SPOILER NOTE: This is a review of a character from the 2012 film “The Avengers”. It will contain spoilers. I recommend avoiding this review until you’ve seen the film.
“You think yourself above them.”
“Then you miss the truth of ruling, brother. The throne would suit you ill.”
-Thor and Loki, The Avengers
The Adopted Prince
Loki isn’t your standard supervillain. No pool parties in vats of acid, no poison injected directly in his brain, no super-robot run amok. No, Loki was just a small child, rescued from certain death by a demigod and king, and raised in a lush palace without a care. You could be forgiven if you think that sounds a lot more like a superhero’s origin story than a supervillain’s, and that’s partially because of Loki’s adopted brother, Thor.
“I remember a shadow, living in the shade of your greatness.”
Thor’s standalone movie tells the story of the quintessential “golden child” (Maybe literally – who knows what blonde hair is made of in Asgard?), beloved by everyone. He was the strongest and the oldest, and for those reasons, he was chosen to be heir to the throne of Asgard, next in line to be king once his father Odin passed. For Loki, this was not only a slight, but a miscarriage of justice. In The Avengers, Loki openly admits to Thor that he “should be king,” insisting that he deserves a throne – any throne, it seems.
Loki doesn’t want to be below any other. He wants to rule. He wants to be in charge.
You think yourself above them?
Maybe Loki would have been a fair king at one time, but time and frustration have put a chip on his shoulder the size of Thanos’ chin. He comes to Earth preaching freedom “from freedom,” demands that humanity kneel, and prepares a five-star show in the middle of downtown New York wherein he seeks to destroy Earth’s mightiest heroes in the most dramatic fashion possible.
And as Thor notes, he misses the point of ruling. His purposes would not be the best for humanity, or even for him – his rule would be short and painful, deadly and despotic. His rage and arrogance have blinded him to the truth that the way the world is run is not for him to decide.
“I am a god, you dull creature!”
The Bible tells us a shockingly similar story. An angel, created by God to be the most beautiful and glorious of all the angels, decided that he deserved the throne, and as Isaiah 14 tells us, sought to ascend to heaven, “above the stars of God,” and set his throne there. Satan didn’t seek to an office as low as king – he sought to be God, ruler of an entire universe.
Satan was thrown down and brought low, though; cast from heaven by a grieving God, the only recourse Satan had from his doom was to subjugate humanity and bring as many people down with him as possible. Now, far from being revered as king, Satan is reduced to torment, lies and accusation while he awaits his final sentencing.
A Bag of Cats
As crazy as it sounds to rebel against an all-powerful God and seek your own way, we can’t laugh too loudly at Loki. Our machinations are far more subtle, and though they affect fewer people, they’re no less destructive to us. Though God sought to adopt us as sons and daughters, though He pursues us in the hopes of returning us to live under His care forever, we turn from him and insist on our own way.
It’s the basest form of insanity: to see the perfect, supreme God who created us, to listen to the way He said we were built to function, and to say “no, thanks. I have a better idea.” We see this all over the place: God tells us how we’re supposed to deal with people in business, but we reject it as “getting in the way.” God tells us how we’re supposed to treat our family, but we insist they’re “too annoying.” He instructs us in the way our sexuality should be used, but we call it “old-fashioned.”
“There’s no throne. There’s no version of this where you come out on top.”
Loki’s insanity had a definitive end: like Tony Stark tells him in The Avengers, “it’s all on you” – and when his army falls, Loki proves that he doesn’t have the strength to follow through with his threats or his desire to rule. Beaten and broken by the strongest being he’s ever fought, Loki is returned to Asgard – not as a beloved brother, but as a prisoner.
This is what awaits us – but it doesn’t have to.
The throne would suit us ill, because we’re not created to fill it. Our pursuit of our own pleasures keeps throwing our own failures back into our lap. So stop trying to rule your own life – your true freedom lies not in doing whatever you want, but in doing what you were meant to do.
So turn away from the poisonous dream, and come home – your father earnestly begs for your return.
• • •
This was post 5 of 5 in the “Avengers Disassembled” series. We reviewed the lives of Captain America, Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man over the last few weeks. Thanks for joining us for this exploration of the Avengers and their enemy – this is only the beginning! More reviews of movies, TV shows, and any other culture you can think of are coming soon!
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This review was originally written prior to the release of “Thor: The Dark World“, and published prior to a Film and Theology event about the newer film. Follow us on social media for our upcoming review of many more Marvel movies to come.