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‘Loki’ Head Writer Michael Waldron Shares His Major Influences — ‘Mad Men,’ ‘Inglourious Basterds,’ and More

Michael Waldron spoke to IndieWire about the short list of pop cultural ephemera that bled into his MCU original series.

'Loki' Writer on Influences, from 'Mad Men' to 'Inglourious Basterds'

When it comes to the MCU’s latest foray into the television space, Michael Waldron, the head writer of “Loki,” is not shy about wearing his influences on his sleeve — quite literally. He wrote in the pilot script that the aesthetic of the TVA (or Time Varience Authority) is “‘Mad Men’ meets ‘Blade Runner.'”

“There’s so much good stuff in ‘Mad Men’ — every scene, I guess, in ‘Mad Men,'” Waldron said in an interview with IndieWire. This is how Waldron began listing the influences that were percolating as he sat down to pen the story of Loki, who tracks the titular man out of time following the events of “Avengers: Endgame.”

“Mad Men” wasn’t the only cornerstone of prestige TV that Waldron name-checked: “‘The Leftovers,’ for sure. I really was specifically thinking about when they would spend an episode specifically on one character. Like, when Nora goes to that conference in Season 1, or the first Kevin secret agent episode in Season 2, or the lion sex cult episode in Season 3.”

What attracted Waldron to these episodes was that, in his words, they felt like “great, little short stories.” “That’s not to say that [‘Loki’] is procedural and not serialized, but it was really important to me that every episode stood alone.”

The first two episodes of “Loki” feature several two-hander style scenes between Tom Hiddleston’s God of Mischief and Owen Wilson’s TVA bureaucrat Mobius M. Mobius, which Waldron attributes to both his love of dialogue and what he describes as Loki’s superpower. “Specifically when it comes to dialogue, I love writing dialogue. I feel that dialogue is one of Loki’s superpowers. You want to see Superman fly. I think you want to hear Loki talk.”

When pressed on what scenes he looked at when crafting these dialogue-heavy scenes, Waldron again wasn’t shy to drop some of the best influences available: “‘The Master,’ the processing scene with Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman on the boat there; the opening of ‘Inglourious Basterds’ in the farmhouse, and then also the cards on the head scene later on in the basement.” He added that those examples are “just great scenes of tension-building dialogue.”

For more from Waldron — including why he thinks Loki would make an excellent pro wrestler, writing discontinued beverages like Josta and Boku into the show, and what movies he’d love to travel back in time to watch with fresh eyes — be sure to watch the video above. And if you want to know what all the cast members, including Owen Wilson, would go back and watch, check out the video below:

“Loki” debuts new episodes every Wednesday on Disney+.

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