed or, in Loki terms, pruned.
Settling on the look of the doors the TVA uses to jump between timelines was difficult. They needed to have a timeless look that was neither too advanced nor too archaic. On the road to that discovery, about 150 designs were considered. Ultimately, inspiration was also drawn from the training sequences in David Lynch’s Dune.
Character through fighting style
Every character’s fighting style in Loki was created with the character in mind. For example, when Loki fights it’s more fluid and elegant because he grew up on Asgard and had training. Sylvie, though, is more raw and feral because she had to pick her skills up along the way as she lived hiding on the timeline.
Shuroo is the name of the town at the end of episode three, “Lamentis,” where Sylvie and Loki attempt to escape, but fail. Much of that action was planned to be presented in a single take which meant a few things. First, planning on the scene took way longer than others — about a year. In that time it was decided the only way to fully film an elaborate shot as planned was to build the entire city in 360 degrees, which happened on the backlot of the studio in Atlanta, GA. Hiddleston said it was one of the most elaborate sets he’d ever been on and probably the biggest he’d ever been on in the MCU. Oh, and though the shot looks like a single take, it consists of about eight shots strung together.
A familiar-looking Void
The idea for the void planet in episode five, “Journey into Mystery,” was wholly from the mind of Herron. She wanted a drab, desolate-looking place. But when she got to the constructed set she joked that she basically pitched her home of England — a sentiment she said many English members of the crew agreed with.
The Assembled documentary spends a bit of time with some of the important variants Loki encounters in the Void. For Classic Loki, Richard E. Grant was the first and only choice — his face was even used in concept art. Deobia Oparei, who played Boastful Loki, said his role didn’t take much acting because the costume did most of the work. As for Alligator Loki, much has already been discussed, but here it’s revealed lots of the references for him came from an actual support alligator the team at ILM found named Wally. Watch a clip here. (Oddly, there’s no mention of Kid Loki played by Jack Veal.)
Alioth, the killer storm that devours all in the Void, had a few inspirations. Nature of course. Thermal lightning, volcanic eruptions, but also Jaws. Herron wanted to tease him for as long as possible until the full reveal, just like in Jaws.
He Who Remains references
Everything about He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors), and the citadel he resides in, was inspired by a movie. The building itself was supposed to feel like Grey Gardens or Sunset Boulevard — films with large, lonely spaces for characters to live. For the character himself, it went even beyond that. The Wizard of Oz, of course, but also Citizen Kane, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and, again, Sunset Boulevard. Also, every piece of his wardrobe is from a different era of time, teasing how long he’s been around.
The future is now
Though viewers have assumed it, and the creatives have said it in interviews, this documentary confirms a few things. One, that Sylvie and Loki’s actions here do “flower” the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Two, that the variant that He Who Remains is most afraid of is the famous villain, Kang.