Michael Waldron had already written a script about time travel, so when he heard Marvel was looking for pitches on a new series about Loki that involved time travel, well, he was already well versed in that on-screen concept. Obviously, Marvel liked what they heard because not only is Waldron is the head writer of Loki, he’s also been tapped to write Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and he’s reportedly writing the future Star Wars movie that Kevin Feige is leading. (All of this led to a few “King of Hollywood” jokes during the interview that I think I found funnier than Waldron did.)
Of course, this leads to a situation where an interview subject can’t really say anything at all about any of his upcoming projects. But, never fear, because we did get some answers. And I am sure they are totally real answers. (Though I’m still waiting for that DM I was promised.)
So take me through this a bit, because if I’m you a few years ago I’m thinking things are going pretty well. But then you go from that to writing Loki and writing the new Doctor Strange and a reported Star Wars movie. Now you’re the King of Hollywood. How does that happen?
“King of Hollywood,” I’ll be sure to tell that one to my wife. Look, man, I’ve been so fortunate, I’ve been propped up by great collaborators and everything…
Right, but with Loki, do you pitch? Do they come to you?
I was working on Rick and Morty, on season four, and Marvel, they were going to do this Loki show and it was going to be a time travel show. I had just written a time travel movie that landed on the Black List, and that was kind of my way into that world to pitch on this. To Marvel’s credit, or to credit their own insanity, they didn’t care that I didn’t have really all that many produced credits to my name, if any, at that point. They let me take on this big job, and over there, it’s such a great creative atmosphere that you really are set up for success if you just work hard. So, fortunately, I had a good idea and a good team of writers around me. And now I’m the “King of Hollywood.”
I’m just going to run that “King of Hollywood” quote without me prompting it first. So it will just you just saying that.
[Laughs] Oh god. Yeah, great. Yeah, “I’m Michael Waldron and I’m the King of Hollywood.” I can’t wait.
So they’re open to all this stuff. But also, do they tell you, “Well, here’s what this series also has to accomplish”?
Dude, it’s crazy, man. It’s actually less of that than probably anybody would even think. There’s the, “we’re going to do Loki set in the world in the TVA,” and beyond that, the mandate is just make the best Loki show you possibly can. Maybe there’s a few guard rails here and there, I can’t put Batman in it…
Now, you’d think the King of Hollywood could get that done. Now I’m rescinding that title.
Maybe that’s a misdirect? I don’t know, keep watching. But there’s no cap on your imagination, and if we’ve got a good reason to do something that makes our project great, then they’re going to get behind it. If all these projects are individually good, and stand on their own, and somebody’s grandfather could sit down and watch them and somewhat understand what the hell is going on? Even if he’s never seen anything else in the MCU? That’s a success.
How old a grandfather are we talking here? Like a hip grandfather who’s 50? Or are you talking a Greatest Generation grandfather? Because I don’t think anyone from that generation is going to watch Loki and go, “I understand the plot of this show.”
Well, then I fucked up, because I really wanted 76-year-olds to love this show.
Well, that’s always the target demographic.
Right, that’s the demographic. Look, I showed my grandfather, who’s 87, the first Avengers, in preparation for this. He was on the ride, he got it, so we’ll see. I mean, I don’t know, I’ll let you know after Wednesday. After he watches it.
Well, there’s no way around it, you have to kind of explain the rules of what we’re watching. And if I’m you, that’s my biggest concern: how do I explain this but also keep people entertained?
Totally, man. That’s the biggest challenge of this thing. Look, I saw your tweets. I wanted you to love the show more than anybody.
I don’t not love it. I’ve only seen two episodes and it’s setting the stage…
No, I know. But you, rightfully, I think, that was the biggest challenge. Like, okay, this is a time travel series and we have to lay out rules that can withstand weekly scrutiny. We have to understand what the time travel laws are so we can know how they’re broken. So, there was always going to be just a dump of exposition. So it was like, all right, what are the coolest ways to put that out there, and then hopefully shift it to the background, and then get on the ride, and not get caught up in it moving forward?
To be fair, I think my tweet was more, just in general, wary of multiverses. And DC’s going that route. I’m guessing we’re probably going to have a Fast and Furious multiverse soon. Everyone’s doing it. But if you’re going to do it, this does seem like the correct entryway into that.
No, man, look, that represented my viewpoint in it. I thought that was my job in the writers’ room: to have the most cynical, scrutinizing attitude toward all this shit the whole way through. I was just like, it will put me to sleep if there’s too much crap. So, I tried to use that as a superpower: how easily I fall asleep in things, to hopefully make an entertaining television show.
Before we run out of time, you are also writing the next Doctor Strange movie. So how does that movie end?
I will DM you, and you can just run the DM as the headline next to my King of Hollywood quote.
That’s great, then I don’t even have to type it out. I will note, “look how much work this man saved me by sending me a DM with all the information.”
Great, I’ll do it.
And it’s reported you’re writing the Kevin Feige Star Wars movie. What’s that about, and how does that end?
Actually, the same way as Doctor Strange 2.
Oh, does it?
Yeah, I’m just running it back.
So it’s the same plot with the same characters?
Yeah, but it’s in space. It’s Star Wars, it’s different.
So, we’ll see the Lucasfilm logo, the title crawl, and then it’s just the Doctor Strange movie again, but we just don’t notice?
Exactly, but it’s nighttime, so it’s space.
Oh, I see. You just lower the temperature of the film color, so it looks like it’s in space. Some superimposed stars here and there.
Yeah. I’m telling you, man, this is an easy job.
See, when I first started the interview, I’m thinking this has to be so complicated to do what you do. And the secret is just rerunning the same movie.
Rerunning the same movie over and over. Yeah, exactly, and then the Fast and the Furious movie that I write will then be the same as Star Wars and Doctor Strange.
You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.