A few weeks ago we opined about the potential of a Loki solo movie, wondering if the people at Marvel felt the same way as Tom Hiddleston’s many eager fans. Surprise -- they do! While not exactly a hard word on a Loki-led film, the groundwork is certainly being laid down by an all-new monthly Marvel comic titled Loki: Agent of Asgard. The trickster god will be the protagonist in the series, which reenvisions him as Asgard’s ultimate protector while Thor plays superhero on Midgard (Earth).
For those wondering how a god of mischief can work in a more heroic light, writer Al Ewing told Marvel.com that he’s not throwing out Loki’s established characterization. “He’s not told what to do exactly; he’s given an objective and left to accomplish it in his own way," says Ewing. "There may be a larger plan at work that he’s being asked to follow, but then Loki always has his own plans going on. And plans within those plans.” In the 2014 series, Loki will answer to the All-Mother, and his first issue will see him in conflict with the core Avengers from the film (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hulk and Hawkeye), obviously hoping to attract the film’s fans into reading a monthly comic starring a character they seem to love. Ewing describes the move as “shameless, shameless, shameless.”
They even acknowledge Hiddleston’s popularity in his career-making role as creative inspiration for the new book. Ewing said he kept Hiddleston in mind while writing Loki, and artist Lee Garbett elaborated, “Tom Hiddleston's performance is so nuanced and attractively flawed it'd be crazy to not try and add that to the mix and I've definitely got his performance in mind when drawing him but at the same time I don't want it to be too restricted by likenesses, etc.; it's more the vibe I'm after. That magnetism and dark charm. Those are the touchstones. That and keeping him sexy.” That’s something that Tumblr will be glad to hear. The series will bow in early 2014.
Loki: Agent of Asgard was just one of Marvel’s big Avengers-related announcements at New York Comic Con this year. Avengers World, a book featuring a globally focused Avengers team; Avengers Undercover, with the teen stars of Avengers Arena going deep cover in the villain group the Masters of Evil; and Secret Avengers, the covert-ops “secret agent” Avengers book, will all see new first issues in 2014. Black Widow will also be getting her own solo series in the upcoming year, with a focus on espionage over superheroism. That’s a lot for Avengers fans to look forward to, and, if Guardians of the Galaxy is any indication, you never know when the next Marvel IP will end up the next Marvel film.
Catching Up with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
I’ve seen a few lists this week on how to improve Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and I have to say -- three episodes in and I’m far from hooked. All shows having growing pains, but since this was spinning off of a series of films, from experienced TV creators like the Whedon Brothers, I think we all expected can’t-miss experience. Instead, S.H.I.E.L.D. is relatively low stakes, with precious, snarky dialogue and a cast of mercurial characters. Some less kind would call the cast of rookie agents cyphers. In the third episode, witheringly sarcastic Skye slows down some techno babble, citing that she’s a high school drop out, yet she’s also supposed to be a high-tech computer genius. Which is it? Couldn’t they have had Skye ask to explain the science in layman’s terms without citing herself as uneducated? Do we still wholly believe she’s techno smart when she tells us she’s ignorant? In the same episode, man-meat Agent Ward mumbles his character’s defining moment as a youth (punished by an older brother for sneaking some birthday cake ) with all the conviction of a wet rag. The cake bit was weak and the delivery was openly reluctant of the writing. This kind of scripting undermines whatever character work they’re trying to do here.
Clark Gregg’s Coulson and Ming Na Wen’s Agent May continue to be standouts simply through quiet strength and underplayed determination. I don’t expect every character to behave like them, though I do want to see the other members of the ensemble perform with their conviction of character. Glibness seems to be the name of the game with S.H.I.E.L.D., so if that’s what they’re aiming for, then they’ve hit the bull's-eye. I’d prefer something that’s fun without being weirdly dismissive of the fact that they’re all supposed to be incredibly talented secret agents.
Tone down Skye’s eye-rolling quips for every situation. Put the whole team in uniforms when they’re on a mission (still unsure why Agent May is the only person who wears a S.H.I.E.L.D. uniform). I appreciate that there’s a new family-friendly action series on television, but family friendly doesn’t mean it can’t have a little more punch. Right now, it’s Marvel’s version of TV’s A-Team -- dopey, quick, one-off, low-rent adventures that see a ragtag unit of conflicting personalities dropping in to save the day, then loving it when their plan comes together. While there’s still time for the show to grow and change, my frustration is that this is exactly what the show wants to be -- there’s no reason to change. If that’s the case, it’s just not the show for me.
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