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On Thor and Loki

So your royal highness of nerdiness had the day off and returned to the theater for a second viewing of Thor: The Dark World. Yes, I loved it that much. And yes, I enjoyed just as much the second time as the first. However, this time around after I left the theaters, I got to thinking about our two main male characters. After all, the heart of the story pertaining to Thor has been about Loki ever since The Avengers (I argue that it’s more about Odin and Thor in the first film than Thor and Loki). As a writer, I want to take a second to analyze their dynamic just because I find it so interesting that while Thor is an awesome character and is played by an insanely gorgeous, talented Aussie, Loki is still the more popular character.

Naturally, massive spoilers ahead for Thor: The Dark World.

I mentioned in my review of Thor: The Dark World that I am not a Loki fangirl, and I rather dislike a large portion of that fanbase. I’d like to continue the thought and clarify what I mean when I say that. What I dislike is their blatant disregard for what Loki’s done in favor of defending his actions and chalking his downright evil actions to being ‘misunderstood.’ Loki is definitely misunderstood, but it’s by his own doing. That’s one of the best things about Thor: The Dark World. Loki tried to throw his weak argument in Thor’s face (“Who put me there?” “YOU KNOW DAMN WELL WHO DID!”), and Thor wasn’t having any of that nonsense. We did not get to see Loki and Thor grow up. Thus, there is no excuse for anyone to say that Odin was a “bad father” and that’s why Loki turned out the way he did. We have implications that Thor was favored because he’s handsome and strong, but it is quite clear that Thor, Frigga, and Odin cared for Loki as he grew up.

Odin handled this beautifully in the beginning of The Dark World by also smashing Loki’s dumb logic to bits. Loki tried to claim that his birthright was to be a king, and Odin put him in his place by explaining that he’d be dead if Odin hadn’t saved him that cold night in Jotunheim. Loki glossed over an entire childhood and adulthood life of being a prince of Asgard just because he felt he deserved to be king instead of Thor. Yes, he’s probably a bit mad in the head and yes, we all know what it’s like to be envious, but that does not excuse him from trying to exterminate the Frost Giants nor does it absolve him for his crime of coming to earth, killing dozens of people, and trying to enslave mankind. There. I said it. Come at me, bro. Er, gal. Whatever.

Having said all of that, now that I’ve seen Thor, The Avengers, and Thor: The Dark World, I think I finally understand Loki’s appeal. For the longest time, I didn’t get it. Seriously. Now, I got the appeal of Tom Hiddleston. I mean, Christ. He is literally the nicest man who ever lived. He’s insanely intelligent, well read, funny, charming, sweet, and dorky as all get out. He has an incredibly sexy voice. Plus, he’s British. He’s British, guys. Come on. How can you not fall in love with those big blue eyes? But Loki I never could grasp the concept of why an entire legion of panties fell before him after The Avengers. That is, until Thor: The Dark World. For me, I understand it now that Loki has had a full character arc. I feel that his arc was incomplete as of The Avengers, but now that his character has been fully explored, I can understand the somewhat twisted mentality that makes people, particularly girls, favor him over Thor.

First, I’ll explain how I came to this conclusion as a girl. As much as I hate 50 Shades of Grey, E. L. James did nail one concept when it comes to the fairer sex: we effing love bad boys. Granted, Loki is more a bad man than a bad boy, but go with me on this one. I of course do not speak for all women. I would never dare do such a thing. However, from my own experience, I do have a thing for naughty haughty fictional men. In real life, I opt for sweet, funny, nerdy guys, but in my fiction, I can’t help but love the jerks. I think Loki is more popular than Thor with the ladies because many of us have dull, unspectacular lives and it’s so much more fun to imagine what it would be like if you could have a roll in the hay with the god of mischief.

Loki is cruel and vain and unpredictable. He’s a sadist. He’s a self-destructive bastard. It would be literally impossible to come up with a scenario where he’d even think about sleeping with a human woman (sorry, ladies, nothing personal but don’t forget Loki is racist as in he thinks the entire human race is beneath him), but you can’t help yourself imagining that the hell that would be like. You probably wouldn’t survive the encounter, but it’d probably be worth it. Power is attractive. Corrupt power can be even more attractive. It’s the thrill of the forbidden, I suppose, and also the fleeting thought that maybe we could be the one to melt the ice. Not that we’d want Loki to change after being with us, but rather, we’d be the one girl that he’d show his softer side to at the end of the day. Er, that’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, but you get my point right? After The Dark World, to me, there is proof of something noble inside of Loki. He is still manipulative and treacherous and cruel, but we saw a flicker of something else inside him. That flicker is something a lot of girls can’t resist.

Second, I’ll explain how I came to this conclusion as a fan of great writing. Loki has evolved through these three films as much as Thor did, in my opinion. To me, he might have still had a chance for redemption in Thor, but by the time we hit Avengers, the Loki of the past was long gone. As charming as I find him on occasion, the guy came to earth to enslave us all. He killed people and enjoyed it. Sorry, but that’s inexcusable. They made a Hitler parallel on purpose, dammit. Loki deserved every single beating he got by the end of Avengers. However, The Dark World did me one better by having Loki skate between being a monster and being an intriguing yet dark character. I love the grey area when it pertains to the soul. I love that I’ve read things and watched things where good men do horrific things and bad men do noble things. Hell, it’s the subject of both of my upcoming novels. I love that Loki straddled the fence between good and evil in this film. I think he genuinely mourned the loss of his mother. I think he genuinely wanted to save Thor, even though he used it as a ploy to fake his own death. I think it’s fantastic that they decided to show us both sides of him and allowed us to choose which one we think he might be. That is the mark of a well written character. We know a lot about him, but just enough for him to still be mysterious and unpredictable.

Now, having said all of that, I still love Thor as much as Loki. My reasoning is that Thor and Loki are more than just hunky fictional bad asses. They represent two sides of a coin. Thor is courageous, self-sacrificing, kind, and responsible. Loki is selfish, reckless, conniving, and nefarious. Thor is the kind of man you want to spend the rest of your life with, the kind of man you want to have four hundred babies with, the kind of man who will honor and respect you until the end of your days because that’s what you deserve. Loki is the kind of man who you want to throw you over his shoulder, make off with you, do unspeakable things to you in the bedroom, and then go on about your life. Thor and Loki are complete opposites, but I think that’s why they resonate with us fangirls a little more than some of the other Avengers and their supporting casts. Don’t get me wrong—I would kill to come home to Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Clint Barton, or Bruce Banner—but while those wonderful characters have so much to offer us, I think Thor and Loki hit a soft spot with the female gender because of their interesting dynamic. It’s exactly why there have been so many hilarious posts on Tumblr comparing the duo to Tulio and Miguel from The Road to El Dorado. One is the sarcastic one with all the plans and the other is the total sweetheart. At the end of the day, who can resist that? Certainly not this fangirl.

Odin bless you for reading this rambling bunch of nonsense. Maybe I’m on my own for this one, but it’s still nice to live in a world where such excellent characters exist and continue to kick ass for our benefit. Marvel, ya done good. Keep it up. Excelsior.

Kyoko