‘Loki’: Meet the Man Behind the Curtain, He Who Remains
We're all villains here.
Who’s running the Time Variance Authority? The answer is a little more complicated than you might realize, but it all boils down to one person, who Miss Minutes calls, “He Who Remains.”
His presence has loomed largely throughout Marvel Studios’ Loki, and after it was revealed that the Time Keepers were nothing more than robotic puppets, everyone — ranging from Loki and Sylvie, to even people high up at the TVA like Judge Renslayer — need answers. Finally, those are delivered in the Season 1 finale, “For All Time. Always.” It’s been He Who Remains all along!
Another thing to wrap your head around is that He Who Remains is played by Jonathan Majors, who’s set to appear in Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania as Kang the Conqueror. His appearance here alludes to the greater multiverse that’s at stake should the Sacred Timeline break (which, by the end of the episode, it absolutely does).
“We knew that we wanted this show to be huge, and we wanted it to really end with a bang and have a huge impact on the MCU moving forward,” head writer Michael Waldron tells Marvel.com. “Knowing that Kang was probably going to be the next big cross-movie villain, and because he is a time-traveling, multiversal adversary, it just always made so much sense. I came up with that big multiversal war mythology and pitched it out in the room one day to our producers. And they said, yeah, let's go for it. We knew we were going to end up meeting the man behind the curtain. And then it was just on us to make sure that that meeting really delivered.”
As He Who Remains explains to the befuddled Loki and Sylvie (considering they weren’t sure who they were going to meet at the end of time), he set up the TVA to try and keep the timeline in check. After a variant of himself discovered different multiverses and started traveling around, sharing knowledge and information, everyone lived in peace for a while — until a war broke out. Thankfully, He Who Remains was able to stop the war, fix the timeline, and keep his other dangerous variants at bay. That’s how it’s been for hundreds and thousands of years.
But, as he tells Loki and Sylvie, things might be going great now, but it could change in an instant. Those He Who Remains variants who could escape from their own multiverse should the timeline break and enter ours? They’re the ones you need to worry about.
“You had to leave a lot of meat on the bone in terms of how evil he could be, because that's He Who Remains' whole thing, that it's not me who you should be afraid of,” Waldron continues. “‘It's the other versions of me that are going to come.’ It was trying to really hint at that terrifying evil within without going all the way there.” In Waldon’s own words, he was just trying to write him as a “very charismatic sociopath.”
The pieces were already in place to have He Who Remains be the big bad at the end of the show, and when Majors signed onto the role, Waldron explains it was, “So exciting and humbling. You have such an astounding actor who is that much more of a cool thing. You had to write him in a way that he felt worthy of being the villain at the end of our show.”
“I knew I could always breathe a sigh of relief knowing we had Majors in that finale. We hung a lot of our hopes on [the character]. This guy is laying out, ‘Here's the deal,’ and it’s one final test between our two Lokis.”
The question of who would play He Who Remains, and later Kang, loomed large, with Waldron wondering, “Are you going to have somebody charismatic and magnetic as you imagine? Loki and Sylvie, they fought so hard to get to this point and they're not going to be able to take their eyes off him. Getting Jonathan, hopefully [the audiences] is going to feel the same way.”
But, is he the villain? As he later tells Loki and Sylvie after a very long monologue, they’ve all done horrible, terrible, horrific things in their lives — they’re all villains in one way or another. But now, as he says in the episode, they can do all these things for a good reason.
“I was quite excited that we got to show him because he is the one that brings it all [together],” director Kate Herron adds. “[He’s] the theme of our show. No one is completely good or completely bad, and people do fall into that gray area. I thought his reasoning with [Loki and Sylvie] that you can take me out, but I'll be back here anyway...you're going to awaken all these versions of me. And they are much scarier than me. I really believe him when he says that.”
While things don’t work out in He Who Remains’ favor (Sylvie is still hellbent on completing her mission to take down the TVA, after all), Majors’ presence in the show was a treat for everyone.
“I just want to salute Jonathan Majors,” shares Tom Hiddleston. “He came in the last lap of this series and made an extraordinary impact. And it’s quite something to do that for a story, to get to its final chapter and to introduce the character of such breadth, and depth, and charisma, and intelligence. He was dazzling. It was our final week of filming, literally. He came in and blew us all away.”
“It was so exciting for me to watch because I knew that for Jonathan, as an actor, it’s his entry point into the MCU,” Hiddleston adds. “To watch him come in and be so ready, and so agile, and so prepared, and so surprising. Sophia and I sat and watched him deliver this extraordinary performance of such wit and with such intelligence. It was a real thrill to watch him do that.”
“He was so much fun and he absolutely blew it out of the park,” Sophia Di Martino says. “As soon as he was on set, he was phenomenal. Like, no one could take their eyes off him. You knew something magical was happening and it was like, ‘Oh my god, are you watching this? This is going to be amazing.’”
“I remember being there [while he was filming],” Waldron says. “He’s an amazing actor, and as amazing actors do, they make it their own. Jonathan could perform the phone book and it would be incredible.”
Hopefully, fans are just as excited and bewildered as Loki and Sylvie meeting him in the finale —and his involvement with the show has (thankfully) been kept a secret. “They think something’s coming as a post-credits scene!" Waldron exclaims. "Nobody thinks that the meat of the episode is him!”
All six episodes from the first season of Marvel Studios’ Loki are now streaming exclusively on Disney+. Loki will return in Season 2.
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This is just the beginning of the Phase 4 news. Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more details and sign up for Disney+ and start streaming now! And be sure to follow Disney+ on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more.
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