OP-ED: Loki, Marvel’s Greatest Villain, Has Been Reduced to a Studio Crutch

in Marvel, Op-Ed

Tom Hiddleston as Loki Laufeyson in 'Loki'

Credit: Marvel Studios

Loki, Prince of Asgard, is no more. These days, all Marvel Studios has to offer audiences is Loki, Prince of Plot Devices.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in 'Loki' 2.01
Credit: Marvel Studios

It wasn’t always this way. After being introduced in Thor (2011), Loki instantly became a fan-favorite, both for the moral ambiguity of a character who could either be a villain or a reluctant hero at any given moment and for the dynamic performance of Tom Hiddleston.

The Frost Giant, who would go on to be dubbed the God of Mischief, DB Cooper, and even Variant L1130 (according to the Time Variance Authority, anyway), would evolve from Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby’s space-age oddball take on Norse mythology into his own complex figure over the course of The Avengers (2012), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), until his brutal death at the hand of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War (2018).

Infinity-War-Thanos-Snap-Mcu-Survivors
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: As Marvel Replaces Jonathan Majors, ‘Loki’ Director Breaks Silence

Because the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going all-in with the Multiverse concept, fans only had to go a little time with a dead Loki, as the character was reintroduced in Avengers: Endgame (2019) and received his own Disney+ solo show, with Loki season 1 portraying the god as a time-displaced tool of the Time Variance Authority.

Since then, the show has fully committed to portraying its lead character as a more virtuous, honest version of the God of Mischief, now dedicated to preventing the destruction of the Sacred Timeline alongside his best bro Mobius M Mobius (Owen Wilson), OB (Ke Huy Quan), his female Variant Sylvie (Sophia di Martino), and various versions of Kang (Jonathan Majors), most recently as 19th-century inventor Victor Timely.

Jonathan Majors as Victor Timely, the Kang Variant
Credit: Marvel Studios

But, if you take away the mischief, the sudden betrayals, and the relentless self-interest, is Loki even Loki anymore? In Loki season 2, Mobius turns the subtext into text and acknowledges that the show is barely even depicting the same character, as the TVA agent notes he barely even thinks of Loki as a Norse god anymore.

There’s a good reason for that. The character of Loki we see in Loki season 2 bears very little resemblance to what he started out as, the power-hungry adopted child who is forever trying to murder his own brother Thor (Chris Hemsworth), sometimes in the form of a snake.

In fact, Loki is barely a character in his own show, let alone the protagonist. Midway through season 2, Loki has been sidelined by Marvel’s desire to highlight Jonathan Majors as the new Big Bad of the MCU and the company’s determination to use the TVA as an all-purpose continuity crutch for the franchise.

Tom Hiddleston and crew in Marvel's 'Loki' Season 2
Credit: Marvel Studios

The recently released Marvel Studios The Marvel Cinematic Universe: An Official Timeline book has been promoted as the definitive guide to the MCU, a quick and easy way to answer all the plot holes and confusing events of the 30+ movies in the series so far.

Related: Marvel Fans Outraged Over Loki’s Sexuality

In retrospect, Loki introducing the TVA now looks like it was Marvel Studios building itself an escape hatch for any continuity errors fans could ever find. The Official Timeline explains everything from Spider-Man‘s confusing passage of years to exactly what Christmas Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) spent fighting the Mandarin by having the TVA’s malevolent Miss Minutes (voiced by Tara Strong in Loki) just say it was a goof, basically.

Miss Minutes in Episode 2 of Loki
Credit: Marvel Studios

Ultimately, the TVA is the main character of Loki, not the God of Mischief himself. In its eagerness to solve its own continuity issues, Marvel has defanged its greatest, most sympathetic villain and turned him to support staff in his own show. That’s what his glorious purpose has become: fixing screenwriters’ mistakes.

Is Loki the same character as he once was? Tell us your glorious opinions in the comments below!

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