According to a recent interview with the New York Times, Loki writer Eric Martin was steered away from certain characters by Marvel for the streaming, seemingly with the intention of using them in other projects.
When asked about the level of creative freedom he had in writing for the series, Martin noted that while the team, “really have [their] own little sandbox here where [they are] able to be really creative,” they had to “pivot” from including certain characters that were “being used by another [MCU] project”…
“We’re fortunate that we really have our own little sandbox here where we’re able to be really creative and branch off into other directions without stepping on other projects. And some of that’s by design, while some of that is just what we found along the way. In terms of actual marching orders, there have been certain points where it’s like, ‘Oh, you know what, this character is being used by another project,’ and you just have to pivot. But in terms of our drama and our story and where we’re taking our characters, it really is just following them and their needs and proving them on the page. And if we can prove that then nobody steps in and says you need to do something different.”
It should be noted that this is far from the first time this has happened. There’s a great deal of creative control executed by Marvel Studios over the use of its characters as evidenced by similar action in WandaVision’s production.
Marvel’s Creative Control Indicates a Larger Plan
It goes without saying that the MCU is a very thought-out and planned endeavor. It has grown to become quite possibly the largest visual media franchise of all time with hundreds of hours of content in both shows and film. That kind of project demands a plan, and it’s clear Marvel Studios has one.
That being said, Martin’s comments (as well as those from other showrunners) reveal an interesting look at the creative process behind the super-powered name. Loki is in many ways the flagship series for the MCU on Disney+, and so it stands to reason that extra special care is being given not only to shaping its story but also to keeping its influence contained.
While that notion may seem strange when talking about such an interconnected universe, it should be understood that there needs to be limits on characters hopping from show to show, as that can do more harm than good if done poorly. Beyond that, including a character in a short side appearance or with a quickly resolved story could possibly prevent those characters from receiving fully fleshed-out arcs in their own projects.
Speculation has pointed to (with good reason) the idea of the MCU changing drastically with the upcoming Avengers: Secret Wars, which could possibly result in a sort of soft reboot of the setting. The Secret Wars event in the comics did exactly this and perhaps the most notable example is Miles Morales being moved to the main universe.
Connecting this all back to Loki; if Marvel does intend such a shakeup, they may well be attempting to limit the appearance of certain characters until after the climactic events of the next two Avengers films. This is, of course, speculation, but there could well be a good reason that certain Loki variants or Asgardian characters don’t show up in what’s sure to be a very packed season.