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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Why We Love Loki

For some, one of the great mysteries of mankind is the fact that Marvel's Loki probably has more fangirls than all of the other Avengers combined.  Many people can't understand this.  After all, he killed 80 people in two days, right?

And yet, there is that population of fans who find themselves strangely fond of this "villain".  If you aren't sure why, here is an explanation.  If you are already in Loki's Army, well, then here's a tribute to his...Lokiness.  And also, what writers can learn from him about character creation.  Because this is a writing blog, after all.  And we here at The Epic, The Awesome, and The Random are rather fond of Loki ("we" = Annie).

Note: This post is burdened with glorious spoilers about the ending of Thor.

1. Let's get the most obvious thing out of the way first: Tom Hiddleston.  The man Tumblr worships.  The original "Extremely Photogenic Guy".  The guy who can go viral on Youtube with a video of him packing a suitcase.  The guy who is so polite and gentlemanly, he probably thanks the ATM for giving him money (not my information--a "Hiddlesfact".  Becase those are obviously always entirely true).  There was one big reason he was picked for this part, and it's that he's awesome at it.  Originally, Joss Whedon wanted to have two villains in The Avengers, but after seeing Hiddleston's ability to completely become Loki in Thor, he decided against it.  He's an awesome actor that can show every ounce of depth that exists in a character.  Kristen Stewart, are you taking notes?

2. Odin, the God of Terrible Parenting.  I am of the belief that Loki wouldn't have fallen as far as he did (That was bad word choice, I know.  I probably just offended both the Loki fandom and the Sherlock fandom at the same time.  Too soon, too soon.)  have descended into villainness if his adoptive father hadn't given him the final (metaphorical) push.  Let's look at Odin's track record (quotes paraphrased by yours truly):

Odin: Both of you [Thor and Loki] were meant to be kings.  Except you, Loki.

Odin: *rides grandson (Sleipnir) into battle against Frost Giants*

A typical Asgardian family argument: Thor: *angst angst* Aaaargh! 

Odin: Oh, Loki, I see you're having an identity crisis and hanging by one hand off a bridge?  Well, you still aren't good enough! 

Loki: Something's wrong with me.  I'm cursed.  What's wrong with me?
Odin: JK LOL, I'm not your father.  I kidnapped stole you from Laufey. 
Loki: Wha--
Odin: *takes a nap*

Seriously, Odin.  If he had been a little more supportive towards Loki, Loki might not have wanted to go attack Earth in The Avengers.

3. In the beginning of Thor, the hero/villain roles are somewhat reversed.  Thor is an arrogant jerk, and Loki is the likable, reasonable one.  Thor is eager to go smash some bad guys around, not really caring that it'll start a war in which fellow Asgardians--and possibly his friends and family--will die.  Loki urges him against it, and when he can't stop Thor, slips Odin a little note about the plan.  Loki goes to Jotunheim to protect his brother, and gets Odin's help to stop Thor's stupidity.  (Can anyone tell that I can't stand Thor until he goes to earth/Midgard?) 

And what, exactly, does he do in this movie to make him a villain?  In fact, not much.  He lets Laufey in, but then he kills him, so that sort of negates itself.  He takes the throne, but Thor's on Earth and Odin is in a coma, so who else would take it?  In the end, the only evil thing he does is send the Destroyer after Thor.  Other than Thor, though, I don't think this action hurts anyone (other than damaging a few buildings, perhaps).  I'm not sure this single action is enough to justify calling him a villain in this movie.

4. He saves Odin's life.  Of course, he's the one who let Laufey in to kill Odin in the first place, but still.  Which begs the question...did Loki plan to let Laufey in and then kill him all along, or was it a spontaneous decision?  I like to believe the former.  I think he felt a little hurt that Odin didn't believe he was a worthy king, and wanted to prove himself.   

Rainbow Bridge?  Rainbow Road?  Anyone?
5. He won in The AvengersOh, you thought the Avengers won?  Nope.  Think again.  Consider this: Loki doesn't really care about Earth.  Why should he?  All he wants is to win Odin's favor and be respected in Asgard, and let everyone know he is a perfectly fit king.  But he can't get to Asgard since the Bifrost was destroyed (so how did Thor get to Earth?  I have no idea...), so he needs another way to go.  So he comes up with a foolproof Machiavellian plot: he'll try to take over Earth, which Thor cares about.  Thor will defend Earth.  If Loki wins, he gets control of Earth and gets to rule people, and is now free to use its resources to get back to Asgard.  If he loses, he gets taken back to Asgard by Thor.  Tony Stark was never more wrong than when he said "There's no version of this where you come out on top."  Um, no matter what happens, he wins.  Oh, Joss Whedon is definitely tricky....  There's a full, more in-depth article on Loki's victory here.

This is especially true when you think about Nick Fury's line "Then why do I get the feeling [Loki] is the only one of us who wants to be here?"  Loki let himself be captured.  Remember, in that Germany scene, when he transforms from his Asgard-style self, all decked out in cloak and helmet and scepter, into his Midgard suit/scarf self?  Unless I'm missing something, I see no reason why he couldn't have changed back into the Asgard form any time he wanted, and have access to his weapons.  But he didn't, because he wanted to be taken back to Asgard.

6. He is so often on the verge of tears.  Did you catch this while watching the movies?  He spends a lot of time on this line between crying and composure.  Or just plain being evil, but with watery eyes.  Tom Hiddleston says: “All of his villainy comes from an emotional place. He’s heartbroken. His whole life has been a lie. He’s born as a cast out child to this monster. He was then adopted, he was then lied to and betrayed. And yet, he has an enormous style and elegance and a grace whether it’s a genetic inheritance or some natural predisposition. But if you’re going to destroy the universe you might as well look good doing it.” 

Basically, Loki has a tragic life and is stylish.  We just plain feel bad for him.  He's going around beating up Avengers, but he's...crying?  This pain is at the core of him, and it's what separates him from the rest of the pack of "bad guys".  Most of us can't relate to a desire to take over the world or kill people, but we know these base emotions and can connect.

Underneath that in-control exterior is a little boy who wants to be loved.  All he wants is acceptance from his father.  To not always be in Thor's shadow.  To not be "another stolen relic".  To have an abudance of pudding.  

7. And the second part of this quote: style.  Let's face it--would Galbatorix be a more fan-loved villain if, in the Eragon movie (I know, I know--bear with me), he hadn't been rather bald and unmemorable (not to mention unintentionally amusing)?  If he had been the more dashing, younger villain like I imagined him, he might be easier to connect with.  But he's hard to like--unlike Loki, with his shiny gold helmet and majestic green cloak.  Loki is tall (seriously--Hiddleston is well over six feet tall), exudes an aura of power, and has a massive amount of fangirls who find him quite handsome. 

8. He's quotable, and everyone likes a quotable person.  Or, okay, I like a quotable person.  Loki's most memorable monologue is probably the one in The Avengers, in Germany: "Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state? It's the unspoken truth of humanity, that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life's joy in a mad scramble for power, for identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel."  And maybe it looks at humanity in a dark light and maybe it's twisted, but there is truth to it.  Not truth that we'd like to admit or embrace, and not truth that we can't avoid, but Loki's hit on humankind's nature to become a follower.

Also, Loki's monologue to he talking to Natasha, or himself?  Or both?  It seems that his words apply to both of them.  "Can you wipe out that much red?"  Loki, too, has red in his ledger.  (There's a graphic that does a better job showing this.)

And thus, a ship was born.
"I am Loki, of Asgard, and I am burdened with glorious purpose."  He's going to attack, but he's going to do so eloquently.  Of course.  There's no barbaric battle cry going on here.  (Again, let's contrast this with the Typical Asgardian Family Argument, above.)

And then there's the "If it's all the same to you, I'll have that drink now."  And my favorite, "Now can I give you a kiss?"  The second one is from a deleted scene, and he's poking fun at Thor.  I have no idea why that scene was ever deleted, because it does a great job showing their brotherly relationship.

9. Can we all just take a moment to appreciate how symbolic Loki's fall into space is?  Am I the only one who sees this?  I've never read about this anywhere else.  In Thor, Loki retains a bit of innocence.  He hasn't gone into full-on villain mode yet.  And then he's hanging from the Rainbow Bridge, and it seems like Thor and Odin would be able to save him.  He's still holding on, physically and emotionally.  But then something inside him lets go.  Literally and metaphorically, he falls.  (Can someone please explain to me why authors and movie directors love to throw beloved characters off bridges, ledges, buildings, etc.?)  The next time we see him, either in Thor's post-credits scene or in The Avengers, something has changed.  He has descended, now, into a more complete state of villainy.

10. Other random things: 1. Thor has spent quite a bit of time on Earth and has no idea how to use technology.  Loki has spent little time here, and already knows how to use complex gadgets.  2. His I-can't-believe-I'm-related-to-you-idiots face when Thor and Odin are arguing.  3. Steve and Wendy.  4. Alan Rickman, Owen Wilson, Joey the war horse, velociraptor, and other impressions.  5.  Random scarves.  6. He's still intimidated by his big brother.  7. "I do what I want."  8. The cane-flip.  9. "You can't kill an entire race."  "Why not?" 10. "And you can return Jotunheim to all its...glory."  11. FEELS.  ALL THE FEELS.  12. And more.

Don't get me wrong.  I don't condone murder or attacking other people's planets.  Many things that Loki does are not admirable.  What I'm trying to point out is that Loki is not your typical black-and-white villain.  He's a shade of gray somewhere in between (as is everyone, in fact).  He's more complex than your usual Disney-type I'm-evil-'cause-I'm-evil bad guy.  In Thor, especially, he's not even really a bad guy at all.   

Hiddleston, again, on Loki: "My job is to find sympathy where society refuses to. People like Loki are often locked up and judged and reviled—and rightfully, kind of, chastised and castigated and lionised. My job is to find the humanity in him. Ultimately, underneath all of Loki’s hatefulness and spite is a lost child. I have to get underneath the skin of that. He’s just someone who is so lacking in self-esteem, all he needs is true affection, I guess."

Loki is a fascinating character that is so often overlooked by moviegoers.  All some people see is the villainy, when there are so many layers underneath.  This, right here, is the key to character creation in any medium, whether it be a novel, movie, etc.  Layers, and the ability to connect with the audience.  To create a character that is larger than life and yet so very human, like Loki.  (And Loki isn't even human.) 

I'm eager to see what happens in the second Thor movie.  I've heard that Loki goes through some sort of redemption, which I'm happy with.

To be fair, there should be a portion on this chart for Darcy* and Lady Sif. 
Those two need to team up, because they'd be unstoppable together.
So, for all of you who don't understand why Loki has such a large fanbase--maybe you understand now?  Or maybe not.  Either way, then, here's my public testament to Loki's Army.  Because we all know that he's coming back in Avengers 2 with an army of fangirls.  Obviously.

(Anybody who has been paying attention to my posts lately--are you really surprised that I posted this?  It was coming.  It was inevitable.) 

Here's some extra stuff for Loki fans: 1. This fabulous Loki/Thor (but mostly Loki) music video set to Florence + The Machine's 'Breath of Life', which is an amazing, awesome song.  2. This fan-made trailer of the movie Thor, but from Loki's perspective.  Watch as Thor actually becomes the villain.  I am not responsible for the overload of feels that may come from these videos.

 I leave you with this GIF of Loki.  Loki everywhere.  And no, I'm not sorry about the amount of Loki love that goes on around here.


*Is anybody shipping Darcy/Steve Rogers?  As of right now, I ship it.  Marvel, make this happen.  (And if you have to ask what "shipping" means in this context, you'll never know.)
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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Couldn't work out how to get rid of my typos, so it ended up deleting the comment lol. Anyhoo, awesome post! :)

  3. I kind of love you right now :) Loki is my favourite Marvel character and you've expressed everything that I love about him. Thank you!

    1. Aw, thanks! Loki is my favorite Marvel character as well (as you probably guessed).

  4. You are perfect! Everything you said is true and amazing! You're amazing! I love Loki! *spoiler* I cried a lot when he "died" in Thor 2 even when I knew he was probably still alive.... Yes I cried. Anyways you're style of writing is amazing :)

  5. I just reread this post and I remembered why I loved it so much. And the face Loki makes, the I-can't-believe-I'm-related-to-you-idiots face is THE BEST face ever. I tend to use it whenever I hear or am listening to particularly stupid comments. My friend says she has to try not laugh every time I make that face, because I tend to do it unintentionally. I also have a picture of said face at my disposal to send whenever words just cannot describe how I feel in terms of the levels of idiocy shown by some people.

    By far, Loki is the best villain! Hail *King (not-yet-but-soon-he-will-be-I-swear-because-Odin-is-missing-and-Thor-left-Asgard)* Loki!

  6. YES...I wrote a similar post on my blog!

  7. YES...I wrote a similar post on my blog!


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