Once upon a time, I had a Muse, and that Muse turned out to be a God named Loki. In hindsight, I wonder how I didn’t know or notice that the Muse was something that was Not Me, and the answer is layered – there’s a part of Loki that absolutely IS part of me, there’s my own doxa that anything we imagine exists, perhaps because we imagined it and brought it into being, or perhaps that part of our brain that is capable of dreaming is able to tap into other universes. In any case, it wasn’t disturbing to me to share a brain with Someone Else, until I found out for certain that Someone Else had His own ideas about what I should be doing with my life.
When the first Thor movie came out, I was working on a book with a friend of mine, about a finishing school for goddesses, and she and I decided that we liked Loki in the film enough that maybe we’d give Him a cameo in the book, let Him be a professor of…something or other. However, we both knew enough mythology to know that Marvel had taken some liberties, so we decided to do some research on Him, and we came across Better Myths’ retelling of the building of Asgard’s walls and Sleipnir’s conception.
Upon reading the entry, we had a joint moment of, “WE SHALL MAKE HIM OUR HERO. ANY MAN WHO CAN GIVE BIRTH IS THE BADDEST MOFO EVER.” He was pleased with this, as you can imagine. Pretty soon He had His own book going and He was moving things and well…if you really want to know the extent of my flail, it’s archived at the beginning of my blog. Have fun watching my head explode repeatedly.
And so I didn’t really see or interact with Marvel Loki, even though I enjoyed the Avengers when it came out. And I figured that Marvel Loki was probably just a costume to Himself; He can look like anything He wants, so why wouldn’t He come to a new or prospective Lokean in a very recognizable guise? I’ve seen Him be blond, brunette, raven-haired, and redheaded. Whatever, it’s a cosmetic thing, right? I’ve also had Him come to me as other people – He once came to me as my offline pal Aikasan, and when I told her about it, she mused, “I wonder if I can charge Him royalties for using my likeness?”
Loki picked Aika’s face because I’d been avoiding Him, and I hadn’t seen her in a while, and I missed her, so of course I didn’t shirk when I saw her, and He used that to get my attention. Sneaky little Fucker, isn’t He? And I’ve found that sometimes His appearance is cosmetic, sort of – He’ll pick a face that you like, or that you’ll be at ease with – and occasionally He’ll pick something terrifying to make a point. My greater point is that experiences with Him can and should vary.
And so when people would talk about Marvel Loki and whether He’s a thoughtform/distinct Entity or an aspect of Loki, I didn’t have super strong opinions, other than that people have meaningful interaction with Him, because I try not to have opinions on shit that I don’t know much about. And even now, I don’t really consider myself an expert on Marvel!Loki vs Marvel Loki (aspect? Distinct God in His own right? Godly costuming? All of the above? Fuck, I don’t know, y’all). But I do have a little experience with Him now, because He came to me, and while the contents of our interactions aren’t really relevant here, there came a point where I said to Him, “but you’re not my Husband,” and He said, “I’m not? Are you certain of that?”
So what have I learned from Marvel!Loki? Well, a lot of Marvel!Loki’s story is off-camera, and only alluded to, but the one scene from the films that stands out to me here is this:
Notice the almost imperceptible wink.
In this scene, one of the film’s villains is staring Loki down, and Loki’s eyeing him the way that a cat might eye a nice juicy mouse, hoping it’ll be stupid enough to fall into its trap. None of the MCU films shares what sort of trauma’s Loki had when He was lost between worlds, but it has left Loki with the kind of presence that makes a would-be miscreant back away with the realization that Loki cannot be controlled or contained once He’s unleashed.
I don’t think for a moment that the Marvelverse has shown Loki the same kinds of horrors that He’s seen in the Lore, but in some ways, it’s telling a story that’s similar and easier for our modern minds to accept. Is being cast into an abyss any better or worse than being tied to a rock? It’s a way for us to see and hear that part of Him, and understand just a little of Him. And like Him taking Aika’s face and using it, this is easier for me to accept than contemplating dead children, because I don’t want to dwell on that, or I’d probably engage in blasphemy. And I don’t really want to get into arguing over Lore, because all the stories are true and all of them are false – symbols that are more than symbols all at once. It isn’t fair to Loki to trivialize His pain, and it’s not appropriate to blame the Gods for a story that is and isn’t true. Marvel’s version of Loki is full of pain and rage, lost without a family to call His own.