By Contributing Writer, Joesph Shrader
With the release of the film Iron Man in 2008, Marvel launched Phase One of its Cinematic Universe – a concept so bold and daring, many thought it was a recipe for certain disaster. However, today, nearly a decade later, Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe nears its conclusion with Avengers: Infinity War, a film whose release is on the horizon less than 6 months from now. Billions of dollars later, Marvel has found itself time and time again consistently capable of making fun films which have tied into a grander scheme – a grand plan that finally comes to its completion in May of 2018.
This clever and profitable shared cinematic universe has not been without its fair share of problems, most notably with what’s now become relatively known as the Marvel villain problem. These films find themselves with antagonists that lack true substance and substantial threat. They are ultimately thin and without real lasting development or consequence for the MCU. Marvel villains tend to simply be placed in front of our heroes, only to be toppled by the film’s end with no dignified legacy left to carry over into the next film. These Marvel villains come and go, usually forgotten by the time the credits roll. Beginning with the WarMonger and now most recently with Thor: Ragnarok’s Hela the Goddess of Death, Marvel has suffered routinely for failing to deliver villains in their films with a true lasting impact…save for only one. Unbeknownst to Marvel itself, they have unwittingly created not only one of their greatest MCU characters, but also one of, if not the best villain put to screen since Heath Ledger’s Joker nearly a decade ago.
“I am Loki of Asgard, and I am burdened with glorious purpose.”
Indeed Loki was a success, without any foreknowledge of the path truly set before him by Marvel and its filmmakers. As such, Loki has become the one unpredictable and truly fantastic Marvel villain for their Cinematic Universe.
Loki of Asgard is a character whose appearances have spanned multiple Marvel films, with four appearances out of 16 Marvel Cinematic Universe films (with a fifth appearance surely forthcoming with Infinity War). Loki, portrayed by the great and perfectly casted Tom Hiddleston, has become the one villain to rule them all for Marvel Studios over the past 10 years.
How, or why, you ask? Across these Marvel films, Loki has oftentimes proven to be part of a thrilling chess match with the audience, showing fans over and over that he simply cannot be trusted. Even though at times he forces all of us to so desperately want to.
Ever the opportunist, this Loki has always been ready to betray those who would take a chance to support him, in particular, when a better outcome presents itself. He did so with Thor in both the original Thor film, then again in its sequel The Dark World, and he appears to have done so yet again as he secretly sat atop the throne of Asgard before finally revealing himself in last year’s Thor: Ragnarok.
Each and every time that we’ve seen Hiddleston’s Loki on screen, there’s always more to his story as he continues to intriguingly and engagingly develop as Marvel’s greatest villainous character.
In fact, you could argue he is the only MCU villain who has had any form of true character development when compared to all the other MCU villains. From his humble beginnings as merely a part of Thor’s near-coronation in the original Thor film (then betraying Thor and Odin for his true family from Jotunheim), to the devastating loss of his loving mother and magical mentor Frigga in The Dark World (and then ultimately removing Odin from the throne of Asgard at the film’s end), to his heroic assist of the fleeing Asgardians in Ragnarok after he locates the Tesseract again, presumably for Thanos. Coupled with the fact that we know he’s not telling anyone what only he knows: that Thanos is already en route to conquering Midgard. All of this combined to truly make for a remarkable villain. We never know where Loki’s true intentions actually lie in any of his films.
These reasons really convey why he is so compelling, both a developed character and villain alike. Loki’s arc is nearing its completion, and this multi-film story has certainly made for a fantastic and unpredictable ride. Marvel has unknowingly created their most marvelous villain with Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. In only a few short months from now, we will all see if their supposed “best” comic book villain, Thanos, can even come close to unseating the God of Mischief as the one true villain to fear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.