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To Better Know a Villain: Loki

LokiSimonson

Real Name
Loki Laufeyson

First Appearance
Venus #6, August 1949 (historical); Journey into Mystery #85, October 1962 (modern).

Powers and Abilities
Loki is an accomplished sorcerer, capable of using magic to shapeshift, teleport, fly, generate energy blasts, ensorcell individuals, and more. Additionally, like most Asgardians, Loki possesses super-strength, durability, and longevity.

He also has a genius-level intellect and is an adept liar and manipulator, capable of conceiving and enacting elaborate, multi-layered schemes.

Friends and Allies
The Enchantress, Skurge the Executioner, Fenris Wolf, Hela, and the Midgard Serpent, Tumblr.

Foes and Antagonists
Thor, Odin, Sif, the Warriors Three, Balder, the truth, the Avengers.

Movies and Multimedia Appearances
Loki has made occasional appearances in various animated series and video games through the years, including Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, and was a recurring villain in the late, lamented Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes animated series. He plays a similar role in the current Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers Assemble cartoons.

Animated Loki

And, of course, he is portrayed by Tom Hiddleston in the Marvel Studios films, including Thor and The Avengers.

LokiMovie

One Sentence Origin
Born the son of a Frost Giant but raised by Odin as a brother to Thor, Loki uses his considerable skill for lying and manipulation to work his way into a position of power and destroy his hated brother.

Memorable Moment
Thor #353: Breaking a non-agression pact he’d signed with Surtur (because he ultimately wants to rule Asgard, not destroy it), Loki fights alongside his father and brother against the powerful fire demon.

LokiMoment

Fun Fact
Following the seeming destruction of the Asgardians, Loki was reincarnated in the body of a woman, Thor’s one-time lover Sif. Later, after sacrificing himself to save Asgard, he is reincarnated once more, this time as a young boy.

LadyLokiKid Loki

Arguably, no character has had their profile, relative to its original position within the comic book universe, elevated by the recent slate of Marvel Studios films higher than Loki. Certainly, within the comics, Loki has been a significant and recurring character almost since the dawn of the Marvel Universe as we know it in the 1960s, and no villain can stake a larger claim to the title of Thor’s chief arch-nemesis than Loki. But outside the confines of Thor’s title, Loki’s profile isn’t quite as high. Villains like Dr. Doom and Magneto consistently overshadow him, and even Norman Osborn, the erstwhile Green Goblin, had a lengthy run as the chief villain of the Marvel Universe. Loki’s biggest claim to fame has long been his responsibility for the creation of the Avengers. In the comics, the Avengers first come together in response to a scheme hatched by Loki to attack his brother, then decide to stick together after Loki is defeated.

But despite his pivotal role in their creation, one is hard-pressed to call Loki even a significant Avengers villain. After that first adventure, he returned to bedevil them on occasion (including in the classic “Avengers/Defenders War” storyline), but such instances were few and far between, and usually saw the villain acting through intermediaries (even his grandest attack on the Avengers, the 1989 linewide “Acts of Vengeance” crossover, found Loki in disguise for most of the storyline, working through proxies who believed they were the true masterminds of the scheme – true to Loki’s character, but not exactly a profile-elevating move). Yet to a generation of moviegoers, Loki is unquestionably the chief adversary of the Avengers and one of Marvel’s A-List villains, and that’s due entirely to his role within Marvel Studio’s cinematic universe.

Much of the credit goes to actor Tom Hiddleston, who manages to strike the right balance of menace, charm, vindictiveness and relatability in his on-screen performance of Loki. In his hands, the character is part Hannibal Lecter (cunningly evil), Darth Vader (angry yet conflicted), and Hans Gruber (charming and scheming), capable of going toe-to-toe with his superhero counterparts in a way the comic book version of the character rarely is. Hiddleston is a revelation as the character, and it is a role the actor clearly relishes playing, making it easy for the Marvel Studios producers to justify the character’s continued presence in the films.

However, when it came time for The Avengers, it was probably tempting to use a different villain, an Ultron or Kang or a rudimentary Masters of Evil, a flashier villain with a greater claim to the title of the the team’s archnemesis. Instead, the decision was made to cast Loki as the central villain of the film, making him responsible for the formation of the team just as in the comics, and by sticking to the source material, Loki was given his breakout following his appearance in Thor, creating in the process a fan favorite character whose popularity (as evidenced by the countless pieces of fan art, cosplayers and Tumblrs dedicated to the character) now casts him in the upper echelon of Marvel villains, thus giving the origin of the cinematic Avengers an entertaining and worthwhile adversary on a scale far beyond the one faced by their comic book counterparts.


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