Loki’s Second Episode Reminds Me of Marvel’s Impeccable Needle-Drops
Marvel and Disney+’s Loki is a series of twists and turns so far, and as we continue to see the series find its stride, we’re gifted with more Tom Hiddleston/Loki content than ever before. But this week, we got to see Loki in a completely new element: working—sitting at a desk, doing things with Mobius, basically being a detective. And the series got even better by including an incredible needle-drop during a fight sequence!
So, let’s talk a bit about Marvel and its history of iconic needle-drops.
**Slight spoilers for Loki episode 2 “The Variant” lie ahead.**
This week’s episode of Loki reminded me of something that I, personally, love about the Marvel Cinematic Universe: the needle drops. No one is doing it quite like the MCU in terms of their choice of songs, so I want to talk about this opening fight scene for Loki episode 2 “The Variant” and its use of a classic song—well … one that many of us probably know from a certain animated movie, but still.
Since the clip isn’t out yet, let’s familiarize ourselves with the needle drop in question by watching the scene from Shrek 2 where the Fairy Godmother sings “Holding Out For A Hero” by Bonnie Tyler.
In Loki, he’s not even really in the scene. Well, our Loki isn’t in the scene. We learned at the end of “Glorious Purpose” that there are Loki variants coming after the TVA agents, and so the Loki that we’ve known (mostly) from the “sacred timeline” is going to help Mobius stop these variants of himself. And we get to see one of those variants in action at a Renaissance Faire in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1985.
The TVA agents show up to try to capture this variant Loki, but what they quickly discover is that this Loki has the power to duplicate themselves (or touch another person and take over their body while still remaining a separate version of the variant). It happens when an agent is in the shadows and an announcement for the faire has taken over, saying that they are “holding out for a hero” and then as if the gods themselves smiled down upon me, we get an amazing fight scene with a TVA member basically being possessed by Loki, fighting the other agents to Bonnie Tyler’s hit song.
Two Lokis fighting to “Holding Out for a Hero”? Honestly a next-level needle drop in the world of the MCU. And also, I think, a bit of foreshadowing. We don’t know where the show is going to take our Loki next, but if the world of time needs a hero, maybe our favorite “bad boy” will become that for the TVA and the sacred timeline as we know it. But that’s a discussion for another day. I want to talk about the music of the Marvel world and why this song in particular falls in line with a series of brilliant musical moments in this franchise, starting all the way back with Iron Man.
Iron Man movies
We started the entire Marvel world off by having Tony Stark be the king of rock music. With AC/DC blasting in his speakers, we met Iron Man with the flare of a 40-year-old man and his taste in music refusing to change from the 70s/80s. But that did give us one of the best endings to a movie ever created. When Iron Man comes to an end, the last note is Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark telling the world that he’s Iron Man and suddenly Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” takes us into the credits, and while it is, technically, the credit song, it still is a beautiful needle-drop that I think ushered in not only the tone of the Iron Man movies (which had more moments of Tony listening to classic rock and gave us the gem of “Jarvis, drop my needle” in Iron Man 3).
The Guardians of the Galaxy movies
These movies are just needle-drop after needle-drop and they’re all great, they work with the story incredibly well, and they’re a beautiful nod to the time period in which Peter Quill found these songs because of his mother. I love every single needle-drop but also Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 managed to break our hearts with a Cat Stevens drop and I’ve never been the same since. When Yondu dies in order to save Peter, he had told him that Ego may be his father but Yondu was his “daddy.” Yes, a nice sentiment even if I hated that phrasing. But it makes for an incredibly touching moment between Peter and baby Groot as Peter is listening to the Cat Stevens song “Father & Son.” While the needle-drops of the MCU do pack a punch for a whole range of reasons, this particular song is meant to destroy us emotionally and honestly, good.
I fully admit to not really caring about Thor prior to Ragnarok. It’s not my fault; I thought he was just fine. I liked Loki a lot and part of that was because of the internet but still. I enjoyed what we saw in the team-up movies and I watched Thor and The Dark World and then didn’t think much else about it. Then came Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok and changed the game. He understood what worked about Thor and the comedic elements of his character and also just how badass Thor could be. So seeing Chris Hemsworth fly into frame with lightning and having “The Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin playing as he did so? Game changing. One of the best needle-drops in cinematic history.
I am a sucker for what I deem “Vietnam War music.” Meaning songs that were created as a response to the Vietnam War and how most creatives hated being a part of it at the time. So when Avengers: Endgame opened with “Dear Mr. Fantasy” by Traffic that had the vibe of songs from that same era (the song was released in 1967), I was instantly hooked. So color me surprised when the movie just had fun needle-drops throughout it like “Supersonic Rocket Ship” by the Kinks or Steppenwolf popping up to usher in the last Stan Lee cameo we’d see on screen. It was beautiful, perfect, and the right amount of needle-drops.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Ever think you’d start crying over an AC/DC song? No? Well, you’d be mistaken! Peter Parker needs Happy Hogan’s help so he finally escapes from prison in a foreign country after Mysterio left him for dead. He’s trying to balance the legacy that Tony Stark left behind with trying to be a teenager as well as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man he started out as and it gets to be too much for him. Happy has to remind him that even Tony didn’t know what he was doing and being a hero isn’t a cut and dry thing. He’ll make mistakes, Tony did, but it’s about being a good person.
Peter takes this advice, knows what he has to do, and begins to make his new Spidey suit. Happy tells him to go ahead and work on the suit and he’ll take over the music (after watching Peter use the tech in the same way Tony did during Iron Man) and Happy has a beautiful moment thinking of his friend before putting on AC/DC which Peter responds with “I love Led Zeppelin”. It’s hilarious and poignant but because the Marvel world has established these songs as part of their world, we knew the significance it held for Tony Stark and ended up…crying listening to AC/DC.
But the music of the Marvel world also isn’t exclusive to the MCU. We’ve had iconic songs written for the franchises and characters we know and love. There will always be a love in my heart for “Vindicated” by Dashboard Confessional because of the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies.
And of course, we can’t forget the new era ushered in with WandaVision of theme songs for each new episode. It really was Agatha all along …
Marvel, keep giving me these needle-drops. Keep bringing me the joy of having to watch the same scene three times because I’m too busy rocking out to pay attention to what’s happening. I love it, I cherish them all, and now that you gave one to Loki, I want about twenty more in all your Disney+ shows.
(image: Marvel Entertainment)
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