If some of the fan backlash to this year's biggest box office success so far, Iron Man 3, tells us anything, it's that the villain of a movie is often just as important, if not more so, than the hero. After all, there's not much point in having incredible powers if there aren't any worthy opponents to use them against.
One of the most popular villains to emerge from the Marvel cinematic universe so far has been Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, who was the main villain of both Thor and The Avengers and somehow managed to survive both movies in order to apparently become a reluctant ally in Thor: The Dark World.
Fans who were expecting further mischief and mayhem in The Avengers 2 may be disappointed to hear that they'll have to do without the mischief. Joss Whedon appeared as a guest on last week's Empire Film Podcast, and was asked about a specific moment in The Avengers when Loki delivers a searing speech to Black Widow that culminates in him calling her a "mewling quim," Whedon firmly replied he wasn't interested in repeating himself in the sequel:
"Imitating what I did before is the surest way to do it not as well. Second of all... Loki is not there to say those terrible things."
This news could (and probably will) be taken as a hint that Loki will not survive the events of Thor: The Dark World, especially since, in the trailer, Thor promises to kill his adopted brother when Loki inevitably betrays him. This could also tie in to what we've heard about Thor: The Dark World being a story of redemption for Loki, and redemption stories have a habit of ending badly for the redeemed.
Within the context of the shared Marvel universe, however, there's no reason to assume that Loki's absence in The Avengers 2 is an inherent indication of his death in Thor: The Dark World. It would be near impossible for Whedon to include every main or supporting character from each of the movie universes that he's going bringing together, and since Loki already had his chance in the spotlight as the villain of The Avengers, he may have simply been benched for the next team-up. Since elements from the Thor franchise were the most significant driving force behind the plot of The Avengers, it's likely that the sequel will change things up with the introduction of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.
Whedon also indicates in the podcast that he doesn't like to kill characters off lightly. When asked whether he has the same inclination towards torturing or killing off his characters as George R.R. Martin, author of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series upon which Game of Thrones is based, Whedon says that while he intends to "squeeze" the Avengers in the next film, he's never had any particular urge to hurt or kill his characters:
"It's why Buffy was the least frightening horror show ever, because I don't find people to be expendable... I believe that my work exists for other reasons... I haven't seen Game [of Thrones], so I don't know how the way in which he does it. I'm just like, "Keep killing them. If you and Robert Kirkman can just carry the banner and let me rest, that would be great."
Whedon was naturally on his guard about revealing specific plot details (he jokes that he's taken to karate-chopping anyone who asks him questions about Quicksilver), but he did reveal one very slim sliver of a hint when asked about the fine-tuning that the script requires:
"There's some science in it, which means I have scenes where someone says, 'Science the sciencey science!' And then I'm like, 'I'll fix that later.'"
Are you disappointed that Loki won't be returning, or would you have been more disappointed if he had? Let us know your theories on what might happen in Thor: The Dark World and The Avengers 2 in the comments.
Thor: The Dark World is out in theaters on November 8, 2013, with The Avengers 2 following much later on May 1, 2015.