Marvel Cinematic Universe movies have been to all kinds of weird places – from outer space to the halls of the Norse Gods, fictional nations of Eastern Europe and Africa, and well, Miami. , Florida. But by creating Loki, Marvel decided to take Tom hiddlestonis the popular god of mischief on time travel himself.
It begins in the orange 60s-inspired offices of the Time Variance Authority, then travels through an eccentrically cluttered void littered with the garbage of the universe, and ends at the edge of the known universe. In order to sell audiences both on the oddly bureaucratic VAT and on the unknowable edges of time, Marvel has exploited Kasra Farahani to shape the aesthetic of the series, although he had more experience as a concept artist (he had worked in this department for the studio since 2017 guardians of the galaxy suite) than as head decorator.
Farahani ended up being the perfect person for the job, producing intricate and visually stunning sets for Lokithe first season of. The Marvel franchise typically relies on CG heavy pitches; Loki instead, he opted for real, bizarre details, like TVA tile work and vaguely anachronistic technology, to give audiences a disturbing, otherworldly vibe.
The final location of the first season, The Citadel at the End of Time, is a particular stunner that ties the themes and character work together, and reveals a few more layers behind it. Jonathan majorsis a fascinating new character, known until now only as The One Who Remains. According to Farahani, Whoever Remains hasn’t left this building for a long, long time and Marvel fans might want to wonder wy. Farahani took Vanity Show behind the scenes of this place, including sharing exclusive images, to explain what exactly Who Remains is all about.
Vanity Fair: How was this place originally described to you? What were the writers looking for?
Kasra Farahani: It’s one of those things that we design, at least in advance, in the absence of a script. When we started we had scripts for the first two episodes, but the rest were just a preview. We knew this was the end times Citadel where the Remnant was. There are previous images in the comics. It was basically a fortress on top of a tiny asteroid. The goal of the show was so much to have the visual and narrative anchor of TVA, but then to have this big universe with all these different places that cover a wide visual spectrum. We knew [the Citadel] was going to be the last place, so we wanted it to be particularly spectacular.
We had the idea of doing something inspired by Petra in Jordan, so this idea that the architecture was sculpted in situ from the asteroid itself instead of being erected using different construction materials. Everything was going to be literally carved out of the asteroid itself. It’s kind of a big commitment, from an appearance standpoint, because for it to work there couldn’t be [anything else] brought it. It would have been strange to have the architecture of this asteroid sculpted – which we’ve blackened with a gold vein of an unknowable element moving through it – and then brought in wood, rugs, and paint. It’s such a flamboyant choice to carve the whole building out of this stuff, and the style, inspired by the Gothic revival, was going to be flashy. So we had to engage in this idea that there are no other finishes in there.
I had a few people who asked me if I thought the black rock crossed with gold was a tribute to the Japanese practice of Kintsugi, which involves using gold or other metallic materials to repair broken ceramic in a way that shows all cracks.
I became aware of [Kintsugi] throughout the process of determining the paint finish for this material, but it was not a conceptual inspiration for us. The inspiration was just this idea that, as science increasingly shows, there is this unfathomable cache of precious metals and rare elements on these asteroids. Gold was also an unknowable type of technology. Either science-based technology as we understand it, or some kind of metaphysical system by which this place derives its importance.
Who built this place?
I believe whoever remains built it. The greatest influence was probably Xanadu from Citizen Kane, and Hearst Castle accordingly. This eccentric person prowling around this great Citadel. I pitched this idea that he retired to the office at the time. The atrium, [where] you see the 13 foot tall Time Sentinels statues and the room with the giant watch and the timekeeper statues… it looks like he has retreated from these places and they are in bad shape. In terms of architectural style, we were also inspired by Hearst Castle, [which] is this composite of different pieces of European architecture.