"The Simpsons" has a long history of packing jokes into the margins and littering the backgrounds of individual frames with jokes. And with their latest crossover special -- one that combines "The Simpsons" with "Loki" and Marvel -- the writers had the opportunity to go hog wild with references to the MCU.
The new Disney+ short film "The Good, The Bart and the Loki" clocks in at just about four minutes, but "The Simpsons" showrunner Al Jean told TheWrap it contains at least 100 references or visual cues, including "Simpsons" characters dressed as Marvel heroes. Some references even arrive in multiple post-credits sequences (in pure Marvel fashion), and it's all punctuated with a gag in which some Springfield residents hold up a sign that reads, "This is what happens when Disney buys Marvel and Fox."
Jean praised longtime "Simpsons" director David Silverman for his ability to pack "as many little Easter eggs and side jokes" as possible into the episode -- even though the team was on an especially tight deadline. They were tasked with delivering the "Loki" crossover in under three months, whereas a normal 22-minute episode of "The Simpsons" takes nine months, and the equally reference-heavy "Treehouse of Horror" episodes for Halloween take a full year.
"Every time you send him a suggestion of, like, Ralph as the Hulk, he sends back this hilarious drawing, so it wasn't hard, it was just a lot of work in a limited amount of time," Jean told TheWrap of Silverman's work. "And the day we delivered it, I was so relieved, I can actually relax."
The premise of the short is simple: Loki is banished from Asgard to Springfield, where he crash-lands in the Simpsons' backyard. Homer worships Loki's ability to duplicate pork chops, while Bart convinces him to teleport Lisa off to a dungeon in Asgard. And with Lisa worthy of Thor's hammer, she summons the Springfield Avengers, which includes Barney as a gut-busting Iron Man, Marge as Gamora and Ralph as the Incredible Hulk.
"The Good, The Bart and the Loki" follows another "Simpsons" short that wound up on Disney+, "Maggie Simpson in The Force Awakens From Its Nap," a "Star Wars" parody that dropped on May 4, aka Star Wars Day. But while that short was a silent film, the "Loki" crossover was able to recruit Tom Hiddleston to voice his mischievous MCU character. Jean said that Hiddleston "could not have been nicer" and that they'd love to bring him back for a proper episode of "The Simpsons."
Hiddleston wasn't the only Marvel player to lend his talents to the short film -- Marvel chief Kevin Feige also volunteered to share a dose of the MCU's magic.
"He was like, 'Would you like the "Avengers" music?' Would we!" Jean recalled.
As for future "Simpsons" crossover possibilities, the show's staff was contracted earlier this year to write as many as five "Simpsons" shorts for Disney+, and Jean said they're eager to try ideas involving Pixar, Nat Geo or other Disney animated classics. The possibilities for Springfield are endless.
"The Good, The Bart and the Loki" is available on Disney+ beginning Wednesday to coincide with the penultimate episode of "Loki."