The AVENGERS: where we are Loki

A friend of mine challenged my assertion that Loki was the best of the Marvel movie villains. As we debated (imagine the verbal equivalent of hammers, shields, and repulsor rays) it became clear he thought my comment of “best” meant I regarded Loki as the most formidable. Therein resided the misunderstanding. I enjoyed Loki as the villain for two reasons:

  1. Tom Hiddleston’s nuanced acting provides one of the best performances in all the films, period.
  2. The character of Loki, albeit flawed and perhaps not as formidable, is simply the most interesting.

One of the reasons I believe it’s most interesting is because it most closely resembles each of us at one time or another. No, that doesn’t mean we’ve all had that day we got upset and assembled alien armies (although we’ve all been there, am I right?) to take over Manhattan. I’m referring to his pride, jealousy, rebellion and obstinance.

“I remember a shadow, living in the shade of your greatness.” – Loki

Loki still burns from the understanding of his life and status: he’s adopted. Although he has a father who loves him, he can’t accept it. His rebellion and rage make him live out desires for destructive dominion, rather than enjoying a healthy place in his father’s kingdom. The quintessential “prodigal son”, he proclaims himself king and god even though it’s so clear how much he’s found lacking.

Consider this: have we not all been here at one time or another? Are some of us here now? The Bible describes God as our heavenly father, and despite our sinful nature he offers us more than simply a service role in his kingdom… he offers adoption as full siblings:

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. – Galatians 4:4-5

There IS something humbling about this, however. Although the Odin/Thor/Loki relationship is an imperfect mimicry, it’s entirely true that part of our relationship with the God of the universe means we ARE in the shadow of the one true son. We are co-heirs, but he’s the preeminent son, the true and perfect Son of God, our savior and hence the one to whom we kneel.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Philippians 2:9-11

We don’t really like this. Even professing Christians are guilty of recasting Jesus as the co-pilot to THEIR story, the helpful Robin to their Batman (or Rick Jones to the Hulk). We see living in the shadow of the perfect Son as something negative, humiliating instead of humbling, chafing at the shadow instead of resting in the shade of his salvation. We can’t be happy to have a big brother that loves us, protects us, rescues us, equips us, empowers us and offers us friendship and eternal relationship in our father’s kingdom. We want to be the center of the story, the one who slays the dragon… we want the movie to be called “The Amazing Loki” instead of Thor. The truth is, it’s his story in which we’re a part. Even the Soundgarden song that ends the film hints at such a reality: “what if all you understand, could fit into the center of our hand? Then you found it wasn’t you, who held the sum of everything you knew.”

“So you take the world I love as recompense for your imagined slights?” – Thor

We see our pride and sinful self-worship bear itself out in the way we dominate our planet. Collectively (if not individually) have we not done more damage to God’s world (its people, its riches, its environment) than even Loki does in the movie? We haven’t needed Chitauri or giant flying worms to wreak devastation on hearts and hearths. We have our own “imagined slights” and reject God, we spit on the grace and love offered by our father because it doesn’t suit our warped desire.

“You give up this poisonous dream! You come home!” – Thor

(Spoiler alert!) Thor’s passionate cry is filled with love in The Avengers. He has no desire to punish his brother and continues offering reconciliation, seeking to win his fallen brother back all the way to the film’s end. Loki’s response? He pierces his brother in the side, bitter to the end, and in the final moments of the movie we see Thor taking him back for judgment instead of reconciliation.

We all will stand someday before our heavenly father. If we don’t give up our own poisonous dreams, if we don’t turn from our bitter rebellion, scripture tells us it will look like a courtroom. If we accept the saving shadow of the Son, it looks like home: devoid of strife and woe, and brighter than Asgard.

  1. Brad Huebert

    So true. I love it when movies echo truth so beautifully. We drink daily from poisonous dreams, convincing ourselves that our addictions bring health instead of death.

  2. James


  3. Aaron Deonarine

    It’s true. We need to give up selfish desires and our own self-centeredness in order to go where we truly belong.

  4. solomani

    I’ve seen it 3 times now (kids love it and I don’t mind). I have noticed a few things I didnt notice on the first run through:

    Bruce Banner is rocking a cradle at the beginning of the movie when he exclaims something along the lines of “we don’t always get what we want”. A reference to his childhood.

    When Thor and Loki are arguing ravens fly through the centre of the screen. The raven is traditionally associated with Odin and in some ways a “holy symbol” for him.

    Thanos smiles when his “skrull” lieutenant says that taking on the Earth is tantamount to suicide. Thanos has a death wish.

    Loki glances to the right of the screen when speaking to the “skrull” lieutenant in their first discourse and you can see stairs ascending above. Implying their is someone above even the skrull lord.

    The first 3 are touches only someone familiar with the mythos would even think to add. Basically a comic book geek like Joss and co. This is another reason its a great movie as it was crafted with love for the subject matter.

    Unlike a certain Batman movie by a certain comic book hating TIm Burton (who I am a fan off otherwise).

  5. James

    “comic book hating” – how did I miss that? Was there an article somewhere about that? I would have thought tormented Bruce suited his mind perfectly. I would have suspected Burton to have a comic box as a kid.

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