As Thor: Ragnarok approaches, I’ve been contemplating the evolution of Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Of all the current players, he possesses the largest range to his character arc. His complexities lend to our fascination with him, an intrigue that stems as far back as his Norse origins.
Take the following ten archetypes, for example. Most characters lend themselves to two at most. Yet, Loki has filled the skin of more than half.
Villain – We’ll start with the obvious. He’s proven himself a threat and source of conflict for the heroes and, at times, even himself.
Trickster – He manages this in all three films. It’s in his nature.
Shapeshifter – Not in his usual, literal sense, but in the way he tiptoes the line between villain and hero. Which brings me to…
Hero – Say what you want about his mischief, but he risked his life in both Thor movies and protected other characters without expecting recognition. That’s heroic, especially given that most of them despise him.
Ally – Is he mad when he joins forces with Thor in The Dark World? Possibly. But the fact remains, truly desperate or not, Thor depended on Loki.
Herald – You can credit Loki as the catalyst that inspired Nick Fury and crew to finally form the Avengers. This is true in the films, as well as the comics.
What is left for Loki to explore in Thor: Ragnarok? What twists can his character take? What changes will Tom Hiddleston make?
Mentor – He’s yet to serve as adviser. Admit it; you’d attend a class for Loki’s Lessons.
Guardian – This role feels too stationary for Loki. Could he remain trapped by duty? My guess is no.
Innocent – Even as a child, this was not true. Unless they pull a memory loss stint (PLEASE, NO) slim chance in this transformation.
That said, let’s look at the film transformations of our favorite anti-hero.
In Thor—a Shakespeareanesque tale of fathers, sons, and brothers—this second son begins as a subtle trickster, ruining his brother’s big day with a prank gone wrong. Armed with his silver tongue, his mischief launches a chain of events that lead him from sulking sibling to heartbroken child to patricidal madman, only to drop back into the desperate boy seeking his father’s approval.
Avengers brought us a villainous Loki, one fully embracing the chaos. Spurred by the events in Thor, he masterminds a series of destruction that even he questions before the end. A skilled puppet master, he manipulates our heroes, arranging his own capture and the separation of the team. When Thor points out the true damage of Loki’s actions, a sliver of vacillation filters through his conflicted eyes. A single tear escapes as he returns to bitter brother, lashing out in defiance of his reservations. A move that lands him Hulk-smashed and homebound.
Loki starts off petty and toxic-tongued in The Dark World, and no one feels the devastating impact more than his beloved mother. His wicked words galvanize a dire depression and prompt him to join forces with the brother he swore to hate. Loki’s redemption-seeking alliance inspires the heroic protection of his brother, the realm they love, and the people within it. But by film’s end, he proves himself ever the deceiver as the presumed dead hero smiles from his father’s throne.
All this leaves me wondering where Loki can go from here. He’s nearly covered the spectrum. What is left for him to accomplish? What new angle can be seen? Since I avoid spoilers like the plague, I’ve no idea what’s in store for the God of Mischief. Admittedly, I’ve had my tickets since September 7th, so I think it’s safe to say I’m eager to see.
What direction do you think the character will take? Message me or leave your answer in the comments.