Ever since The Avengers and the previews for Thor: The Dark World, one particular comic character has gotten more attention than anyone else. And, it might just surprise you to know that the character in question is none other than Loki.
Yes, Loki – the Norse god of trickery and mischief has captured the hearts of fans across the globe. He first appeared in Thor where he straddled the line between tragic antihero and tormentor, and then he pulled out all the stops in The Avengers when attempting to subjugate the Earth.
Beaten and humiliated once more, he surfaced in the Thor 2 trailer, as a seeming ally. Of course, we know better, don’t we? Or do we?
How can a villain, easily personified as a petulant whelp upon initial impressions, be so popular?
Why do we love Loki more than Thor, Captain America or even Tony Stark? And what’s truly going on underneath all the angst? Is there more?
Anyone attempting to scratch the surface of the rabid fandom tends to point the finger not so much at the Loki factor but the Hiddleston factor. Tom Hiddleston has excellently portrayed the iconic god of mischief and mayhem consistently.
With Hiddleston at the helm, Loki isn’t a maniacal villain so much as he is a flawed super being – a broken man – and this, as you can imagine, makes the villain just a little more complex.
However, fan girls aren’t screaming for Hiddleston on Tumblr and Facebook – they are clearly screaming for Loki. So, we’re back where we started – just what is it about this abusive, egotistical, scrawny, pale god that fans can’t get enough of?
Loki is a bad boy and bad boys are fun to watch. Bad boys are nothing new and television shows pretty much feature antiheroes or even antagonists as the focus, Loki is just the latest.
As a bad boy, he’s always lying in wait for an opportunity to strike at his enemies and, when things are going his way, he is the embodiment of poise and confidence. These are attractive qualities but they obscure the underlying madness inherent to the character.
Loki is broken. He’s damaged by his past and a legacy marked by unrealized ambition and failure. The harder he tries, the harder he falls. That is both a relatable and endearing quality to the character. He is a man ruled by his own misery, which largely stems from a dark past.
Anyone who has seen Thor knows about Loki’s troubled history. He grew up in his loving brother’s shadow, he was never good enough for his father and, oh yeah, he’s not even a real Asgardian – he’s adopted.
These are all things we, the audience, can relate to and it makes Loki a much more charming villain. Add to that, the fact that he endeavors and struggles to achieve, and yet always fails – he almost seems pitiful.
You see it in the newer films where it almost seems as if Loki exists for the sole purpose of being beaten by the good guys. His vision far extends beyond his reach and, while he may start strong, he always suffers some kind of massive fall. He’s punished for wanting more and not knowing any other way to get it than through violence and tyranny.
The reason so many fans are attracted to Loki over, say, Thor is because you see both halves – the vulnerability and the violence – sometimes clashing in the same scene and, for every monstrous act of violence, there is that flicker of something familiar.
Unlike Thor, who is a decidedly benevolent warrior, Loki not only executes evil agendas – he believes he is the one at odds with the world. As far as looks go, you could argue that Chris Hemsworth’s Thor tops the Hiddleston Loki every time, but attraction is about more than just looks.
In five minutes, Loki can make you feel sympathy mixed with dread. Hiddleston is able to balance both extremes to create a pitiable and weak god that we can all, in some small way, feel for.
So, what does the future hold for Loki? Will he truly help his brother, Thor, in the fight against the dark elves – a seeming mutual enemy? Or will he live up to his role as a backstabber and a coward? Obviously, no one has really said anything, but when asked about the role, Hiddleston expressed his interest in exploring the character’s motivations further.
Despite his capacity for cruelty, Loki never really seems aware of it. He doesn’t wake up and decide to be evil – he wakes up and does whatever he thinks he needs to do to secure his position and livelihood. Hiddleston wants to explore that mix of villainy and victim in the sequel.
Of course, Loki is a trickster, and perhaps it’s being able to display that disarming quality of vulnerability that actually makes him even more dangerous. “Loki’s the god of mischief,” said Hiddleston in an interview. “So I don’t think good behavior is part of his remit.”
We’ll just have to wait and see.