Loki is by far one of the most popular characters in Marvel Comics, but at the same time, he is also one of the most complicated ones. Loki often walked the fine line between good and evil. Bringing on terrific destruction but also trying to rule justly when he was put in positions of power. When Loki first appeared in the MCU, he spent several years as the arch-villain to his adoptive brother Thor, only to turn somewhat of an anti-hero mere moments before his death. Due to this complexity, fans are often wondering, can Loki truly be classified as a villain? Or is he an anti-hero?
Loki has, for the most part, been portrayed as a villain, with jealousy toward his adoptive brother and the hunger for power and general destruction being his main motivators. On the other hand, there are several storylines where Loki is likewise portrayed as an anti-hero, so it’s difficult to classify him. In the MCU, it’s more or less the same story. Loki was introduced as the primary enemy both for Thor and for the Avengers, only to form an alliance with Thor during ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ and turn into a full-on anti-hero in his own standalone show.
Now that we’ve covered that we really don’t know in which category to put Loki, it’s time to analyze why. If you’re interested in more, stay with us and keep reading!
Why was Loki mostly a villain in the comics?
To list all the reasons why Loki can be considered a villain would be truly a difficult task, and we’re pretty sure you wouldn’t read an article so long. But let’s try.
Usually, when we’re trying to determine whether someone is good or bad, both in real life and fiction, we need to take a look at a person’s motivations. So what are Loki’s motivations? Loki is extremely power-hungry, vain, and egoistic. At times, he is cruel and destructive, and he is almost always deceptive, willing to use manipulation to get what he wants.
And what does Loki want? He wants to be better than his brother. He wants to take revenge on anyone who slighted him. He wants to sit on the Throne of Asgard or demolish Asgard in some storylines.
It’s Loki’s destiny to be an eternal rival to Thor, and Thor is often featured as one of the central characters in Loki’s stories, but rarely is he depicted in a positive light as far as Loki is concerned.
Loki creates chaos and discord wherever he goes, sometimes for his own personal amusement, and sometimes his mischief has Universal and deadly consequences. Loki frequently allies himself with other major villains to achieve his goals. You can’t have a good Loki storyline without a good measure of betrayal because this is who he is.
Betrayal, chaos, trickery, and mischief are at the core of Loki’s character, and you can’t really expect him to be a cookie-cutter hero, right? But there are instances in which Loki was perceived as an anti-hero at best.
Loki sometimes assumed the role of protecting Asgard
Over the course of Loki’s existence as a character, he did have multiple redemption arcs.
In the ‘Agent of Asgard’ storyline, Loki goes on a journey to basically erase his past evil deeds and to erase history as it is, or at least rewrite it. He becomes the god of stories, for a moment forgetting his old iconic nickname. It’s one of the best examples of Loki going from a villain to a more morally ambiguous anti-hero.
During the ‘Thor: God of Thunder’ storyline, Loki was pitted against Thor, and the two clashed as cosmic forces threatened to possibly erase existence. Even though Loki was at first introduced as a villain, he ultimately sacrifices himself to restart the sun. Thor gets sad every time he sees the sun shining over Midgard.
During ‘Young Avengers,’ we see a different version of Loki, who constantly worries about becoming evil and a villain. He tries to stop his ultimate transformation; however, his core character traits, such as lying, cheating, deception, and manipulation, are still present.
Following the ‘War of the Realms,’ Loki adopted a new heroic persona, becoming an ally with Thor while leading a realm of his own, Jotunheim, his birthplace.
Is Loki a villain in the MCU?
Loki was introduced to the MCU during the events of ‘Thor,’ and he was, you guessed it, a villain. Loki planned on usurping his brother’s throne by staging a dangerous scheme that restarted a war with Frost Giants and almost killed Odin. When Loki found out about his true heritage, things took a turn for the worse.
During the events of ‘Avengers, ‘ Loki made the worst possible things imaginable; he made a deal with Thanos. In exchange for Tesseract, Loki was supposed to get the Chitauri army that he could use to enslave humans. The effects of Mind Stone further poisoned his mind, making him hate Thor, Asgard, and humans even more.
Loki’s motivations in the MCU were more or less the same as in the comics. He was jealous of Thor and wanted the Throne of Asgard for himself. But his redemption arc in the MCU was slightly more direct than in the comics.
During the events of ‘Thor: Ragnarok,’ Loki forms an uneasy alliance with Thor in an attempt to stop Hela. Their camaraderie is short-lived, considering that Loki dies in ‘Infinity War’ at Thanos’ hand, but in a way, he died a hero since he attempted to resist Thanos, even kill him.
However, it wasn’t until the events of his own standalone show that Loki had a true change of heart. Seeing himself being killed by Thanos changed something within him, and currently, Loki is on a journey to save the Multiverse in a way.
So, even though his comic book history is extremely complicated, Loki is, at this point in the MCU, an anti-hero.
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