Marvel Studios knew Loki could be a great villain for the Marvel Cinematic Universe early on and tasked the Thor team with making him as great a foe as Magneto. One of the biggest criticisms of the MCU has been its villains, and that was especially true early on. While there were a few exceptions, audiences and critics found the antagonists of early MCU films to be one note or lacking proper motivation. That is until Tom Hiddleston's Loki came along.
The brother of Thor and god of mischief, Loki made his debut in the MCU back in 2011. He appeared in Thor, and it didn't take long for Hiddleston's portrayal of the character to pop with audiences. His jealousy over Thor, feeling that he didn't belong due to his Frost Giant roots, and craving to rule all made for a complicated and sympathetic figure. Audiences were pleased to find out at the end of Thor that this wasn't the end of the character either, as he was set up to be the main villain in The Avengers the following year.
The reception to Loki was great, but also more critical to Marvel than many may have previously believed. Thor writer Zack Stentz, who received screenplay credit on the film along with Ashley Miller and Don Payne, was recently a guest on The Fanboy Podcast and revealed that he had special instructions from Marvel Studios to get Loki right. They didn't just want him to be a formidable opponent for Thor and eventually the Avengers, as their goal for Stentz was to turn Loki into as great a villain as X-Men's Magneto. Stentz said:
"It's a complicated issue because we had a very clear mandate when we were writing Thor. They already knew that they were building towards The Avengers and they already had the notion that Loki was going to be the villain. They knew that their villains thus far in the MCU had been a bit underwhelming, and one of the executives literally said, 'Look, if you fail at everything else, give us a villain as good as Magneto in Loki.' We need someone at that level because that’s going to be our villain for The Avengers."
The good news for Stentz, his fellow Thor writers, and Marvel Studios is that they certainly succeeded. Loki has been considered one of the best villains in the MCU since he debuted and ranked highly among all comic book movie foes. In the MCU specifically, he was long thought of as the top villain in the universe, but he got his toughest competition last year with Michael B. Jordan's Killmonger and Josh Brolin's Thanos.
As evil as the earlier version of Loki was, his complicated nature has evolved since then. He transitioned into being more of an antihero in Thor: The Dark World, and became a full-fledged hero by the end of Thor: Ragnarok. Loki even suffered a hero's death in Avengers: Infinity War. These recent appearances have added more layers to Loki than even Marvel may have originally envisioned.
For those who miss the more mischievous days of Loki, they may soon return on Disney+. The streaming service is developing a Loki series that will see Hiddleston reprise his role; and whether it takes place in one of Avengers: Endgame's branched realities or in the past of the main MCU timeline, it is expected to focus on Loki before he realizes he can be a good guy. We could even see more of Loki before these days in Thor that made him the standout he became.
Source: The Fanboy Podcast
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