All right, folks. It’s time for some Loki rambling! Spoilers for “Thor” and “The Avengers” below, proceed with caution if you haven’t seen ’em yet and don’t like spoilers.
It’s no secret I like the bad guys. Or that I like Loki, the villain from Marvel’s “Thor” and “The Avengers.”
Loki is pretty much custom-designed for me to go gaga over him. Tall, pale, lanky, highly intelligent, and snarky, with long dark hair, striking eyes, and a tragic/complicated backstory, he’s basically Ealasaid catnip. And don’t get me started on his gorgeous outfits (the horns aside. Even I can’t entirely take them seriously). I mean, look at this Pinterest board I made and tell me you don’t see a pattern.
Anyway! Let us consider Loki’s history: (MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR THOR, IN CASE YOU STILL HAVEN’T SEEN IT EVEN THOUGH IT’S BEEN OUT FOR A YEAR)
Born to the king of the Frost Giants, he was abandoned at birth because he was a runt. Odin found him and took him in after defeating the Frost Giants in battle, and raised him as his own. Unfortunately, Odin already had a son: Thor. Since Thor was older, he was first in line for the throne, and since he had a larger-than-life personality while his brother was quiet and thoughtful, he dominated in a major way. So Loki grows up in his brother’s shadow, being taught to hate and fear the Frost Giants as monsters, and not knowing he is a Frost Giant.
Young Loki didn’t even have any friends of his own that we saw, just his brother’s — and they are mostly cruel to him in the offhand, dismissive way a lot of people are to younger siblings of themselves and their friends.
Even after Thor fucked up enormously and was banished to Earth, Odin gave him another chance, even sending the incredibly powerful Mjolnir after him with a spell to lock it in place until someone “worthy” came along to claim it. Loki’s face when Odin tosses Mjolnir into the portal says it all, really:
Heartbreak, folks. There it is.
By the time Loki finally learns his true parentage, he’s already too broken to hear Odin’s reasoning for not telling him (“you are my son. I wanted to protect you.”). His interpretation of Odin’s reasoning is, as he puts it, “So I am no more than another stolen relic, locked up here until you might have use of me?”
All his actions after that come primarily from a desire to prove himself to be “a worthy son.” Of course, he wouldn’t be a tragic villain if he chose a smart course of action or were successful, so he basically tries to engineer the genocide of the Frost Giants. When he fails and Odin not only doesn’t forgive him but shows absolutely zero compassion for what Loki was trying to do, Loki basically tries to kill himself by throwing himself into space.
By the time he shows up in “The Avengers,” (MOAR SPOILERS AHOY) he is completely ’round the bend, so tangled up in his own conception of himself as the unloved and wronged should-be king that he can’t bring himself to see reason. There are glimpses here and there of reason — when Thor tries to convince him to turn off the Tesseract portal, he says it’s impossible, not that he won’t do it. When Thor says they could do it together, showing that he still loves his brother and wants to work with him, Loki stabs him — but in both exchanges there is a moment where he pauses. In that pause is pretty much everything you need to know about Loki. On some level, he knows the stories he tells himself and has built his identity upon are bullshit, but he won’t admit it.
Tom Hiddleston, the brilliant young actor who plays Loki, talks a lot about his own compassion for the character, about how Loki’s horrible destructiveness comes out of his misery and longing:
He’s like any of the villains in human history, you know, it all comes down to his lack of self-esteem. Anyone who’s trying tot ake over, to get people beneath them, is usually lacking in self-love. Outside Loki, I can judge him and call him the nutter that he is, but inside him I have compassion for the fact he’s just another lost soul.
To have compassion for a character is no different from having compassion for another human being.
Interviewer: You’ve been in the midset of this character for a while now, with Thor 2 coming up, right? Is that weird?
Hiddleston: It’s kinda weird, ’cause he’s so… sad. I just want to make it alright for him.
Given how much of “Thor” Loki spends either crying or with tears in his eyes (and consider yourselves blessed I am only putting one .gif here out of the many many I could), I think “sad” is a good way to describe him.
Poor kid. He just needs a hug.
Word is that Hiddleston has been contracted for a bunch more movies as Loki, so even if Loki isn’t the main villain, he’ll at least be around. Thank goodness. I mean, look at this gif and tell me dude isn’t plotting his revenge:
I can’t wait.
In the meantime, the dude has a HUGE fandom on Tumblr. Come hang out!