“You weren’t born to be king, Loki. You were born to cause pain and suffering and death. That’s how it is, that’s how it was, that’s how it will be. All so that others can achieve the best versions of themselves.”― Mobius M. Mobius
A high ranking analyst/investigator with the Time Variance Authority (TVA) with a yearning for jet skis, Agent Mobius M. Mobius is the best newest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). He is the Yin to Loki’s Yang and the chocolate to Loki’s peanut butter. His presence in Loki (the series) pushes Loki to a new place of both humility and trust.
At the start of the fourth episode of Loki, all I could say was “thank goodness Mobius is back” (followed twenty minutes later by “nooooooo”)! Ok, that’s as close as I’ll come to giving a spoiler.
Why was I so excited to see Mobius back for episode four? Well, having watched all four episodes (so far) of the six-episode season, I can say without a doubt that the three episodes including Mobius were far more entertaining than the one episode without him.
Is Mobius a compelling character? I think so, though not in any over-the-top personality sort of way. Is he important to the MCU? He certainly seems to be, given his position with the TVA. Will Mobius persist in the MCU after this season of Loki? That’s highly uncertain (to take inspiration from my Magic 8-Ball).
My reason for valuing Mobius has very little to do with Mobius himself, or the fact that Owen Wilson is playing him (though Wilson does this brilliantly). It has almost everything to do with the character of Loki. Not necessarily his personality, but his type (or rank?) of character.
The God of Mischief
Looking back through Loki’s appearances in the MCU, we find several common threads.
First – Loki is never the main character in the stories he’s appeared in. He’s always been a supporting character. That is in no way a knock on Loki as a character, or on Tom Hiddleston as an actor. This is just the type of character Loki’s always been in the MCU.
Second – and perhaps more importantly – Loki’s character type is such that he is most effective, entertaining, and compelling when being the counterpart to another major character. Loki so often steals the scene he’s in, but it’s only because he’s able to lift off from his counter foe in the scene.
Third – Loki is always at his best when he is intellectually challenging the capabilities of his foes. He will regularly channel the wisdom of the world’s greatest philosophers, and then cut it down without a second thought. Plus, he can lay down an insult with the best of them.
Let’s diagnose. Loki is introduced to the MCU as Thor’s brother. The relationship between the two is such that Thor’s serious demeanor and formality is a perfect counterbalance to Loki’s mischief, jealousy, and sneakiness. Thor – the God of Thunder – is the battery that powers Loki’s witty flashlight. This is where the groundwork was laid for Loki’s repeated performances as the self-proclaimed “God of Mischief.”
Loki took his personality to new heights in The Avengers, where he not only had Thor to play with, but all of the Avengers (including Nick Fury). Loki’s brilliant game of mental chess in this film cemented his status as a compelling villain. He was able to reach this height through the lift provided by several other characters.
In other words – Loki is always at his best when paired with another major character (or multiple major characters). He’s great on his own, but he really shines when he’s pivoting against a foe (or friend, or brother).
How about a few other Marvel baddies? Red Skull? Boring. Ronan? (Snooze). Thanos? Meh. For the most part, these are relatively shallow bad guys. What does Loki bring to the table? Uncertainty, conflict, humor, and charming imperfection. These traits combine for a well-rounded villain who became a long-standing fan favorite (and led to widespread horror when he met his end at the left hand of Thanos.
Why Loki Needs Mobius?
What makes Mobius so valuable as a character is how he lifts Loki. Mobius knows Loki better than Loki knows himself, and Mobius calls him out on it. Every. Single. Time. He’s relentless. He doesn’t give Loki an inch, and calls him out on every play. Mobius is the only character in the MCU who I feel can match Loki in his own game of mental chess. To add to that – Owen Wilson plays Mobius with a certain folksiness and charm that I adore. He projects a familiarity and comfort that makes me want to have lunch with him.
In the first two episodes of Loki, both Mobius and Loki battled almost non-stop in their war of wits. The conversations and verbal spats between the two are electric. There is a chemistry between Loki and Mobius that may prove greater than that which Loki shares with his brother.
In episode three, Loki and Mobius were separated. And what happened? The energy, the entertainment, and the intrigue all plummeted. All in all, the episode advanced the storyline. Loki did achieve a certain degree of mental and emotional jousting with his variant alter-ego Sylvie, but I must admit I enjoyed this episode far less than the first two. Jumping forward to episode four, Mobius and Loki reunited and immediately resparked that same kinetic connection that was sorely missing in the previous installment.
Without giving a direct spoiler, I will admit that I’m plenty concerned about the remaining two episodes of the series, considering Loki and Mobius may not interact again. Loki – the series – has proven to me that Loki – the character – is strong enough to play the leading role. But Loki, as a leading role, needs an intellectual counterbalance in order to reach his greatest, most mischievous heights. Mobius is just the right elixir.
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