Loki: How The TVA Was Partially Inspired By A Coen Brothers Classic

Mild spoilers below for Loki's first two episodes, so be warned if you don't want to know anything before watching.

Much like Marvel's first big TV series WandaVision was an inspired amalgamation of a multitude of classic TV sitcoms, Tom Hiddleston's Loki features lots of lovingly crafted homages to the world of science fiction. Considering the main storyline involves time travel aberrations and a mysterious organization of timekeepers, the genre self-awareness is right on point throughout the episodes released so far. But as Loki director Kate Herron revealed exclusively to CinemaBlend, the Coen Brothers cult classic The Hudsucker Proxy also played a big non-sci-fi influence on how the TVA was conceived.

Loki's Time Variance Authority initially seems like an all-powerful, no-nonsense faction that guards the "sacred" timeline with an iron fist, it quickly becomes aware that the shadowy organization and its physical-esque headquarters are really just gussied-up extensions of office building drudgery. (To the point where I wouldn't be surprised if the TVA bought out the tech company Initech from Office Space.) Kate Herron mentioned how film noir and detective stories played into influencing the aesthetic, which is a subgenre Ethan and Joel Coen know extremely well. So it made perfect sense when she later namechecked the Tim Robbins-starring Hudsucker Proxy as another influence. In her words:

I was really excited in creating the TVA and just kind of the bureaucracy within it. A reference, actually, that I have never said before is Hudsucker Proxy in terms of the hierarchy, because obviously the TVA does have a very clear hierarchy. So I would often think about that, actually, with even just the floors of the TVA and how this building, even though it obviously goes on into infinity, like how this kind of massive living office space functioned.

Though Owen Wilson's Mobius seems professional and capable enough of getting shit done when need be (unless the shit in question is telling Loki the truth about Phil Coulson), the TVA in and of itself quickly exudes a sense of endless middle-management representatives going all the way up the supervisor ladder. And while there are clearly many differences between Loki's outside-of-reality bureaucracy and the Hudsucker Industries in the Coen brothers' film, the connective tissue is definitely on display.

On the same side of the satirical office-oriented coin is Terry Gilliam's Brazil, which also served as an inspiration for Loki's Kate Herron. As seen in the video above, she definitely namechecked that classic satire alongside others, also explaining that she also wanted the TVA to have all the mundanity of a real-world office.

Beyond [film noir], I just wanted it to be like a kind of big love letter to sci-fi so, I spoke about before, but like Brazil, Metropolis, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I was drawing from loads of places, like our time doors are inspired by Dune, and the computers in the TVA, the text on those is a bit more like Alien. I kind of pulled from a lot of places and I liked the idea of the TVA having this kind of retro-futuristic technology because I've also worked in a lot of offices, and often the technology is not updated, and it is in need of an update. I thought, for me, that was really fun and exciting. Like, even the weaponry they have in some ways looks dated and basic, but then you actually see it in action and it's like, 'Oh no, they're very powerful, and not to be reckoned with.' And I think that was really exciting, and also just, I wanted someone on Earth, obviously, who worked in an office to be able to watch it and see things within the TVA that felt familiar to them like, oh yeah, I do recognize signs that are like 'Keep Your Desk Clean,' or those awful little paper foam cups that you sometimes have to drink from. I think for an office doesn't ever stop or sleep, that it felt messy and it felt lived in and real.

I think all Coen brothers' fans will know what's coming if one of Loki's many variants winds up having a wood chipper on hand, especially if it's William H. Macy playing the variant. (Speaking of, Kate Herron, Tom Hiddleston and more talked to CinemaBlend about that real variant reveal in Episode 2, and there are definitely big spoilers involved.) But if you'll excuse me, I'm now going to imagine various MCU characters embroiled in a Blood Simple-level storyline.

Loki drops new episodes on Disney+ each and every Wednesday morning at 3:00 a.m. ET, so while you're already awake and waiting for those eps to go online, be sure and keep up with all the other streaming and linear shows coming soon to the 2021 Summer TV schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.