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Loki: How To Turn A Villain Into A Hero (VIDEO)

Loki: How To Turn A Villain Into A Hero

FandomWire‘s latest Video Essay explains how Marvel turned Loki from a villain into a hero.

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Loki: From Villain To Hero

What is an antihero? At first glance, it’s common to assume this is just another term for a villain; but it’s a bit more complicated than that. The term ‘antihero’ has been around for a long time, dating all the way back to literature from the 18th century. However, it wasn’t until after the 1950s that the typical antihero that we know today would originate. Fast forward into the 20th century, and we have some of the most popular and critically acclaimed TV shows and films centered around antiheroes. As time went on, and the term grew in popularity, antiheroes like Tony Soprano, Walter White, and Dexter Morgan stole the hearts of audiences across the globe. But why? What makes an antihero work so well on screen and in the scripts?

One of the most recent examples of a successful antihero is the MCU’s Loki Laufeyson. Despite his track record on-screen, and the fact that he is the literal God of Mischief, fans keep wanting more of him. This just begs the question: how did Disney and Marvel Studios get us to care so much for Loki, being he’s been a deceitful, backstabbing, villain in nearly every appearance he’s made so far? And why, after all this time, are we rooting so heavily for his redemption?

Tom Hiddleston is the man that would breathe life into the God of Mischief and has grown so fond of the character that he openly expressed his desire to play him forever. Although Tom’s acting career had already been well underway, Loki was his largest and most successful role in the industry, and his fan base grew to astronomical numbers, worldwide. Fans didn’t just fall in love with the character, they fell in love with the person Tom was; on AND off camera.

We’ve covered this idea before when discussing Wanda Maximoff’s arc within the MCU; the success or failure of a character starts with the talent behind them. Tom Hiddleston’s acting career consists of a collection of dramatic performances, each one being clearly parallel to that of his real-world personality. He is brilliantly funny, calmly charismatic, and somewhat mysterious; all things that embody the character of Loki. Ironically, Tom never auditioned for the role of Loki. He had originally auditioned for the role of Thor. However, Thor director Kenneth Branagh, immediately realized that Tom was a better fit for Loki.

Branagh told Entertainment Weekly “Tom has a wild imagination, so does Loki. He’s got a mischievous sense of humor and he was ready to play.”

The two had worked together on different projects prior to Thor, like the TV series Wallander for BBC, and again on a Chekhov play; this seemingly accidental friendship is essentially what solidified his role in the film. Branagh knew who Loki was meant to be, who he is in the comics, and what Hiddleston could offer to meet those standards. Little did they know, it was one of the best casting decisions made in the MCU to date.

Loki’s mission has always seemed clear: he wanted to be king. But… King of what exactly? His losses heavily outweigh his wins, and it seems as though he will never rule the way he intends to. But he wasn’t always like this. As a baby, he was abandoned by his father, Laufey, and the Frost Giants of Jotunheim. There he was… the scared little boy, shivering in the cold; nowhere to go, and no place to call home. Loki was eventually found by Odin himself, and adopted into the family, where he was raised alongside Thor. But the feeling of displacement never left Loki, and this was the foundational trigger for his descent into villainy.

Adoption is often praised as something incredibly respectable and is an act held in high regard. And in many cases it should be; to take children from unfortunate situations and help them become outstanding men and women is commendable. However, what is often not discussed, and should be discussed, is the trauma adoption can incur on a child; and the effects it can have on their emotional and mental state. This idea is applied to Loki, who has always felt deep down that he was not like the others. At his roots, his emotions resemble that of what a human feels, and this part of his story is what created the initial connection between character and audience. The moment that set the stage for this emotional journey was when he confronted Odin about his true biological lineage. Loki’s reaction, and Tom’s performance, made the audience feel something deep for him:

“It all makes sense, now, why you favored Thor all these years,” he says. “Because no matter how much you claim to love me, you could never have a Frost Giant sitting on the throne of Asgard.”

It was this moment that fans held on to any time Loki acted out, understanding that it all stems from the emotional trauma of adoption. He was dismissed, referred to as the God of Mischief and no one really saw anything more than that within him. No one except Thor, that is. Although we are constantly seeing the two go at it, they have real love for one another and have proven that they can make quite the dynamic duo.

Thor has always adored Loki for who he was, ever since childhood. Without Loki, he would be an only child, and we all know what that leads to. Thor often expresses bits about their childhood, getting into some of his fondest memories together. These laughable walks down memory lane, however, shed some insight on the playfulness and the charm of Loki. Despite being a liar, backstabber, and a villain most of the time, the way he is with Thor makes audiences absolutely bypass all of it.

The banter between Thor and Loki is something the MCU writes exceedingly well. And of course, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston played their parts together to absolute perfection. Their acting chemistry made for an excellent display of character development and made it so easy to fall in love with their relationship. We feed off of the emotional energy between Thor and Loki, which radiates right off the screen and directly into our little human hearts.

Thor always dreamed of growing up and fighting alongside Loki for the rest of his life; he is proud to call Loki his brother. By the end of Thor: Ragnorok, it seemed like Loki might’ve finally turned over the right leaf, and the two were set to become one of the most powerful duos the MCU has ever seen. We leave this film feeling good about Loki, seeing he may really have a shot at redemption. However, by the time we see Loki next, we witness his emotionally jarring death; and there was no coming back.

Although the death itself was extremely emotional, we can all agree that the moment that really hit home for fans was what he did right before it. His final mischievous scheme was to swoon Thanos into thinking he was on his side. When proclaiming his loyalty, he refers to himself as “Loki, prince of Asgard…”, and after a brief pause, and one last look into the eyes of his fallen brother, he proudly concludes his title with, “…Odinson.” For what seems like the first time ever, moments before his death, he proudly owns the Odinson name, and this provided a reason for the audience to care for him and mourn his death. After all this time, and his many deceiving deaths, we as the audience knew that this was the end for our beloved antihero. Hearts stopped, heads dropped, and tears flowed; but thank god for time travel, right?

Believe it or not, time travel is what saves Loki’s life; although this was far from the intention. In an attempt to regather the Infinity Stones and get their friends back, the Avengers had to travel to different points in time in different parts of the universe; trippy. One team ended up traveling to New York City in 2012, back when Loki led an alien invasion to take over Earth. At this point in time, the Time, Mind, and Space Stones were in the city, and with careful planning, they got their hands on them all. However, with crappy luck – and a Hulk who hates taking the stairs – the Tesseract, which holds the Space Stone, fell right back into the hands of Loki. With it he escaped, knowing little of the consequences this act would set in motion.

The Loki series is ultimately a character study, answering this central question: what makes Loki tick? That and it was the final piece to the puzzle that is Loki, helping us as fans truly understand who and what he is. After seeing his inevitable death and thinking “there is no way he’s coming back”, it is no wonder the Loki series is the most-watched MCU Disney+ series to date. Not only does it give him a proper comeback, but it provides us, the audience, with a Loki who can fully embrace his path to redemption. We learn that he never WANTED to hurt people or to be the bad guy. And if this wasn’t enough to get fans back on the Loki train, then surely the fact that he now has a LOVE INTEREST will be.

The series did two things for fans: it introduced us to the version of Loki that we hoped and dreamed of, and it peeled back the layers of Loki’s character that we always knew were there but haven’t seen yet. With every new discovery, another mysterious question is born. In the realm of storytelling and character development, Loki is the gift that keeps on giving; and who wouldn’t love that?

It’s been a long and emotional journey for Loki after all these years; his character is complex and riddled with traumas dating back to his birth. Fans hated him, loved him, and now they simply can’t get enough of him. But now we know why. From that devilishly handsome charm to the emotional connections made along the way, it was Loki’s glorious purpose to be adored by Marvel fans. Loki is the product of a good script, and an even better talent uniquely crafted to embody real human emotion in a magical way. What do you think is in store for Loki’s future? Let us know in the comments below. And don’t forget to like, subscribe and hit the notification bell so you never miss a video. I’ll see you next time.

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Written by Reilly Johnson

Reilly Johnson is a businessman, journalist, and a staple in the online entertainment community contributing to some of the largest entertainment pages in the world. Currently, Reilly is the Editor-In-Chief of FandomWire, a subsidiary of Johnson Concepts.