Character Analysis: Loki

Thor and Loki. Can I just go on forever about these two? I’ve got a lot of feelings, mostly for Loki. Loki is one of the most amazing, sympathetic villains I’ve ever seen, and I absolutely love the direction they took his character in the movie. Hiddles. God, you nailed it, son.

But let’s get into this. We start off the movie with Thor’s coronation. The deleted scenes I think really should have been included in the main body of the movie. They really help to expand on the characters. Before his coronation, we see Thor showing a moment of doubt, or at the very least nervousness. He’s worried about how he will be perceived in his succession of Odin. Thor is this extremely arrogant and confident man, so for him to show this moment is a big deal. And it’s Loki who is there to reassure him. Loki has this reputation as a liar, but he is so sincere with Thor here. He says flat out that there are times that he’s jealous, but Thor should never, ever doubt Loki’s love. I think this entire plot of Loki’s started because of that, because of his love for his brother.

Loki’s love for Thor is why he brought the Frost Giants in to stop the coronation. He’s not doing it because he’s jealous and because he wants the crown. He’s doing it because he knows that Thor isn’t ready yet. He knows, better even than their father, that Thor is still too raw and arrogant. He’s too easy to anger and too prone to rash judgments. And Thor proves that immediately. Odin tells him to let the Frost Giant thing go, and Thor’s immediate reaction is to overturn a table and directly disobey his father’s stern orders by leading his friends into Jotunheim.

Loki knows what he’s doing when he agrees with Thor about the Frost Giants. He knows that Thor is going to get the idea to go off and do something rash, but Loki never, absolutely never, intended for Odin to react the way he did and banish Thor. Because all this does is leave Loki without a single friend in all of Asgard.

It’s absolutely heartbreaking to watch the scene after Thor’s banishment. Sif, who is unflinchingly loyal to Thor, wants Loki to go to Odin and get the sentence reversed. And I look at this and think, “What do you expect him to do?” Odin blindly banishes Thor without thought to what Frigga is going to think. He growls at Loki rather than give Loki a chance to plead Thor’s case. Loki can’t do anything here. He can go and talk to Odin all that anyone likes, but Odin thinks that his judgment is best, and he’s not going to flinch.

The biggest reason this scene breaks my heart so much is the way that Loki’s so-called friends behave towards him. The problem with Sif’s great loyalty to Thor is that she equally distrusts Loki. When Loki leaves the room, she is immediately accusing him of being jealous of Thor to the point that he’s glad to see his brother gone. Volstagg pipes up to say that they ought to be grateful to Loki for saving their lives by having Heimdall go to Odin. But he says it with reluctance. Then Hogun reminds everyone that Laufey accused the House of Odin of having traitors. And, excuse me, what the hell? Granted, yes, Loki does end up being the one who let the Frost Giants in, but at this point, there is no evidence of that. The Asgardians and the Frost Giants are enemies. They are raised hating each other. Why in the world would you ever believe the king of a species your people hate so greatly when he tries to slander the house of your king? Fandral, thankfully, at least says that, yeah, Loki likes to play jokes, but this is some serious shit you’re accusing him of.

I mean, Jesus. Loki is a prince of Asgard. No one other than Odin and Frigga know that he’s adopted. We get the sense in the movie that Thor, Loki, Sif and the Warriors Three are old friends, probably from childhood. So they’ve been raised with Loki, known him forever, played and fought alongside him, and their immediate reaction is to accuse him of treason and conspiring to usurp the throne? Based on what evidence? He likes to play tricks, so that makes him the prime candidate for all evil doings?

This is so telling of what it was like for Loki growing up. He’s not like the other Asgardians. His strengths aren’t brute force. He’s good with magic. He’s cunning. He thinks and plans and stays more to the shadows. But because Thor, loud, strong, arrogant, brutish Thor, is the epitome of what an Asgardian warrior should be, Loki is even more shunned. As if he isn’t different enough on his own. But then you put him next to his golden brother. He doesn’t stand a chance. And the favoritism and preference isn’t just among their friends and the citizens of Asgard. It’s right in his own home. Odin so greatly and blatantly prefers Thor. Thor is the son of his own loins, but Loki doesn’t know that, and so it’s even more of a mystery why he isn’t given the same love and attention as Thor is. He can’t see any reason for it.

And let’s go into a quick aside on Odin’s treatment of Loki. His accounts of the War and his taking Loki are a bit contradictory and sketchy. He “rescues” a baby that “nobody wanted and was left alone to die” and bring him home to raise with the hope that he can be used to “bring about a permanent peace.” Um, what? If Laufey had abandoned Loki to die, why would he be willing to accept Loki back as a type of bartering chip? What I read from this is that Odin stole Loki from the temple where he was being kept hidden and safe while the Asgardians were attacking Jotunheim. Odin stole Loki with the intention of raising him as an Asgardian, raising him to hate the Jotuns and think them monsters. Then, when the time was right, Odin would have Laufey killed and place Loki on the Jotun throne, because as Laufey’s son, he is the rightful heir. But this means that the Jotun king is now loyal to Asgard and thinks his subjects monsters. So Odin has won far more than a physical battle here.

I also should point out that Odin gets plenty psychological with his own kids. In the scene where we’re shown Odin giving the kids a tour of the weapons vault, he very plainly tells them that they are both meant to be kings, but only one of them can have his throne. Really, Odin? Are you fucking serious? How can you say that to your children? Sibling rivalries exist all on their own, without parents helping them along, and Odin is encouraging them to fight in a very big way here. And he’s giving Loki all this false hope. “Yeah, you’re made to be a king, but sucks to be you, because you’re the younger one and therefore not as important as your brother.” What is this?

Anyway, so Loki has grown up feeling inferior. And this abuse comes from all sides. Even from Thor, although I think with Thor, he absolutely never meant to come off that way. Thor loves his brother very much, but he’s used to being the one that’s in charge. He’s the heir to the throne. He’s older. He tells Loki to “know his place” when Loki is trying to talk him down from doing something stupid.

So we come to Loki learning that he’s adopted. Needless to say, this news doesn’t go over very well. And Loki’s reaction is completely understandable. He’s been lied to his whole life. He’s been raised thinking that Frost Giants are barbaric monsters, and then he comes to learn that he is one. As if he doesn’t already feel inferior enough. Now he has to live with the knowledge that he is essentially what all of the people around him hate. He’s not about to forget that one of Thor’s aspirations in life is to hunt and slay Frost Giants. His brother, who he loves more than anyone else. And Odin, rather than own up to all of this, falls into the most convenient Odinsleep of all time, leaving Loki even more alone and confused.

Another scene that should have been in the movie proper was when Loki is actually handed the responsibility of ruling Asgard while Odin’s taking his nap. His talk with Frigga shows his insecurities, his uncertainty, and his reluctance to take on the throne even temporarily. So Loki starts thinking, “Holy shit. I’m king now. I’m king, and I’m a Frost Giant. I’m a Frost Giant and I let other Frost Giants into Asgard to ruin my brother’s coronation. Shit.” Now he has to keep up with the lie, a lie that’s getting bigger and bigger all the time. And when Sif and the Warriors Three come to ask for Thor to be brought back, no, that can’t happen yet. Because it’s not that Loki wants the throne. It’s because now he has to prove himself. He has to prove that he belongs in Asgard, that he can be just as successful as Thor and that he can be a worthy son of Odin. He has to prove to everyone and to himself that he isn’t a monster.

This mess just keeps spiraling out of control until these people that he had called friends go behind his back and against his direct orders to find Thor. And Loki’s desperate at this point, so he sends off the Destroyer, which only cements in the minds of the present Asgardians that he’s evil and awful.

Thor survives and regains his power, and Loki now doesn’t have much time to put his plan into motion. So he brings in the Frost Giants, and he kills his biological father without any concern with the hopes that his actions will please Odin. Thor returns and reveals the plan, and Loki is desperately clinging to tattered strings at this point. He’s willing to destroy an entire realm to gain his father’s good graces. And Thor, who for their entire lives has talked about fighting and war and destroying the Jotuns, is suddenly pleading for them to live.

If Loki had been in a better place, maybe he could have seen this as a sign that Thor won’t hate him. If Thor doesn’t want them all destroyed, maybe he’ll eventually be ok with the fact that Loki is one of them. But Loki’s not in a good place, not in any sort of state where he can hope for something good to come out of this. All he sees is that a mere couple of days on Earth in the presence of a nobody mortal has given Thor a change of heart. Jane Foster has done something that no one else has ever been able to do. She’s made Thor stop and think. This means that he cares for her and respects her to a very high degree. Imagine how that might make Loki feel. Loki has been with Thor for centuries upon centuries, and Thor doesn’t take Loki’s advice. Thor talks down to Loki. But he’s suddenly different because of a mortal girl.

And that’s just about the last straw for Loki. He has tears streaming down his face even as he’s goading Thor into a fight, a fight that he normally would never have attempted. Because Thor is the stronger, the warrior, the better fighter.

Granted, this moment sort of made me laugh more than have sad feels. After they break the Bifröst and Thor traps Loki under Mjölnir, Loki can’t move. He’s stuck. Even magic isn’t going to help him here, so he does the only thing he can. He acts like a little brother and starts taunting Thor. He might as well have been speaking in a high pitched, nasally voice and going “nah nah nah nah naah naaahhh!”

But back to being serious, Thor destroys the Bifröst, and they’re hanging over the abyss, held only by the conveniently appearing Odin’s hold on Thor’s leg. And there’s absolutely no two ways around it now. There’s no way he can twist this in his favor. Loki’s lost and he knows it. So he reacts again in a sort of childlike manner, telling Odin that he totally could have done this. And rather than being a decent parent and telling Loki, “Sure you could, champ,” and getting him up and back home before explaining all the ways he actually screwed this up, Odin pull one of his best moves yet and says, “No.” No. He tells Loki, broken, lost, confused Loki, that he couldn’t have done this while Loki is hanging over the endless expanse of space (I know it’s not really space. The place between worlds, whatever it’s actually called).

And that’s it. Loki doesn’t see how he can ever come back from this. And Thor knows what he’s about to do before he makes the move. Thor begs his little brother to not, but Loki lets go and falls to what they can only assume is his death. And Thor is left hanging there, watching as his little brother falls and falls and disappears.

Now we’ve hit the end of the movie and there’s really not much time left to deal with the fall out. But Loki isn’t given much more than Sif’s halfhearted “Sorry about your kid, Frigga. But I’m kind of bummed that Thor misses him and that mortal girl.” Something I kind of hated was Thor and Odin’s talk at the end. No, Thor, no. You should not want to be a king like Odin. Okay, he’s gotten pretty adamant about keeping peace between worlds in his old age, but look at the mess he caused by simply being a bad parent. Look at what his lies and his neglect did to Loki. Odin is very much responsible for so much of what happens in this movie. So much would have been avoided if he had taken the time to explain Loki’s origins to him, if he wouldn’t have manipulated and kept secrets, if he would have shown Loki some of the love that he showed Thor. Not to excuse all of Loki’s actions, but he didn’t just wake up one day and decide to destroy the world. He was led to this by being grossly mistreated for his entire life.

For his part, I don’t think Thor is all that changed. You don’t lose centuries of your personality in a couple of days. But these are life changing events that he’s gone through. He’s lived on the other side. He’s experienced being weak and powerless. Although I honestly don’t see what was so special about her (not to say I don’t like Jane, I just don’t really see what she did that would have realistically changed Thor), Jane has gotten under Thor’s skin enough that he wants to be a better person, and he’s at least willing to give a tiny bit of thought before charging in and bashing things with the hammer. And now Thor has to live with the guilt of what’s happened to Loki. He was not happy to be fighting with his brother, and he was heartbroken to see Loki give up and let go. He begged Loki to stay, even after what Loki had done and had threatened to do. He had threatened to kill the woman that Thor was falling in love with, and Thor still isn’t so attached and too quickly loyal to her that she trumps his feelings for Loki.

The Avengers movie is going to be a tricky thing, bringing in so many characters and their stories and trying to merge them all in a short time frame. But I really hope they dive into Thor’s guilt regarding Loki (and then that we jump into the deep end with it in Thor 2). Because we see more of the emotion from Loki’s side, which I think is really interesting. Because he’s the villain. We’re supposed to identify more with the hero. But Thor mostly comes across as an arrogant but loveable goofball. But Loki gets all the heart wrenching emotional trauma.

Originally, this was supposed to be a rant about my Thor/Loki feelings, but Loki kind of tends to take over, and I just talk about him a lot. I ship these two pretty hard. I think that deep down, Loki feels like Thor in his life is just about the only good thing he’s got going. To a degree, a lot of what Loki does is sort of acting out like a kid, desperate for attention and approval. And he wants that attention and approval from Thor more than anyone else. And Thor just wants the brother that he knew back. He wants the Loki who wasn’t killing and destroying but just playing some harmless if annoying jokes on people. There’s a very deep attachment between them. No matter how many times Loki causes all this trouble, Thor still forgives him and still wants him around. When Loki is reincarnated as a child, Thor takes him to raise, and he’s extremely protective of him.

And let’s not forget that when Loki went lady, it was Sif’s body. Sif, who in the comics is Thor’s wife. Just sayin’.

EDIT: I just wanted to add, since I think I only mentioned it once up there, I don’t mean to excuse Loki’s actions. He did a lot of terrible, terrible things, both in Thor and the Avengers. And he made the choice to do those things. No one forced him or controlled him (although I am a little bit curious about his treatment under the Chitauri, because he was looking rough and a little bit flinchy). I just wanted to talk about my interpretation of why he might have made those decisions and how, to a degree, I can understand where he’s coming from. 

  1. bewareoftheholger reblogged this from dinolaur and added:
    best character analysis of Loki I’ve ever read. ever! love it
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