“Hurts, Doesn’t It? Being Lied To. Being Told You’re One Thing And Then Learning It’s All A Fiction.” This was an exchange between Loki and Thor during one of the more emotional scenes between the two brothers while on Sakaar. This simple yet poignant quote holds a lot more depth than it shows on the surface, much like Loki’s character.
There is this image we have in our heads of the God of Mischief— greasy hair, gleaming eyes looking to make trouble, a set of daggers and a standard green robe. We saw him on our screens about a decade ago in Thor during the advent of the first phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now, a decade later, he still remains one of the most magnificently dextrous and complex characters we have come to love, portrayed brilliantly by Tom Hiddleston.
The History—Hilariously Humane
Loki was introduced to us as Thor’s crafty, deceitful and jealous little brother who grew up in his big brother’s shadow and wanted to step out of it and make a name for himself. He was always envious of the fact that Thor was meant to be king while he would remain the second and the unwanted child of the great Odin and Frigga. This sibling rivalry we see in the first movie sets in motion the series of events that leads us to the Endgame and even more daunting things in the show Loki itself.
In The Avengers, Loki is seen to take measures to step out of his brother’s shadows. He partners with Thanos to take over the Earth to fulfil his ‘glorious purpose.’ We see how multifarious his character is as Tom Hiddleston takes on the mantle of the villain. It is towards the end of the movie that we see the split in the timeline of the Loki we’ve come to understand and the variant Loki who faces his own compelling journey, which we will touch upon in a minute.
One of the reasons why we have come to love Loki is because he feels tragic and misunderstood. Loki was not born devious, but he certainly was brought up in an environment where all he could do is think of his own survival no matter what the cost.
When in Thor the Darkworld, Odin reveals that Loki is the son of Laufey, king of the Frost Giants of Jotunheim, he is understandably angry and feels betrayed. At this moment, he is like a scared child-albeit an articulate and perceptive child who feels like his father never loved him. Or in Ragnarok, when Loki becomes an unlikely hero by doing everything in his power to stop Hela, as far as going to unleash Surtur to protect the Asgardians. This and many such instances make fans understand Loki in a more human sort of way. His complexity and rational behaviour in the many situations he is thrown into never fail to astound or garner admiration.
Loki is undoubtedly devious; we have seen it many times throughout the years. One of the most noteworthy ones was during the Infinity War when he almost tricked Thanos into giving him the fake infinity stone. Still, somehow, this effort shot back at him, resulting in his demise.
The Show — Sophisticatedly Sublime
Loki begins with the titular character’s story right after the battle of New York in 2012. This mishap in the timeline is caused during the time-heist performed by the Avengers in Endgame due to a non calculated small error that everyone failed to notice. Loki — the one from the New York incident somehow gets away with the whole ordeal of going through the trail or being sentenced to the Asgardian dungeons. He escapes with the Tesseract to the Gobi Desert to proclaim his sovereignty where he is found as a variant by the TVA and starts his journey into a world of the unknown that plays at our heartstrings right from the first episode.
Tom Hiddleston is as good as ever playing Loki, the Prince of Asgard who finds himself a long way from home, yet again. But that doesn’t stop him from serving up his usual helping of charm and cheeky demeanour that we’ve come to expect from him.
This Loki who hasn’t yet gone through the deeds of the Loki from the former half of the MCU has not had the time to see any errors in his ways. The headstrong decisions Loki makes, the allegiances he changes and the new alliances he makes form a very entertaining centrepiece for the show. His engaging screen presence, witty quips and savvy charm make us root for him no matter how deviant his intentions seem.
Growth isn’t something one-dimensionally associated with Loki. He’s a compulsive liar and a narcissist, someone so single-mindedly focused on himself that nothing else seems to matter. Although we don’t see a complete flip in his character, we get to have a closer, more transparent look at this incredibly well-written character.
Loki shows various emotions throughout the show, each one more intense than the last. We get to see Loki on the path of self-actualisation. He goes from a person with a violent self-hating streak to finding and falling in love with himself.
The show also teases Loki’s gender-fluidity, which is canon in the comics; he is even referred to by Odin while addressing his three children as “–my son, my daughter, and my child who is both.”; in the books. This opens doors for Loki not only to discover himself but also his sexuality. MCU has taken a small yet remarkable step in bringing about queer representation into its mainstream media.
The show itself is incredibly aesthetic, set in an isolated version of the MCU, making it appealing and a treat to the viewer’s eyes. We get to see everything from the 1970s-retro-futurism to the excellent sci-fi influences of Star Wars come to life. Even with such distinction, the show doesn’t seem all over the place or lose its Marvel Charm. The lore is set up so naturally that it takes a minute to realise it’s happening. This makes the show playful and heartfelt in equal measure and downright looks really cool.
The show has its fair share of soul-searching and character development and takes us to new places to meet new people; Apart from Loki himself, every other character is new to us. This makes the episodes feel fresh and exciting and in no way a rehash of what has already come before, albeit the show being set in the past. This makes the show enjoyable to watch in its own right and provides excitement for what is to come.
The chemistry Loki shares with all the characters introduced to us is marvellous to behold. We see Loki make friends, form alliances (and also break them), understand himself and learn about people not just as a means to an end but as human beings. Every conversation we see Loki encounter, there are the underlying values of trust and distrust, which is synonymous with the God of Mischief himself. With all this going on, we see Loki and his fellow allies stand through the test of time itself and seeing it all come together beautifully is worth the stretch to watch.
The individuality of the storytelling of the series is commendable, making it stand apart from any other Marvel production; Unlike in the past, the movies and shows that are set in a proliferation of a large area to spin the story, this show spins its web in a fantastical world so small that it makes one wonder how it will make way for the bigger picture. But Kate Herron–the director, somehow manages to do it all simultaneously.
All of the aspects from the characters, their development, aesthetic, soundtracking combined assures a fresh and exciting era for MCU as a whole. Even with the irony of being set in a world before it all started, this show lays down the strongest foundations for the next season and all the future projects to come. Now, all we viewers have to do is sit back, relax and jet-ski into the future and see what the next couple of movies have to offer to us through the Marvel timeline.
Written by Ramya S. Prakash for MTTN
Edited by Anushka Bhattacharyya for MTTN
Featured Image by Pranav Viju