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What even is the point of Loki in the Thor movies anymore?

[This post contains SPOILERS for Thor: Ragnarok]

Thor: Ragnarok is the best reviewed Thor movie by a longshot (as of this writing, its RT score sits at 93%). I found the film did a great job of infusing director Taika Waititi’s off-kilter sense of humor into a well-established cinematic brand. You can view my Periscoped thoughts on the film right here.

But one thing nagged at me: What even is the point of Loki in the Thor movies anymore?

While I didn’t think Thor was the greatest Marvel film, one thing it unquestionably accomplished is bringing the Marvel Cinematic Universe its greatest villain: Loki. Hiddleston’s performance as Loki was charming but whiny, vicious but vulnerable. In other words, he was complex. Plus, the conflict between Loki and Thor was genuinely poignant — a Cain and Abel story played out against the massive backdrop of Norse/Marvel mythology.

Perhaps due to the MCU’s inability to consistently generate memorable villains (I dare you to use two adjectives to describe Malekith other than “evil”), the MCU films have clung to Loki as though he’s their lifeblood. He showed up as the villain in The Avengers, then appeared once more in Thor: The Dark World where he betrayed Thor, had a sad goodbye-death-scene, then somehow reappears later impersonating Odin.

In Thor: Ragnarok, Thor discovers Loki lounging around on Asgard as Odin. The two watch their father die, then end up in a crazy situation on the planet Sakaar where Loki again betrays Thor(!) before reuniting with him at the end to save Asgard. On a transport ship at the end of the film, Loki stands by Thor’s side as Thor leads Asgard’s people into the future.

At this point, I posit that Loki’s character has gone through so many twists and turns that it is impossible to attach any stakes to his position. One moment, he’s dead. The next, he’s alive. One moment, he hates Thor. The next, they are taking down Sakaarian guards like they’re playing a video game.

It’s a classic case of trying to extracting too many resources from one character, rendering their presence completely meaningless. I hope the MCU can work on its secondary character game a bit more (to some extent, Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner, who never got his own film, is a pretty good example of what is possible). In the meantime, I’m sad that Loki seems to have befallen the same fate as Miley Cyrus.

  • Luke Griffin

    The way I see it, Loki is a turncoat through and through and does whatever he can to come out on top.

    What I love about him is one moment he could happily live without ever seeing Odin or Thor again, yet when either character rubs his face in this fact, he shows hints or remorse and humanity. However, his devilish trickster ways always trump any bleeding heart sentiments and he’s back to deceiving his family in a heartbeat to get back on top. It will surely happen again with Thanos, with devastating consequences.

  • kamenhaven

    This one’s for your Dave Chen!

    This week, I watched a movie set in a world where gods walked amongst men, and in a universe where Chadwick Boseman plays a major character. Our protagonist god hero, son of the kingdom’s ruler, is defeated by his evil, more powerful older sibling. He loses an eye, is stripped of his godly powers and is banished from his father’s kingdom in the process. During the movie, he gets sage wisdom from an old, white-haired, father-figure type god who takes the form of gold when he dies, and gathers a team of allies to help him, which includes a former goddess who has shunned her godly origins but will redeem herself by using her powers once again to aid our hero as he returns to his Kingdom to reclaim his throne. In the final battle, he rediscovers his true power from within and must face his older sibling in the midst of an impending doom caused by a demonic giant to destroy the planet.

    But enough about Gods of Egypt, guys … let’s talk about Thor: Ragnarok. Boom goes the dynamite!

    • David Chen