When it comes to all things Asgardian in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we fall into the same sort of issues that Marvel’s comic book universe has always had to contend with. First of all, this pantheon of Norse gods and goddesses have over a thousand years of history before the very first appearance of Thor in 1962’s Journey Into Mystery #83.
When Jack Kirby and Stan Lee started putting their own stamps on this adaptation of the old legends, many liberties were taken. Over the decades, hundreds of creators added and subtracted powers, character development, and other elements which would alter the overall persona of these vaunted figures. Loki is no exception in this convoluted process. These issues eventually went beyond the comics and seeped into the films. It’s all part of some very common geek debates which could apply to any character.
What are Loki’s powers? What is his true history? How physically strong is he? Is he really as evil as he seems? Once we start thinking more closely about Loki, inconsistencies begin to emerge about the Old Trickster God. Whether it’s the product of lazy writing, miscommunication between continuity gatekeepers, or just plain people making things up as they go along, it’s pretty clear that Loki ends up being misunderstood not only by Odin, but by audiences as well. This does seem strangely fitting for the God of Mischief.
Ready to question everything you think you know about Thor’s sort-of-brother? Here are 20 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Loki!
Possibly the most satisfying moment in the very first Avengers movie was when, near the end, Hulk confronts Loki. The evil god starts making a speech about how much more superior he is, how he will not allow his lessers to push him around, and then Hulk pummels him into pulp. It was an awesome scene, one of those times that an instant resolution worked perfectly.
When we step back to think about it, Loki really is a god. Sure, Hulk is "the strongest one there is." But clever Loki could have created illusions, influenced Hulk’s weak mind, or even just step out of the way. Instead, we see brute force take down a guy who somehow survived falling into a black hole at the end of Thor and was wily enough to strike a bargain with Thanos. Not so believable now, is it?
One of Loki’s most potent magical abilities is his uncanny talent for shape-shifting into other forms. In the comics, he’s been able to disguise himself as mist, and in the movies, he passed himself of as none other than Odin. In the comics, he goes a little bit further by fully being reborn as a woman after an untimely demise. Loki’s not just any old woman – he inhabits the body of Lady Sif, who has been Thor’s on-again, off-again gal-pal.
Let’s not forget that Thor himself was a woman for quite some time in the comics cannon. As gender-fluidity continues to be explored in popular culture, twists like this only give creators and fans more to work with.
Right after the opening act of Thor: Ragnarok, after the Thunder God’s dispatching of the fire demon Surtur, the blond brawler returns to Asgard to reunite with his dad Odin, the king of the Asgardian pantheon. The one-eyed ruler is acting like an overindulgent teenager. Surrounded by servants almost literally peeling grapes for him, it’s obvious he’s getting into some serious hedonism. Not only that, he’s erected a glorious statue of Loki and enjoying a play about how awesome Loki is.
Naturally, Thor sees through this ruse: that’s not Odin, that’s Loki in disguise. How do a whole bunch of gods not see through this?
In Thor: Ragnarok, the fiery deity Surtur ultimately fulfilled prophecy and burned Asgard down to the ground. It was not so in the unforgettable 1980s comics run by legendary artist/writer Walter Simonson. In that story arc, Odin needed to combine his own powers with that of his sons, Thor and Loki, to defeat the monster. While ostensibly a noble act, the trickster made no bones about his motivations: saving his own skin. After all, the end of all things would include him!
In the final confrontation, Thor declared: “For Odin!” Odin declared: “For Asgard!” And Loki smugly added: “For myself!” Even if it’s just for convenience’s sake, Loki isn’t always all bad.
When weighing the virtues and shortfalls of mystical conjurers, many factors have to be taken into consideration. While Doctor Strange is known as “the master of the mystic arts,” for example, he’s obviously been bested more than a few times. Now Loki should be higher in those rankings, but in a 1970s story arc which crossed over between Avengers and Defenders comics, it turns out he was far weaker than we would have thought.
The ruler of the Dark Dimension, and Doctor Strange’s nemesis, Dormammu, overpowered Loki-- and by a lot. Despite first working as allies, the Dreaded One easily dispatched the Asgardian when he had outlived his usefulness, even blinding him. While Loki seems like he should be a heavy-hitter in the magic god biz, he is clearly not.
Royal families are funny constructs. Over the eons, they have employed familial relationships in ways modern folk would find distasteful. Marriages of conveniences are common, even between adversaries, as a means of preserving peace. Close relatives often marry, and in rarer occasions, complete outsiders are brought into the regal court as equals. The Biblical tale of Moses is one such example, as the Pharaoh took in an orphan baby from the reeds to raise as his own. So it was with Loki.
Odin found the abandoned son of the king of the Frost Giants, Laufey, only to take him and adopt him as the brother of his own biological son, Thor. In adulthood, he is elevated to prince, and even vies for the throne. As far as we know, he is the only Asgardian who does not in fact share that divine blood, and yet he can technically rule over them all!
There is much to be said for a mother’s love. While Loki’s many shenanigans over the centuries endangered Asgard and infuriated Odin, the Queen Frigga, always had a soft spot for this problem child. During the events of the first Thor film, Odin falls into the “Odinsleep,” a periodic regenerative process which leaves the one-eyed god unconscious, vulnerable, and unable to perform his functions as head of state for an extended time.
Who does Frigga appoint as temporary ruler of Asgard while Odin slumbers? Loki, of course. Overlooking his dangerous misdeeds, and ignoring obvious better choices, she gives the keys to the kingdom to her own bad boy.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is not well known for taking especially progressive stances. The LGBT representation in its big-screen offerings is really out of step with our modern world. In Thor: Ragnarok, audiences might catch an implication that Valkyrie had been in a relationship with another woman. There are subtler hints when it comes to Loki’s orientation – but it may well be coming down the line.
In the comics, it has already been established that Loki doesn’t seem to have a solid gender preference. We can no longer state with confidence that the God of Mischief is straight, a fact that millions of male Tom Hiddleston fans may rejoice over.
In some ways, Loki can often be his own worst enemy. Throughout the events of Thor: Ragnarok, he seems to be playing both sides of a very dangerous game. First, when he’s pretending to be the benevolent Odin, and later, when he sides with the unpredictable and powerful Grandmaster. Eventually, he even he toys with the events which lead to Ragnarok.
He's ostensibly allied with Thor in the defense of Asgard, but we need to wonder why he doesn’t more forcibly employ his magic and powers of deception to address the situation with Hela. After all, if he’s powerful enough to retrieve Surtur’s crown and wily enough to pretend to be Odin, he should be maniacal enough to take on the Queen of the Underworld. But he doesn’t, and Asgard fell.
One of the sad core features of Loki’s backstory is the fact that he was abandoned by his own father because he was born a runt. Unlike the vast majority of his Frost Giant brethren, the Trickster God is only about the height of an average human being. For that “handicap,” he is rejected.
Does it make sense that he wouldn’t actually be taller than a human, even as a “dwarf giant?” After all, these guys are over 40 feet tall. If Loki was only, say, 10 or 15 feet tall, he would still be considered kind of short by Frost Giant standards.
From the very first minutes of the first Thor movie, we are introduced to basically a frat boy version of the God of Thunder. Strutting down the throne room like the most popular kid in school, he irreverently twirls his hammer, acting way too cool for school. In fact, he’s downright unlikeable! This is so much so the case that his arrogance spurs Odin to banish him and take his powers away so he can learn a lesson.
It’s not too much of a jump to believe that Thor probably spent his childhood being an overbearing big brother to his kid brother Loki. Surely, Loki’s jealousy of Thor was in part fueled by Thor’s own behavior, in effect sowing the seeds for their conflict as adults.
Loki starts life out as a Frost Giant runt who obviously does not wield the considerable power inherent in that robust race. Since we established that he has no Asgardian blood in his veins, he also fails to receive the benefits of possessing that strain of gods’ attributes. Frigga, in her infinite empathy and compassion for the forlorn deity, teaches him magic so that at least he has some advantage while navigating the higher realms he lives in.
One of the primary motivations for this decision Frigga makes is to give Loki a fighting chance to deal with his lout of a brother, Thor! Again, it looks like a whole lot of “supreme beings” ended up creating some awful nemeses.
When all is said and done, it is fair to ask a simple question: is Loki really any different that most of us? We all want to be loved. We all want to belong. We all want to feel successful. Chronicling all the cards stacked against Loki’s early development, it’s no wonder he revolts against the authority figures who have made his life miserable. Of course, we don't all try to take over entire worlds.
Still, Loki has many moments when he seeks to make better decisions, and as of Avengers: Infinity War, may have even made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of good. Seeing this struggle between his angelic and devilish natures makes him much more complex than your average supervillain.
Not to blame Thor for all of Asgard’s problems, but once again, we need to revisit how the God of Thunder’s arrogance actually made Loki a tougher adversary to beat. Look at the first Avengers movie. There, Thor seems to recapture the escaped Loki a little too easily, locking him up in a S.H.I.E.L.D Hellicarrier prison he should have known would be easy for him to escape from. Later, in Thor: Dark World, our hero’s missteps in protecting Jane Foster cause him to release Loki from his prison against Odin’s orders, once again unleashing the unpredictable trickster into the Nine Realms.
Over and over, either by traumatization or by design, Loki gets stronger thanks to Thor’s hubris.
In the convoluted and confusing past that made Loki into who he has become, Odin certainly played a part. The fact is, that the one-eyed god kept a crucial secret from Loki for his whole life: that he’s not really Asgardian. Due to Thor’s confrontation with Laufey, and subsequent banishment by Odin, Loki finally finds out who he really is. And it kind of breaks his brain.
His own family has been lying to him his whole life. His true heritage torments his mind into rebelling against pretty much any authority figure he comes across. It probably made him insecure enough he felt he had to control all around him to be safe.
Once Loki is soundly defeated after the events of the first Avengers movie, he is relegated to imprisonment in the dungeons of Asgard. This was the judgment of Odin and thus it should have remained. hen came Frigga again with her motherly love.
She visits him in jail, offers her compassion, and even brings him some books to read. Even though he partially rejects her, all this love and assistance is enough for Loki to keep himself going during his punishment and even become valuable to Thor as an ally. If you enjoy Loki's role in the MCU, you have Frigga to thank. And if he has chosen ultimately to be on the side of good – she had a hand in his conversion.
When we think of the gods of Asgard, we think of armies serving noble causes. Odin famously made war on other realms which threatened eternal peace. Thor is an iconic fighter and loves to show it off. Then there are the Sif and the Warriors Three, sharing their descriptive honorific with pride. The Valkyrie is no slouch herself, readily dispatching enemies. As for Loki, yes, he can hold his own in a fight, but that’s not his main gig.
After a life surrounded by figures more powerful than him, often subject to their will, he developed craftiness as a means of getting by. He doesn’t want to fight, he just wants to live. Even ruling Asgard is about the preservation of his ego. This god is a survivor.
Besides surviving, there is one thing that can be said to motivate Loki: he loves to mess with people. It’s not just a way to stay alive for him. He seems to truly relish playing pranks, manipulating others and ultimately outsmarting all those rivals who in a one-on-one battle would clearly knock him out.
He laughs about his misdeeds, and is jovial in his victories. Even in Thor: Ragnarok, when he’s posing as Odin, he is just having way too much fun. The whole thing is hilarious to him. Pulling a fast one on everybody else is the kind of thing that makes him get out of bed every morning.
Over the course of his several MCU film appearances, we have seen Loki chase a lot of different goals. Defeating Thor was always one of his guiding stars. Then he felt like he had to reclaim his birthright as a Frost Giant. Allying himself with Thanos was quite the ploy to gain a world. Then there was betraying Odin, betraying the Grandmaster, and even, in many ways, betraying himself.
What could possibly make this guy feel fulfilled in life? He seems to have tried all manner of schemes to settle his soul on a path of self-actualization, only to do a full 180, time and time again. He may well be insatiable and ultimately too miserable to ever achieve true happiness.
When looking at all the back and forth of Loki’s trails, tribulations, misdeeds, and ultimate redemption, one unexpected thing emerges: Thor has been the eventual beneficiary of all of the drama he has generated. In many cases, Loki gave his adopted brother many opportunities to prove himself worthy to Odin.
In Thor: Dark World, Thor: Ragnarok, and Avengers: Infinity War, he is even in open alliance with Thor, ensuring many chances for success for the Thunder God. Could it be that deep down inside, he wants Thor to beat him? He wants to serve as a sort of instigator for Thor to better himself? Whatever the case, that’s the result, and so maybe he’s a very good sibling to have after all.
What else does everyone get wrong about Loki? Let us know in the comments!