How 'Loki' and 'Interstellar' Tell Very Similar Tales (But From Different Generations)
***SPOILER WARNING FOR LOKI SEASON 1***
Loki, which just wrapped up its first season in grand/weird fashion on Disney+, is just one piece of the slate of Marvel programming that had the promise of being something new and different from what became a pretty formulaic style of filmmaking over the last decade.
And while WandaVision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier delivered good quality with mixed results as far as "new and different" is concerned, from a plot and theme perspective, Loki has them soundly beaten. It draws from things like Rick and Morty's multiverse jumping protagonists, the retrofuturist aesthetic like something out of the Fallout games, and still has enough big action setpieces balanced with levity and heart to give you that pure Marvel feel. However, something that slipped notice is just how much it has in common with Christopher Nolan's McConaughey-est film (until he agrees to film our script for Mattception), Interstellar.
From the purely superficial perspective, both feature planet-hopping adventures, epic musical scores with ticking clock themes, mysterious and secretive agencies that exist for the good of everyone, and climaxes that take our heroes beyond known time and space. Each approaches these things differently, of course, Interstellar is mostly hard sci-fi while Loki embraces the fantasy that's allotted to a Marvel property, but they are both driven by a fear of what the unknown future holds and the idea that we might be running out of time before it gets here.
That theme and the plots surrounding it are both also handled much differently by their respective creative teams, and that's because they're from different generations.
Our Protagonists: First, we have Cooper from Interstellar, a former NASA test-pilot that gave up on his space dreams to become a farmer because in the future different kinds of blight kill off so many of our crops that we've resorted to a mostly corn diet which brings up some poop questions that Nolan chooses not to address for some reason.
Next, we have Loki, the bastard child of a dynasty of gods that he never really fit into. He, in fact, does such a bad job of fitting in that he becomes orphaned from his entire reality. Now you may recognize that a formerly extreme dude that sold out his dreams to take care of his kids vs. a weird outcast in the middle of an identity crisis as pretty on-the-nose avatars for Gen Xers and Millennials, respectively. (But that's only because I pointed it out to you! Give me credit, damn you!)
Mysterious and Powerful Agencies: In Interstellar Secret NASA, aka SNASA, is a benevolent agency that's been siphoning money from the government for years because, in the words of Anne Hathaway's character Brand, "We're not meant to save the world. We're meant to leave it," which honestly sounds like every shitty CEO that's going to space's justification for not cutting their carbon footprint while they blast rocket fuel into the high atmosphere (but more on that later).
However, Loki's TVA is a much more clearly evil and fascistic agency, controlled by an old and powerful entity that got there by conquering his fellow variants, destroying countless people, and even entire timelines for simply existing outside of their predetermined path. The difference in how much each generation tends to trust the government's secret activities is perhaps best encapsulated by someone like Stephen Colbert's attitude toward Donald Rumsfeld, "I don't think anybody made up the belief that there were weapons of mass destruction. That is cynicism beyond what I would ever want to think of my government," vs. Millennial Twitter's response to Rumsfeld's death being generally, "Burn in hell war criminal."
Handling the Problem of Time and The Unknown: In Interstellar, we're forced to leave earth, not because we poisoned it, but because the planet has basically started rejecting us. For Cooper, the biggest problem with time is that space and gravity are just so darn tricky on his mission to save humanity that he misses every chance he would've had to see his kids grow up, and wouldn't you know it, by the time he gets back Murph is already in hospice care. So *McConaughey Voice* "Love is the fifth dimension," and the only thing your kid really got to have was your ghost, but that's ok because you helped us figure out how to leave that shitty planet behind for cool spaceships, and now you have to go help Anne Hathaway start a colony with a bunch of old frozen eggs and cum.
In Loki, though, Sylvie's character has lived her entire life in the shadow of impending apocalypses, even one specifically caused by climate change. Which has completely altered her outlook from a Loki who was shielded from the terrors of the universe by his powerful and wealthy family. And that's why they come to blows in the finale because even with the choice of either killing our predecessors or inheriting/using their corrupt system, we still don't know what the future holds. We might be at a point where neither our rage nor our love will save us, but we know for sure that if we turn on each other, we'll always be orphans.
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Top Image: Marvel Studios, Paramount Pictures