An Analysis of Loki's character development in Avengers

A quick summary about Loki in Thor and where we left Loki.

We know that Loki is jealous of his brother. That is not simply born out of his imagination. Odin made Loki think that he had as much chance to inherit the throne as Thor did. That was never the case. Then there is the fact that, we do not see that Loki has any friends. There is just Thor and his friend's. Apart from Volstagg neither of them seems to like him. He is openly disrespected by his brother and them.

He was not necessarily after the throne but wanted to be Thor's equal. Then he found out that he was adopted and worse of all, that he is a Frost Giant. A species that his own brother wanted to exterminate, that everyone talked about as monsters like we did about the boogeyman. He had two confrontations with his father after this. One in which Odin increased Loki's feelings of not mattering or at least not mattering as much as Thor. It certainly triggered feeling of self-loathing.

Loki came up with a plan that he believed would prove his worth and this was crushed by Odin's final words to him. Upon which he practically committed suicide or the very least gave up.

What happened from the end of Thor to the beginning of Avengers?

First the facts, we know that he was “rescued” by this guy in the credits, that apparently was supposed to be Thanos. Let's call him that for sake of simplicity. Thanos, gave Loki the sceptre, knowledge and new purpose (Scene 2). He also saw much more of the universe outside the nine realms. (Scene 5)

It is hard to say what exactly happened. However, we hear some rhetoric from Loki which does not sound like he came up with it on his own. I might be wrong, we do not see him talk that much about people on earth in Thor. The Asgardians in general have a pretty snobbish attitude towards humans. But just reconsider these quotes from Loki.

Freedom is life's great lie. Once you accept that, in your heart, you will know peace.

Kneel before me. I said kneel! Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state? It's the unspoken truth of humanity, that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life's joy in a mad scramble for power, for identity.

Enough. You are all of you, beneath me.

It was said as much that Loki was given new purpose by Thanos. So I think it is fair to assume that he also took advantage of Loki's state of mind and moulded it to serve his purpose.

What did Thanos want? The Tesseract. For that he needed someone powerful enough to survive travelling through an unstable wormhole.

So what does Loki actually want?

The obvious goal seems to be to take revenge on his brother by making himself king of a world that Thor considers to be under his protection. It is just so much of question how much of this is what Loki really wants. In Thor he states he wanted to be Thor's equal. He wanted to prove that even he was worthy son. Which I think basically boils down to him wanting to feel appreciated.

I do not think that has changed. What has changed is what Loki believes he can achieve and what he deserves. That was clearly influenced by his contact to Thanos and the Chitauri.

Are there any hints that Loki was influenced?

You might say that most of what I mention could also be something that Loki came up on his own, born out of grief, self loathing or whatever mental damage the events of Thor inflicted upon him. However, it seems that most of it benefits the Chitauri agenda.

When re-united with Thor, Loki tells him:

I remember you tossing me into an abyss.

That clearly contradicts what happened. It was Loki who let go of the scepter. Thor did not want his brother to fall. You could say that Loki twisted that around in his head to make himself more of a victim. It also makes sense for Thanos and Co to alienate Loki further from his family. Or maybe Loki was harbouring these thoughts and they empathised it.

There is no concrete proof but it makes sense. The Chitauri knew enough about the situation to expect that Thor might show up. They clearly know about Loki's inner turmoil. Just take this quote from the Chitauri spokesman.

Your ambition is little and born of childish need. We look beyond the Earth to the greater worlds the Tesseract will unveil.

Which tells us that obviously Loki is not that power mad as he might seem. His focus is still on getting even with Thor. Which is why he wants to rule over the earth, he does not ask for the Chitauri to use the Tesseract to make him ruler over the nine realms, including Asgard and Jotunheim. In other words, getting back the throne he lost and feels he deserves.

They even openly mock him for having so little ambition. So why not ask for that? They don't even seem to be interested in any of the realms. Then again who knows maybe they plan on using the Tesseract but do not tell Loki. Maybe they just do not care about one corner of the galaxy when they want to make a move on the rest.

It never is fully explained what new purpose was given to Loki. Was it to rule the earth? Then why mock him for it? Was it to give them the Tesseract? That seems more like task then an actual purpose. I think it is the former. They might look down on Loki for being “satisfied” with ruling over the earth but it is the only thing vaguely fitting a purpose.

This is also showing that there was some influence on behalf of the Chitauri. They needed him to have purpose that would work with their ambitions. The whole wacky way in which Loki talks about this purpose tells us a few things. First of all, it is so out of contact with the nature of human behaviour that I can hardly believe that someone from Asgard would come up with it. They played gods before on earth but the initial behaviour from Thor and what Odin tells his sons at the beginning does not suggest anything close to what Loki came up with.

Taking a look at the Chitauri however, we have this one guy mocking and threatening Loki, who also reports to Thanos. The Chitauri army consists of a metal/flesh hybrid type of soldier, some huge ass high-tech weaponry and a space ship not directly involved in the combat. Once that ship was destroyed by a sincle nuclear bomb, all the soldiers and machines seized to function.

In other words, they control their foot soldiers to such an extent that they depend on direct control from a ship. They basically enslave their own people, they work with threats and control. So when Loki begins his strange rhetoric about freedom and so on, I think that comes from the Chitauri. In fact that is exactly what they Chitauri are doing to him. They gave him a purpose, one that he would accept as something he wants, he certainly has not the option to say no.

The new purpose

What is so interesting about that new purpose is the way Loki justifies what he is about to do. He says to Thor:

And you're doing a marvellous job with that. The humans slaughter each other in droves while you idly fret. I mean to rule them, as why should I not?

It is like in his own mind he makes himself out to be the hero again, despite doing something that is actually the opposite. Which is why I would agree with Thor for a change, Loki is most certainly not lost too all good. It just that he is incredibly messed up. His ability to reason is overshadowed by his vulnerable emotional state and being influenced by someone like the Chitauri has only made things worse.

The blue/green eye change

This is not one of my favourite theories but I thought I mention this anyway. In Thor Loki has green eyes, in Avengers they are blue (which I believe is the natural eye colour of the actor). Which could be interpreted that just like Clint Barton was influenced by the Tesseract, so was Loki. After using the sceptre the eyes of the influenced persons change and it might just look different on someone who is not human.
Something that also might speak for that it explains the new rhetoric better, especially taken in comments from Dr. Solveig "It's more than knowledge, It's truth". And how he speaks about having seen the true power of the Tesseract himself. It is very cryptic and it seems strange statement since they do not have the Tesseract for an actual power demonstation. Although it might have referred to the teleport but it still is sketchy.

Previous page: Scene XIII: After the battle
Next page: Background