The sentiment that Loki isn’t a villain, and never was, that persists among a thick slice of the Marvel fandom is so inconceivably stupid that I can’t imagine it was ever humored without a healthy amount of whiskey in between thick inhalations of full paint cans. Armed with a dialogue scene they misinterpreted so wildly it’s questionable if they were awake while they watched it, the folks at CBR pushed this idea forward again, after the most recent episode of Loki.
A lot of people still think Loki was always a good guy. We beg to differ.
So I thought it was time I put forth my own interpretation — which should not be as controversial as it clearly is — that to say Loki was never a villain is to betray such a basic misunderstanding of media that you might want to go back to books about giant red dogs and shows about talking trains before making arguments about any fiction, ever.
The scene in question takes place in the TVA cafeteria after Loki and Mobius try and fail to interrogate the wayward Brad, aka Hunter X-5. Loki tries to console his partner about losing his cool in the interrogation, but Mobius at first refuses to admit he got angry. In response, the trickster god says:
“Remember that time I was so angry with my father and my brother, I went down to Earth and held the whole of New York City hostage with an alien army, tried to use the Mind Stone on Tony Stark, it didn’t work, so I threw him off a building! I mean, let me tell you something — wasn’t tactical. I lost it.”
This, argues CBR, is proof that Loki was never a villain, but a victim. His attack on NYC was simply a necessary expression of the trauma he experienced after learning Odin and Frigga lied to him about his origins. “He did villainous things,” CBR writes, “but he was never a villain himself.”
So, first, even if you accept the idea that what Loki did in Avengers was really more the fault of Odin and Frigga, let’s remember what someone said in another superhero movie. In Batman Begins, Rachel Dawes tells Bruce Wayne, “it’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.”
This is an idea that I — and anyone who even pretends to be an adult — must agree with. You are not who you dream to be unless your actions and your dreams are in step.
Second, what Loki does in Avengers is no momentary lapse of emotional control. He consciously accepts the tutelage of Thanos before hatching an elaborate plan to subvert SHIELD and any other great powers of Earth. That’s not a tantrum, that’s a war campaign.
That you relate to a villain, that you may even believe a villain’s actions are understandable or perhaps even excusable, does not mean they stop being villains. If anything, it simply means they are extremely well crafted villains.
Third, the folks at CBR don’t seem to get that this moment of dialogue is meant to be comedy. Loki is trying to console someone for letting their anger briefly get the best of them, and his attempt to relate to Mobius involves bringing up his past as a mass murderer.
It would be like if you accidentally spilled some milk in your kitchen, and the infamous Captain Hazelwood of the Exxon Valdez — who was reportedly drunk when the ship struck a reef in Prince William Sound and spilled 10.8 million gallons of crude oil into the water — were to say to you, “Hey, if you think that’s bad, this one time when I was driving a boat…”
If it reveals anything about Loki’s character, it’s that he still hasn’t taken full responsibility for the crimes he’s committed. Notice that he mentions the alien army, he mentions throwing Tony Stark off Avengers Tower, but he doesn’t mention a single one of the literally hundreds of deaths he’s directly responsible for.
Remember when Black Widow says he’d killed “80 people in 2 days?” That’s before the Battle of New York.
If Loki were anything like the redemptive hero we want him to be, the fact that he is a mass murderer would be the first thing out of his mouth when he talks to Mobius. It would be his first thought every morning, and his last thought before he went to bed. But even now, after genuinely trying to mend his ways with the TVA, Loki takes an act of mass murder and blames it on a temper tantrum.
Of course, this isn’t the first time certain fans have found themselves so enamored with Hiddelston’s portrayal of Loki that they retroactively decide he was never a bad guy. After it was revealed in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron that Loki was armed with the Mind Stone in the previous movie (which is utterly nuts, but that’s a whole different bag of cats), it was decided that every bad thing Loki did was all the Mind Stone’s fault.
The Mind Stone, the fans claimed, forced Loki to do all those bad things.
Which only proves that Marvel fans can sometimes have, as the great Ed Harris says in Glengarry Glen Ross, “the memory of a f–kin’ fly.”
He consciously accepts the tutelage of Thanos before hatching an elaborate plan to subvert SHIELD and any other great powers of Earth. That’s not a tantrum, that’s a war campaign.
In 2011’s Thor, Loki manipulates Thor, Sif, and the Warriors Three into a trip to Jotunheim which leads to the deaths of dozens of frost giants, and the return of hostilities between that land and Asgard. He murders his biological father and attempts to commit genocide on his own race. In the end, rather than face responsibility for his actions, he accepts death.
And all of that happens before Loki is within a hundred million miles of the Mind Stone.
That you relate to a villain, that you may even believe a villain’s actions are understandable or perhaps even excusable, does not mean they stop being villains. If anything, it simply means they are extremely well crafted villains. They’ve managed to convince you of why they’re so passionate about doing the wrong things.
That doesn’t change because you think they’re cool or sexy. I wouldn’t kick Cate Blanchett’s Hela out of bed, but no matter how tight my pants might get in her presence, it doesn’t mean she murdered half of Asgard for humanitarian reasons.
It’s okay to form opinions when you’re drunk as long as you realize how dumb they were the next morning. Loki was a bad guy. How is this even a question?