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How can I load a large file in literal mode, but also as UTF-8?

You cannot. That would be contrary to what Emacs means by "literal". See C-hig (elisp)Disabling Multibyte By default, Emacs starts in multibyte mode: it stores the contents of buffers and ...
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Why does emacs not load full configuration until `load-file` is called?

IIUC your question is about tab-width. This variable is automatically buffer-local (as indicated by C-h v tab-width), meaning that whenever it is set in a buffer it acquires a buffer-local value. ...
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