Friday, October 19, 2012

Loki, Back When He was More...Low-Key

Sorry about the title.  Couldn't resist. 

One thing you need to know is, I’m a superhero freak.  I write superhero fiction, chose a superhero theme for my room when we moved this summer (which weirded my mom out, since I’m a seventeen-year-old girl), and carry around an X-Men encyclopedia with me on a regular basis (I also have a DC version, but Marvel dominates).  So within five days of The Avengers coming out on DVD, I’d watched the film and its commentary several times.

Possibly I have a problem, but it does come in handy sometimes.  After analyzing the heck out of this movie, I’m still only finding the same flaw that bugged me throughout my first viewing.

Whedon turned Loki into a complete [insert preferred synonym for “jerk” here].

Granted, he wasn’t exactly Little Miss Sunshine in Thor.  He did all sorts of unpleasant things to Thor in his first movie, like getting his brother banished, telling him he was responsible for their dad’s death, and coming about this close to killing him—but despite all that, I still found the trickster god a little bit likeable.

The way I see it, there are three main, semi-connected reasons for that:

1.      He was sympathetic.  He may be a royal Norse god, but at the end of the day, he’s also quite insecure.  He’s the younger brother, physically quite a bit weaker than both Thor and all the other warriors running around his world.  Asgard is obviously a warlike place, so that’d make being scrawny even worse.  He finds out he’s a Frost Giant by birth—Frost Giants being the Asgardian’s biggest enemies—and originally just adopted by his dad, Odin, in case that could help bring about peace.  That doesn’t help his outlook much.  He feels used and betrayed, ashamed of himself for what he really is, and like everyone thinks he’s worthless.  And the audience—at least, everyone with a soul—can feel sorry for him about that.
2.     He was relatable.  This one ties in with the sympathy thing, but it’s a little deeper.  On a baser level.  Because even if we’ve never tried to get our brother out of the picture so we can take his throne, most of us can relate to being in someone else’s shadow—and wanting out of it.  Absolute power may not be your thing, but most of us have really, really wanted something—a position or role or even some sort of object—only to be turned down.  A lot of people can relate to his insecurity, because that’s part of being human.  Not only can we sympathize with him, we can empathize with him.  And because of that…
3.     We understood the reasoning behind his motives.  Even if we can’t agree with or condone what Loki does to reach his goals, even if it wasn’t always good for him, it all made sense from his viewpoint.  For his situation.  All he really wanted was the throne, to prove himself to his dad—quite possibly because of the aforementioned Frost Giant insecurity.  Probably the most obvious example of this is when Odin discovers everything Loki’s done, discovers his son hanging from the bifrost bridge, plans ruined, and Loki calls up, “I could have done it, Father!  For you.  And for me, at least, that’s when it hit home—when I realized exactly why I liked the Elizabethan-talking punk.  All these reasons combined.

So.  Anything I missed?  And how do you feel about Loki?  In Thor, he was actually one of my favorites, but my mom disliked him even from the beginning.  Who are some other characters you like, even if you feel like maybe you shouldn’t?

8 comments:

Lisa Gail Green said...

I love a good villain. I thought Loki was definitely more "evil" in Avengers, but he kind of had to be. To me a great villain is one with depth.

Caitlin Hensley said...

I liked Loki in Thor too! But in The Avengers, when it came down to Loki and Thor, I had to be on Thor's side. He's my favorite Avenger, and I just wanted to give him a big, fangirly cuddle. :D

Medeia Sharif said...

I haven't seen this movie yet.

Great list. We need that depth in understanding characters on screen and in books.

Kimberly Krey said...

What a fun take. Have to say, I'm sort of drawn to Loki myself. :)

Jenna Cooper said...

Rumplestilskin from Once Upon a Time is sort of villianish, but once his motives are revealed, it's hard not to feel sympathy for him.

Jemi Fraser said...

I like when the villain's have a complete personalities too. I like when I can like them just a little! Or at least feel some empathy or sympathy :)

Susan Fields said...

I haven't seen The Avengers, but I really disliked Loki in Thor. I agree, though, he was sympathetic, and that helped a lot.

Christina Farley said...

Interesting. I think those are good points to consider when creating a villian. I never like Loki but then maybe we should feel bad for him but understand he's still evil? Or the reason he became evil?