How do you ruin good science fiction? Easy, by overexplaining it. Loki Episode 6 walked a fine line between fun television and a lot of exposition, but Marvel risks ruining the entire thing by trying to cram in even more information with a questionable storytelling trick last seen in Star Wars: Episode IX.
Loki’s assigned reading
Immediately following the release of Loki Episode 6, multiple articles were published on Marvel.com, delving into the season finale using interviews with the cast and crew. There’s nothing wrong with this inherently, but when you take a closer look at the content of these blog posts, a pattern starts to emerge.
Each of Marvel’s Loki articles reveals details that were completely absent from the episodes themselves. Considering the timing of their publication, it’s almost like the studio is using its own blog to fill in some important blind spots the show couldn’t cover. It’s a bit like Marvel giving fans extra homework after the episode is over if they want to truly understand what happened.
For example, an article about Judge Ravonna Renslayer featuring quotes from actor Gugu Mbatha-Raw reveals her state of mind at the end of Loki Season 1.
“She's [thinking], ‘Peace out. Bye. Free will!’” Mbatha-Raw says.
Loki head writer Michael Waldron adds that Renslayer “wants to [find] who pulled the wool over her eyes. That's what she's going to go out in search of.”
You might have guessed this was her plan, but it was never specified on the show. You’d need to read an article on Marvel.com to know for sure.
Another blog from Marvel goes even further, revealing details about Jonathan Majors’ new character that you likely never would have guessed. For one thing, while He Who Remains might not be Kang the Conqueror, the statue at the very end of Episode 6 actually is. The article states:
Mortified, Loki looks to the Time Keepers statue area and finds the statues are no longer there. In its place is a single statue of the face of the man he just met at the end of time in a futuristic suit— the variant He Who Remains warned them about—Kang.
In the same article, production designer Kasra Farahani dives into the details of the Citadel at the End of Time, which apparently features one room that functions as a giant clock. He also notes that the room where much of the episode takes place is filled with books about “chronology, orology, the study of time, the study of clocks... different worlds’ cultures, and their philosophies on these topics.”
Again, that’s interesting info that you almost certainly didn’t pick up from watching the episode. And this isn’t the first time Disney’s used a similar trick to deliver missing details.
Star Wars: Revenge of the Novelization
After Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker premiered, fans were left with plenty of questions. But it wasn’t until months later that we finally got answers with the release of the movie’s novelization and a “visual dictionary.”
The Rise of Skywalker: Expanded Edition infamously confirmed that Rey’s father wasn’t technically Palpatine’s son; he was a defective Palpatine clone. The same book also confirmed once and for all that Finn is force sensitive. Here’s the passage from the book:
The moment Rey came back to herself, Finn knew. He launched himself out of the turret seat – no one was pursuing them anyway — climbed the ladder and sprinted for the cockpit. "Chewie, I felt her!"
The same novelization even confirmed a far-out fan theory that when Rey speaks to the other Jedi at the end of The Rise of Skywalker, she’s reaching out to them through something called the World Between Worlds (a mysterious place where time travel is possible, only seen in the animated Star Wars show Rebels.)
Separately, the movie’s official Visual Dictionary revealed even more missing info, including that Kylo Ren’s opening scene takes place on Mustafar (the planet where Anakin Skywalker fought Obi-Wan Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith).
None of that’s in the movie, but once you know it, the scene is much more interesting. Here’s the key passage:
Kylo soon outpaces his stormtrooper escorts as he cuts a swath of destruction through the Alazmec who attempt to block his path to Vader’s castle — or rather, its crumbling ruins. Kylo enters the castle grounds with purpose and finds an ark containing an artifact that will lead him to answers.
That changes a lot! So why wasn’t Vader’s castle in the actual movie? The answer is part of a bigger problem with how Disney seems intent on telling its most ambitious sci-fi stories.
The problem with Loki
There’s nothing inherently bad about most of this extra information. It all depends on context. For Star Wars fans, it was cool to find out that Kylo had been on Mustafar, but it was annoying to keep hearing more about Palpatine clones.
The problem isn’t the message; it’s the medium. If Star Wars and Marvel have a key detail to share about the plot of a story, it’s important to do that in the actual story — not in an article or book that only super-fans will ever read.
How hard would it have been to give Ravonna Renslayer one extra line of dialogue? Or to zoom in on the library in the Citadel at the End of Time for a couple of seconds? Or to actually explain why Palpatine was alive in The Rise of Skywalker? The answer seems obvious, but Disney keeps getting it wrong.
Hopefully, Loki will be the exception to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Then again, don’t be surprised if we wind up reading copies of Loki Season 1: Expanded Edition a few months from now only to learn that Mobius actually did get to ride that jet ski; it just happened off-screen.
Loki and Rise of Skywalker are both streaming on Disney+.