Is Loki Marvel’s Joker?

Journey Into Marvel – Part 48

loki_joker_facebook_cover_tests_by_lucafon-d5oabrlExtremites, around the premiere of Thor: The Dark World, I read a Forbes article that declared Loki as the only interesting Marvel villain. This article claims because of Marvel’s campy comedic vibe they have yet to produce a villain who has the gravitas of the Joker.

Ignoring that this article disregards the none Disney Marvel adaptations like Fox’s X-Men, which features both Sir Ian McKellen’s inspired interpretation of Magneto and Fassbender’s younger version who is just as rich — and Sony’s plethora of well adapted Spider-Man villains: Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock or the malevolent and off the wall Green Goblin of Willem DaFoe— the article has a point.

I submit that of the villains so far presented in the Marvel Disney World, Loki is the only one adapted faithfully to the screen.

Obadiah Staine is a footnote in Iron Man.

Mickey Rourke’s Vanko is a mishmash of characters.

Shane West’s Mandarin is a spit in the eye.

Tim Roth’s Abomination was well cast in a terrible script.

Hugo Weaving’s Red Skull has too little screen time.

Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is the first villain that poses a threat and that is because his is the only faithful adaptation.

The Joker, in Batman, is the perfect villain.

We often as literary critics get bogged down  looking for important motivations when we dissect villains, but really, as so well reduced in the recent HBO True Detective series, they are the opposite side to a coin. They are the dark in opposition to the light. Joker is the yang to Batman’s yin. He doesn’t hate the Batman, per se, or love him like the Riddler does, he needs the Batman to exist. This is because he is part of the same personality. Batman and Joker are both deficient in one side of their personality and the other character fills in that deficiency. Batman lacks any sort of humour, Joker has an excess of it. Joker lacks any sort of ethics, Batman has an excess of them. So it is with Loki and Thor.

I am not about to suggest that Thor and Batman are one and the same. I have already made the case that he is a parody of Superman. Loki is the same as Joker. Both characters have the same goal … to create chaos for the sake of chaos.

Sure, as time has gone on both the Joker and Loki have gained deeper pathos. In Loki’s case, he wishes to gain control of Asgard for some received slight in his adoption by Odin, but in his initial appearance this was not present.

Journey Into Mystery #85 is the third appearance of the Mighty Thor. He has now fought aliens, restored capitalism to a banana republic, and met his future love Jane Foster/Nelson. In this issue he meets his archnemesis.

Up in a very special place called Asgard, its first appearance, there grows a great oak tree. Within this tree is exists Loki trapped until someone cries a tear for the him and he can be released. Loki, being the most clever of the Asgardians, makes one of the leaves float into the eye of passing Heimdall and he is free.

After this initial plan Loki spends the story creating chaos in his search for Thor.

If it’s a statue, Loki has brought it to life, if it was somehow inanimate, it somehow becomes animate.

Why does he create all this chaos?

Loki never wants to defeat Thor. He just wants Thor to ‘pit wits.’ This is the relationship Batman has with Joker, although without the magic. It’s almost as if Loki wants to play with Thor. It is not a bloodthirsty relationship like Prince Namor or Doctor Doom’s with the Fantastic Four. It’s a battle of wits.

jim85-02

Loki’s first entrance! Ever!

In my mind, there are four types of antagonists: the Scorned, the Megalomaniac, the Ideologue, and the Shit Disturber. Examples of these in Batman would be: the Riddler, the Penguin, Ra’s Al Ghul, and the Joker. On Marvel’s side it goes like this: Prince Namor, Dr. Doom or Kingpin, Magneto and Loki.

Loki’s presence has always been expected when it comes to Thor. Many of Thor’s issues have Loki involved in someway.

And so it is with Batman.

This is evident from Loki’s debut.

Until next time, Extremites, I remain: Julian Munds.

Story I Read:Trapped By Loki, The God Of Mischief!” (Journey Into Mystery #85, Oct. 1962)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Pros: This is a really fun issue. More Asgardians. Bonkers Loki plots.

Cons: Character wise, this is a pretty empty episode, but Silver Age comics are often gimmicky and just entertaining.

Previous Review:It Came From The Skies” (Fantastic Four #7, Oct 1962)

Upcoming Review:The Challenge of Comrade X” (Tales to Astonish #36, Oct 1962)

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About Julian Munds

I possess a degree in Theatre and Drama from the University of Toronto. I own my own theatre company called Snobbish Theatre. We focus our work on new versions of classics.

Posted on April 24, 2014, in Comics, Marvel, Thor and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. You’ve got it ALL wrong. Loki doesn’t create chaos for the sake of chaos. And people don’t love Loki because he lives for his every whim. People love Loki because all Loki has ever wanted is to be loved, accepted, and seen as equal. That’s such a deep human need that most people can relate. Loki lashes out for lack of love and support. He doesn’t have friends, a girlfriend, or anyone else who would miss him if he were gone. Except Thor, who he can’t stand because Thor has been given everything, especially respect instead of pity.

    Loki was my favorite character in the comic books when I was young. I bought Thor comics only because I wanted to read more about Loki. And the movies have made Loki even better than I remember. So deliciously pining for love. This is also why women love him so much. He’s the ultimate Bad Boy that only wants to be understood, yet burns the city down because he feels he’s not.

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