Disney+ review: Assembled: The Making of Loki
James R | On 28, Jul 2021
Special features are fast becoming one of the most forgotten gems of the home entertainment landscape, as streaming services focus more and more effort on producing new titles. Unless, that is, you’re Disney. The House of Mouse’s subscription service continues to provide extras alongside its library of titles, and, in the case of its ever-expanding Marvel universe, is even releasing the kind of behind-the-scenes documentaries you’d get on a DVD or Blu-ray as TV shows in their own right.
Which brings us to third entry in Marvel Studios’ Assembled, which focuses on the making of Loki. The hour-long documentary is an impressively comprehensive watch, taking us right back to the early days of Tom Hiddleston stepping into the god of mischief’s shoes – we see footage of him on the set of Thor, and also early video of him in the costume, accompanied by some reminiscing about Kenneth Branagh getting the actor involved in the superhero flick.
That leads us to San Diego Comic-Con in 2013, when Marvel bigwig Kevin Feige got Hiddleston to appear in front of a crowded convention audience in character. It’s the moment, we’re told, when Hiddleston really understood the importance of the character, but it’s also the kind of thing that can seem a little self-congratulatory, not least because of how well Hiddleston plays Loki with an entitled, arrogant smirk.
It’s unfortunate, then, he gets a bit distracted here by an overwritten voiceover narration, which leans a little too much into Loki’s fondness for being the centre of attention and leaves us waiting for him to stop embarking on a tangent about time (or “thyme”) and let us get on with learning more about the work that went into the show.
With 299 days, 7,100 hours, going into the project, that’s certainly a lot of work, and Assembled does a great job of highlighting just how detailed those efforts were. We learn about the set design for the TVA (the filming location was an Atlantic Marriott hotel), how the low ceilings and eyeball-like lighting added to the sense of being watched, while also reinforcing the Brazil-esque vibes of the timelessly retro office space. Compare that to the town featured on Lamentis, which had to be created in full to enable a near-one-take show rushing through a chase sequence, and you get a sense of just how varied and imaginative every department on the programme is.
They’re all marshalled with enthusiasm by director Kate Herron, who is a recurring and welcome presence, as her lengthy pitch to Marvel set the tone for a charmingly geeky and in-depth production. She also interestingly talks about the casting, which includes Jonathan Majors as He Who Remains / Kong the Conqueror, who will become a key figure in the MCU going forward. But the best moments are when she talks about Owen Wilson, or when Wilson and Hiddleston share the screen, chatting about their history playing Hamlet on stage (spoiler: only one of them has played Hamlet) while clearly respecting and admiring each other’s work. If you were slightly underwhelmed by the cliffhanger nature of Loki’s Season 1 finale, this documentary recaptures the sense of fun that made it so thrilling to begin with – and leaves you longing for the second season to arriver sooner just to see Wilson and Hiddleston enjoying each other’s company once again.