From its opening minutes, Disney+'s Loki has taken Marvel fans on a surreal ride through time and space, peaking in Episode 5 with one of the most easter egg-filled episodes of any TV show in existence. And that journey has been filled to the brim with magnificent costumes, despite largely consisting of just two character sets: Loki variants and members of the TVA. It's all thanks to costume designer Christine Wada and her team, who found myriad ways of crafting different looks for the many characters roaming on display throughout Season 1. And it turns out one of Wada's original ideas for the TVA's Minutemen went unused because of Scarlet Johansson's Black Widow.
The MCU finally returned to theaters for the first time in over a year with Black Widow, which has already brought in a ton of money via both the box office and through Disney+ Premier Access. Part of that release's build-up energy has been built up by the Marvel's TV takeover on Disney+, with Loki changing up everything for the MCU going forward. And it turns out Black Widow and Loki could have shared more in common visually, perhaps in an alternate timeline, as costumer designer Christina Wada explained to CinemaBlend how the TVA's badass Minutemen uniforms were partially affected by the assassin-turned-Avenger's signature look. When I asked if there were any limits to how Loki's designs were crafted, she said:
I mean, there are things that are just iconic to other characters. And I remember wanting to use - you know how the Minutemen have those orange insignias on their collars and their sleeves? At one point, I think I was trying to do a riff on an hourglass, but then realized that it was too much like Black Widow. So there's stuff where you're like, 'Oh, I want to use that, but I can't!' Stuff like that comes up along the way. But it's a fairly specific color palette to Loki for sure. And brown doesn't bump on anybody in the MCU, which is great, and was really fun to get in there.
I joked about Christine Wada not using purple very much within the costumes for other characters, as not to spark too many unnecessary theories about Kang the Conqueror. (On top of all the necessary Kang theories, to be sure.) But it was apparently a legitimate concern that bringing the hourglass shape too much to the forefront with the Minutemen's uniforms might draw too large a comparison not only to just Black Widow's belt buckle, but also other ways that the hourglass shape is utilized within the character's costume, not to mention the film's marketing imagery.
To give Marvel execs credit, Loki's creative team wasn't forced to completely eliminate hourglass shapes from all of the TVA's imagery, as their main logo does indeed include the familiar iconography within a royal crest-like aesthetic, where it's clearly not the most prominent feature. I suppose it's the best of both worlds, though I'd love to see some of the original designs that Christine Wada had in mind.
When I asked Christine Wada about how she approached the inspired boredom of the TVA agents' uniforms, here's how she put it:
What's funny is that people tend to gloss over that stuff really fast, and it really is kind of the hardest to come up with something that just seems so unnoticeable but still does some subliminal work. You know? So for me, the TVA was challenging in that, how do you create this world of this benign organization and give it some sort of structure system? And then breaking it down into rankings and structure like you would have at a police station. And then how does that all sort of evolve into all the different branches? Bringing in that mid-century element was really fun, because that we did sort of a twist on it. We inverted collars, and I definitely tried to sort of do some little mind-bending design twists to things that your eye is not used to seeing, but just doing it ever so slightly different. Because I think it just ties into the story of like, what's reality? Right? So I kept thinking about every time I would design something, whether it was for the TVA or some of these peripheral characters, it was like, how do you sort of turn it into an Escher?
One of the best things about Loki and its talented team of designers is that each episode is 100% worth going back for second and third viewings to pick up on all the minor details that rest in the shadows of the progressing narratives and character development. From Sylvie's non-feminized costume to Vote Loki's comic-inspired clothing to even the robotic Time-Keepers' otherworldly garb, Christine Wada and the rest of Loki's crew deserve tons of accolades for their consistently excellent work.
Loki will wrap up its first season with what will presumably be a wild and game-changing finale on Wednesday, July 14. Be sure to stay up to date with the 2021 Summer TV schedule to start planning your viewing habits within a post-Loki world.