The Disney Plus series Loki launched by sending everyone’s favorite endless Asgardian prince to face a despotic bureaucracy regulating time travel known as the Time Variance Authority. When the credits for Episode 1, “Glorious Purpose” revealed that the TVA judge calling for Loki’s potential execution was called Ravonna Renslayer, longtime Marvel Comics readers felt they knew about it. before everyone. “Ravonna Renslayer” seemed to be an oddly specific opera name for what appeared to be a minor role. But that’s because Ravonna is an established Marvel character, with a long and complicated comic book history as a time-moved villain.
For some fans, his presence suggested that Loki is there to bring in specific storylines and comic book characters – specifically, her ex-husband, Kang the Conqueror, a time-traveling menace all on his own. But Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who plays Ravonna on the show, didn’t look to the deeper comic book lore to help him decode Loki.
“I took a look at it,” she told Playserver, “but I also knew it wasn’t the most useful information for the story we were telling in Loki. It was so [series director] Kate Herron and our producer Kevin Wright directed me. They told me not to delve too much into this topic, because that’s not really the part of the time we’re talking about.
At Loki, Ravonna is in a position of power – even above fellow TVA associates like Owen Wilson’s Mobius M. Mobius. And it was a departure for the actress.
“For me, it’s so exciting to play such a bossy character,” she says. “I haven’t really had the opportunity to play a character with that kind of gravity before. […] And then the chance to get some action and do some of the stunts that we see a bit later in the series was also very appealing. “
Alternatively, in Marvel Comics, Ravonna Renslayer began her editorial life as the 40th Century Maid Princess of Earth, in the pulp mold of John Carter of Mars or Flash Gordon. Falling in love with the time traveling despot Kang, she leaped in front of a laser blast aimed at her, saving his life and ending hers. But she got a new lease on continuity when a Kang later snatched her from her timeline at the last moment before her death and placed her in stasis, Mr. Freeze-style, in the hopes of find a way to save his life.
Following a series of events (OK, OK, Kang lost a bet with the Grandmaster where he chose the power to kill the Avengers over the power to revive Ravonna, and the Grandmaster resurrected Ravonna himself. to let her know how fucked up Kang), she has become a time traveler herself, locked in an eternal love-hate battle with Kang across time.
The really juicy part of this, for deeply invested Marvel Cinematic Universe fans, is that Kang the Conqueror is widely rumored to be the villain of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the third upcoming Ant-Man film, where he will be played by Jonathan Majors (Lovecraft Country). Could LokiIs Ravonna preparing the trail for Ant-Man’s Kang?
“Who knows, maybe we’ll get together in the future or the past or whatever.” What is the hour, anyway, in VAT? Mbatha-Raw laughs.
Focusing on an earlier version of the character that the comics have never shown gave Mbatha-Raw a lot more freedom to interpret the character in new ways. ” Loki is more of an origin story for Renslayer, ”she said. “So that predates what people know and love about him in the comics. It gives us a little space to do something unexpected.
The unexpected happened in episode 3 of Loki, “Lamentis,” when Sylvie revealed that each Time Variance Authority official is a variant themselves – ripped from their own timeline, with their memory altered so they believe they were created as agents VAT. And that was not the end of surprises.
[Ed. note: Spoilers ahead for episode 4 of Loki, “The Nexus Event.”]
Episode 4 saw Ravonna and TVA locked into a battle with Loki, Sylvie, and Hunter B-15 before the three Time-Keepers themselves – who turned out to be dumb robot mocks, the time equivalent of the Hall of Presidents of Disneyland.
Then, just as Loki was about to tell Sylvie something that seemed very important, Ravonna straightened up and pruned Loki off the timeline. (It’s okay, it turned out very well.) Did Ravonna know she was a Variant? Did she know about the Time-Keeper deception? What power does it really have over the Temporal Variation Authority?
Mbatha-Raw couldn’t answer those questions, of course (and we hadn’t even seen the episode at the time of our conversation), but she enjoyed the questions the show ultimately faces.
“When you have an antihero as your main character, you ask: what’s right? What is the evil? Is anyone entirely good, is anyone entirely bad? ‘ “, she says. “The Time-Keepers and Renslayer are all about the idea that things are only supposed to go one way. [The show asks,] Is it true? Can we change or affect our destiny? Can we evolve? Can someone like Loki change? It’s a universal human question, really.