Like the real universe, the Marvel Cinematic one seemingly has no end. Out of the cosmic afterglow of 2019’s big-bang Avengers: Endgame came the strikingly original WandaVision (an experimental play on the sitcom genre starring Elizabeth Olsen) and the more conventional The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (two of Captain America’s companions take on a terrorist organisation). Now there’s a third spin-off, which brings back Loki – or at least a version of Thor’s deviant adopted brother – played by Tom Hiddleston.
The show, created by Michael Waldron – known for his work on the hit series Rick and Morty – centres on a character who represents chaos in a world ruled by a rigid and bureaucratic organisation, the Time Variance Authority (TVA). This powerful group works behind the scenes to ensure that time is a polished, straight line from creation to the end of time, known as the Sacred Timeline. Unlike the premise used in classic films such as Back to the Future or the Terminator saga, where the plot revolves around the mess caused by the consequences of time travel and its paradoxes, this has the TVA sending its Minutemen to prune the creation of any parallel reality by literally nuking the newborn variant world.
In case you’re wondering, this isn’t the Loki we saw killed by Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War but a Loki variant who was created when the supervillain grabbed the portal-creating Tesseract artifact and escaped from custody in 2012’s The Avengers.
Co-starring alongside Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson plays TVA agent Mobius M Mobius, who is supervising Loki after he is detained to help track down another mysterious Loki variant. The chemistry between the two leads works well, and they dive into the backstory of the central character, who is shown his past misdeeds on a screen.
Loki provides a bridge between the two storylines of the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movies Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023), and it’s likely to come back for a second season.
ATLANTA, GEORGIA, USA
The key on-screen setting for much of this first season of Loki is the Time Variance Authority offices. The production was headquartered at Pinewood Atlanta Studios, now known as Trilith Studios in Fayetteville, Georgia. Marvel Studios also recorded large sections of WandaVision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier on these premises.
The bureaucratic entity is rendered in a stylised set design, with a colour palette and symmetry that seems to have come out of a Wes Anderson movie. Director Kate Herron said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that the series was inspired by several productions, including the corporate world of Mad Men and the crazy technocrats at Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. The statues, the propaganda on the walls and the mosaic-style images of the courtroom have a distinctly Soviet flair. As Atlas of Wonders points out, it seems clear that production designer Kasra Farahani also took inspiration from the Buzludzha Monument. Unveiled in 1981, it is a massive brutalist-style colosseum, now in the process of restoration, built at the top of a remote mountain in the Bulgarian Balkans.
The interior hall of the TVA archives was filmed on location at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. This 53-storey hotel, completed in 1985, has a magnificent central atrium, once the biggest in the world, which was CGI’d with the enormous statues of the three Time-Keepers. It also featured in the trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming.
In Episode 1, there’s a scene where Mobius travels to a medieval church in Aix-en-Provence, France. This location, which also appeared in the third season of Ozark, is actually the gorgeous interior of the Westview Abbey at the Westview Cemetery’s mausoleum of Atlanta. The 1985 Renaissance Faire was filmed at the Georgia Renaissance Festival grounds in Fairburn. And according to Atlanta Magazine, the North DeKalb Mall in Decatur doubled as the Roxxcart superstore in the year 2050 – the mall can also be seen in the new Netflix slasher-movie series Fear Street. A rock quarry near Loganville served to shoot the exterior scenes on the apocalyptic planet Lamentis-1 from Episode 3 of Loki.
GEORGIA ON OUR MIND
Since a generous tax incentive programme for film productions was launched in Georgia in 2008, the Peach State has become a southern outpost of Hollywood, hosting various major feature films and TV shows such as The Walking Dead and Baby Driver. Los Angeles and New York have a very distinctive look, but Atlanta and Georgia could be almost anywhere, from a small town in the midwest for Stranger Things to the futuristic architecture and green forests of The Hunger Games trilogy.
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