Kate Herron on ‘Loki’ Season 2 Finale and Handover
If she could turn back time, there’s not much Loki director Kate Herron would do it differently. She turned a beloved secondary character into a protagonist. She blessed Marvel fans with their first canonically bisexual character. And she introduced the multiverse, drafting perhaps one of the biggest cliffhanger revealed since the end of Avengers: Infinity War. In other words, Herron Loki was a huge deal, even by Marvel’s increasingly oversized standards.
Still, it’s not easy for the director, who is also known for her work on Sex education, to pass the reins. Herron revealed to the press that she has no plans to return for Loki season 2, preferring to leave the chaos of the multiverse to the whims of another. Marvel keeps growing and she has other characters to conquer. But the MCU will continue to feel its impact for years to come, should the studio’s Phase 4 become a Phase 5, 6, 7, and 8.
After Loki The Season 1 Capital Finale – in which Jonathan Majors first appears as a variant of Kang the Conqueror, named The One Who Remains – ELLE.com took some time with Herron to learn what happened in a so carefully crafted revelation. And the director took a few moments to say goodbye to him.
When you first signed up for this show, did you have a solid understanding of how important this would end up for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
I knew from day one. I think we’ve always flattened the story in the sense that we wanted to get there in the best way. But it was still the intention that they meet the One Who Remains in the end and the multiverse would be born. So I knew this huge secret, yes, and I am very honored to have been able to participate in the launch of this part of the next phase.
How does Marvel’s larger plot structuring process work? Do you have the, uh, overlords breathing in you as you develop the story? Do you have point A to point B that you need to establish but the rest is up to you to orchestrate?
I would say [Marvel Studios president] Kevin Feige, his whole business is very collaborative. He has his plan and design of where he wants movies and TV shows to go with these characters, but it’s really a collaborative studio. And it’s usually, I think, always a ‘best idea wins’ case. No member of the creative team ever felt we were held back. On our show, we had a producer called Kevin Wright who was an executive at Marvel, and he was basically running the Marvel side of things and making sure that, yeah, we didn’t venture into places that we couldn’t, but he did. was also so key in the story too.
Before I ask you anything else, I need to know the story behind Alligator Loki.
[Laughs] It was from the writer’s room. The alligator had been there since day one. I think for me, as a director, the tightrope has always been, “Okay, well, we’ve got to give this alligator times where he could be.” [seen] as Loki ”, and most of the moments were actually like“ No, man, that’s an alligator. ”
I just thought it was so funny, and I loved it. And I also liked how [Richard E. Grant] played it – that’s how we talk to pets, like, “Oh, they feel like that,” and the owner would be like, “Well, no that’s not what they say.” It seemed very real.
Have you always been a fan of Loki’s character or has your love for him grown more recently?
I have always been a fan. This is how I got the job because I saw Tom [Hiddleston] in Thor, and I was like, “Oh, that’s such an interesting take on the character.” I was so excited about what Kevin Feige was doing with him in the MCU, and I think Tom’s performance brought such empathy, spirit and charisma to this incredible character. But at the same time, I loved the vulnerability and the pain. It was so exciting for me to watch him go from villain to anti-hero over the past 10 years. So when I found out they were doing a show on Loki, I was very determined to walk into the room for that, and they luckily met me and here I am. I would say I pursued him a lot as a Loki fan.
How much of Loki’s character development has come from you and Tom?
Something about Tom that has always been very important is that he knows Loki so well. He’s been playing it for 10 years. When we were filming the temporal theater in episode one, for example, me and him were talking about The Avengers– because he’s the god of New York, and he’s very different from where we take him to in episode six.
I have an “Emotions Bible” that I wrote when I was working on the show to help me know where the characters were at different points in the story. With Tom, for example, that speech he makes to Sylvie at the very end of the show? It was something we were working on until the day we filmed it. The line, “I just want you to be okay,” that comes from Tom. I love that the Loki we have at the end doesn’t want the throne, whereas in episode one he does.
Something I thought was cool and wanted to squeeze was: the first thing said to Loki on our show is, “Who are you? And we end on the same line also at the very end: “Who are you? And I think that’s kind of the big question for the whole series.
What was it like directing Jonathan Majors in what will likely be several, if not several, MCU appearances?
On the one hand, yes, as a fan I’m like, “Oh wow, that’s a big responsibility.” But I think the funny thing in [He Who Remains] to be a variant – which alleviates some pressure, not all the pressure, but some pressure – is that he’s a variant of his own kind, so he’s the One who stays. He’s not Kang.
Along with Jonathan, he’s one of the greatest actors. So I think for me it was just about giving him the space to play. He improvised a lot of lines around the wonderful script. Even in her Christine Wada clothes, I loved that you can’t necessarily place her outfit in time or in a specific culture because it is this character who has lived so many different lives. But also the clothes have a quality of pajamas because he lives at home. So I think in the hands of an actor like Jonathan it’s really fun figuring out where do we go big and where do we need to make it small and get the audience.
A big theme of the first season was, “What’s the right thing to do? Between two evils, which is the greatest? Did you want all of your characters to exist in this moral gray area?
Yeah, something that has always been important to me throughout the show was this idea of right and wrong and the gray area. For example, Mobius and Sylvie had this conversation in the car in episode five, and she says, “You chased me like a dog.” And he thought it was for the greater good. But he still did things that weren’t completely right, and I think that’s what’s essential for all of the characters. Renslayer when she removes Mobius? I didn’t want it to be like a “mean” period. Because it is not; he’s his friend, and [pruning him] is more complicated than that.
She has this amazing time with [Mobius] in episode six where she’s like, “You betrayed me.” And I totally agree with her! He betrayed their friendship and he sided with Loki, and when she makes those decisions, she thinks it’s for the sake of the sacred timeline. So I can’t wait to see where it goes.
It was fun to watch this show become a cultural talking point. As each episode dropped, there was usually something that caused a stir online. The big news of Loki and Sylvie and their variants being bisexual, was that something you knew would spark a huge backlash from fans?
It was important to recognize it because it’s grounded in the comics. Loki was written as a bi, he was also written as a pan, and I felt like it was a show about who he is, so let’s recognize him and make him canon. You can never predict how people are going to feel, but we figured there would likely be a discussion about it just because it’s a big time for him.
You announced that while the show is heading into a second season, you don’t intend to be involved. So, as you leave these characters in the hands of another, what are your hopes for them?
So there is a photo of Loki in episode six that was so important to me. It’s towards the end when [Sylvie has pushed him back through the TemPad portal] and we are pushing very slowly on him because he has had this amazing trip. He’s found someone he’s connected with and he’s heartbroken. But it was important to show that “Lokis still survives”, and so you have this moment where he comes together and thinks, No, I still have a fight. And I will fight.
So for me, I can’t wait to see, where is Loki? Where are they going to take him? We’ve done so much prep work on her character, I’m just excited because I feel like there’s so much more to explore about her identity.
And then all these other amazing characters that we have: Where’s Ravonna? Who is B-15? Where are Mobius and Sylvie? We leave her in the Citadel, and she looks shocked and full of pain, and she’s at a much earlier part of her journey. [than Loki] in terms of self-healing, so I think it’ll be really fun to see where she ends up going. I’m really proud to have been a part of Loki’s story. I gave everything in my heart and soul. I can’t wait to see what new eyes will bring.
Watch Loki on Disney +
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