With Secret Invasion as the MCU’s most recent TV series, and The Marvels set as the closest upcoming Marvel movie, that means it’s finally time to enjoy Loki Season 2! Well, not right at this second, but Tom Hiddleston’s return to this particular version of the trickster god is imminent, and we can’t wait to see where the story goes after the wild Season 1 ending. And what better way to get in the mood for more time-jaunting chaos on Disney+ than by looking back at some of the awesome behind-the-scenes details that made Season 1 such a standout slide of the MCU.
Grab your Loki-branded McDonald’s meal, or a Miss Minutes donut if there’s one handy, and join us in looking back at the TVA-approved past for some BTS factoids that may have slipped under the radar. And there’s no better place to start than with the amphibian iteration of Thor himself.
Chris Hemsworth Secretly Provided The Voicework For Throg, Who Had A Deleted Fight Scene
Loki’s fifth episode, which took place largely amidst the reference-filled setting dubbed The Void, featured a heavily celebrated moment that highlighted the jarred-up and buried Frog of Thunder known affectionately to fans as Throg. The CGI character appeared fleetingly, as fans saw him hopping about in angst with the mighty Mjolnir just out of his reach. One cool fact about that scene is that the sounds the character made were recorded by Thor star himself Chris Hemsworth.
At the time, Season 1 staff writer Eric Martin (who took over head writing duties for Season 2) revealed a deleted scene was half-produced that featured Loki getting decked in the face by Frog Thor’s hammer, but it was scrapped for time. And that half-animated Time Theater segment is no longer the stuff of legend, as the official Loki Season 1 Blu-ray released in late September featured the A+ Frog Thor moment as a deleted scene extra!
David Fincher’s Se7en Was A Big Influence Early On
While a time-traveling, multiversal, superhero-tinged series like Loki may not outwardly share a whole lot with the endlessly grim and gritty world of David Fincher’s Se7en, there may be more beneath the surface than expected. Upon watching the Season 1 finale, for example, I was particularly taken with the episode’s hairpin spin with the introduction of Jonathan Majors’ He Who Remains, as his early appearance and “the endgame has already been set” perspective were similar to all things John Doe in the 1995 film. When CinemaBlend spoke with director Kate Herron, I asked if the Se7en vibes were intentional, and she said she didn’t think they were, but that the Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman hit was indeed a point of inspiration early on. Here’s how she put it:
It's so weird, right? Because for me, Se7en was such an influence early on in the show. And it's weird, like with He Who Remains, we always knew they were going to meet He Who Remains and that the Multiverse is going to be freed. But how that happened, we were always looking at it and working [it] out. And like, I don't know whether maybe it was just like me in my mind, and the writers' minds, and it just found its way into that situation. [Laughs.] For me. I don't think it was a conscious reference, but I think it was just so in the DNA of the show, I mean, it has to have been.
I kinda like thinking that there are David Mills variants out there in the multiverse that were able to reach a happier ending than what actually played out in the movie. Like, maybe there’s an Alligator Mills who eats John Doe.
Many Of Loki’s Massive Sets Were Actually Constructed In Real Life
At a time when various Star Wars projects have shown off the positive and negative qualities of filming in the digital playground known as The Volume, Loki definitely deserves applause and credit for actually creating several of the massive sets on display throughout the first season. Obviously that includes interiors like the TVA offices and hallways, but also applies to many of the exteriors, from the doomed planet Lamentis-1 to the varied locations that made up the Void. Even when there was a little trickery involved, it didn’t take away from the sets being a place where the actors could live and breathe. When I spoke with Season 1 production designer Kasra Farahani, he confirmed that details like the giant stone heads were practical set dec, and explained how they filmed that episode in the moors of England. In his words:
We built a chunk of this on stage, and if I remember correctly, it's in the area of like a 150ftx200ft space of terrain that we built. Then we brought in different elements to make it feel like different parts of The Void. So for example, the bus stop that he arrives on was one set-up. The giant heads were another set-up. The drive-in movie theater, where Sylvie wakes up, is another set. There's a total of seven or so different set-ups; we shot this over seven days. So that was all built, and then of course the barber shop was another one. We built that barber shop on that same terrain. And finally, the Loki Palace, which was another set entirely, but that was entirely built as a full 360-degree environment; no set extension in that.
One can only hope that the team could somehow up the ante in Season 2, although I don't imagine any MCU sequence in the future will be quite like The Voice. But also, check out this this video extra from the Blu-ray that details some of the work that went into bringing Lamentis-1 to life.
Starship Troopers Heavily Inspired The Live-Action TVA
Though the TVA is a dense and highly intriguing government organization that largely stands apart from anything else on TV, the unclear motivations behind the group were partly inspired by one of the more polarizing blockbusters of the modern era, Starship Troopers. Paul Verhoeven's deadpanned and hyper-violent sci-fi satire was initially misconstrued by audiences, but has since gained appreciation from those who grasped the undercurrent of the filmmaker's efforts. Director Kate Herron explained to CinemaBlend that Starship Troopers (originally a 1959 novel from sci-fi master Robert A. Heinlein) was a big influence on how she viewed the TVA and those who do its bidding.
One of my references, for example, was Starship Troopers. Most in the TVA are villains, but they don't necessarily realize that they are, or what they could be doing. And it's also like, are they villains? Are they not? I mean that's the whole question across the whole show, right? . . . But I think that's kind of the fun of the TVA, having these little [hints]. I mean, people picked up on them, but like the 1984 aspects of our posters, and as you said, the kind of propaganda-style video. And I think that definitely, it's good for people to question, but again, I think as it unfolds, people can see what is true and what's not true. And then beyond that, where they fall on 'is the TVA good or are they bad, or are they more gray area?' Yeah, I think that kind of falls into the whole meaning of the show.
It's easy to see how Starship Troopers would be a stepping stone to get to the TVA, as its militant higher-ups offer up the same kind of "Our way is the best and only way," while employing countless people who are basically brainwashed into taking orders at face value without questioning the intent.
Kang Wasn’t Originally Meant To Be The MCU’s Main Antagonist For The Multiverse Saga
Whenever Loki Season 1 was coming together, with the idea that it would cap off with an appearance from Lovecraft Country's Jonathan Majors as not-quite-Kang the Conquerer, there reportedly weren't any solidified plans in place to vault the actor to an overarching role across the bulk of the Multiverse Saga's phases. After Kevin Feige and other Marvel Studios execs saw what he brought to both the Loki finale and to his scenes filmed for Quantumania, only then were the decisions made to flesh out the villain's impact to make it as widespread as possible. A decision whose fallout remains to be witnessed in full, following Majors' legal issues and abuse allegations, with an impeding trial on the way. On an episode of the podcast The Big Picture, author of the upcoming book MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios Joanna Robinson shared the following insights from her behind-the-scenes conversations:
I was told by someone who works for Marvel, it was not the plan to make Kang the center of everything until they saw the dailies from Quantumania and after his performance in Loki, which was so strong they were like, 'This is it. This is our way forward. We’ve lost our varsity hero team, but let’s set up around this guy Kang and this performer that so many people are reacting to.' We know this is a huge problem for them that they are facing and grappling with right now. And what’s unprecedented in this for Marvel is, I would argue they have never hung so much of a franchise on one actor. . . . I would argue more than Downey as Iron Man, more than Brolin as Thanos, that hanging everything on this guy is then going to pop up in all of their properties leading up to something called The Kang Dynasty has put them in a very unusual position.
Barring some kind of Sliding Doors effect (involving Pepper Potts herself), fans probably won't ever know what the MCU's Phase 5 and Phase 6 would have been like without Kang as the antagonistic ringleader behind it all. And only time will tell whether Feige & Co. continue moving forward with their previously stated strategy, or if there's a back-up plan in the works.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw Approached Ravonna And Mobius’ Relationship Like James Bond And M
We've obviously already talked about how various pop culture phenomenons were influential to the look, feel, and plotting of Loki's first season. And when Gugu Mbatha-Raw spoke with CinemaBlend about the unique relationship between her TVA official Ravonna Renslayer and Owen Wilson's Mobius, she shared that she viewed that pairing as one similar to James Bond and M. Here's how she put it:
Personally I always looked at it as a sort of version of the M/Bond dynamic, with me being M and Mobius being Bond, this sort of rascally agent that just is a bit maverick. And my character sort of appreciates him for the fact that he takes off on these maverick challenges, but also kind of has to have him toe the line as well.
I think we can all agree Mobius is on another plane entirely from James Bond, but he certainly does feature both the integrity and the occasionally rapscallion nature that the secret agent exudes. Albeit more in earlier films over the Daniel Craig era, but still. His Bond and Dame Judi Dench's M are for the ages.
Turns Out Owen Wilson Doesn’t Like Jet Skis As Much As Mobius Does
After watching Season 1, arguably the biggest takeaway that fans got from Mobius' arc is that the dude has a very precise affection for Jet Skis, as well as the act of going out on the water and putting them to use. What fans may not know, however, is that the actor playing Mobius does not share that appreciation. When we spoke with Owen Wilson, he offered up a less joyful take on Jet Skis, saying:
I can't say that I'm the biggest fan of Jet Skis... Yeah, it was just pure acting. I put them... they kind of remind me of aquatic leaf blowers, which I'm not the biggest fan of either.
So any Loki fans out there who see someone on a Jet Ski that maybe happens to look like Owen Wilson, you can probably bet on it more likely being a person named Mobius, and not the actor himself.
With each of these facts in mind, hopefully the wait for Loki Season 2 will pass as quickly as possible, as the premiere is set to stream with a Disney+ subscription on Thursday, October 5, at 9:00 p.m. ET.