Thor: Ragnarok and Being Grateful for “Taika’s” Loki

So I’m watching Thor: Ragnarok, since I have to do something while I work now that Twitter is currently not an option for me and… I really love this film. It’s fun, it’s weird, and it’s something that does not actually require a lot of effort on my part to engage with. 

Beyond that, however, I was reminded of how ridiculous the hate for this film was from die-hard Loki stans who missed that this was actually some of the best treatment Loki’d gotten since the first Thor film. 

Think about it: 

  • In the first Thor film, Loki is really going through it and he’s a manipulative little worm. As sympathetic as he is, he’s also annoying and he thinks destroying the home of the Frost Giants will make things better. (After Ragnarok, this is my favorite Loki appearance in the MCU.)
  • In the first Avengers film, as much as fandom wants to push the “poor widdle baby did nothing wrong and was manipulated” narrative (a proto-Kylo, if you wish), Loki is fully fash and is willing to enslave or destroy Earth to have his way.
  • Did anyone watch or enjoy the second Thor movie? I know I didn’t. No one felt like they were in character and I actually think Loki was handled super poorly across the film.

Which brings us to… Ragnarok

I saw Thor: Ragnarok in theaters, already expecting a ton because of Taika Waititi’s past work and my experiences with his style and his sense of humor. And the film definitely delivered across a bunch of different avenues. 

Especially the Loki one. Like with Kylo Ren, Loki was a character I’d enjoyed initially on my own but then cooled on once the fandom decided it was going to be Like That. The “Loki is actually oppressed by Asgardians and Frost Giants” narrative wasn’t so bad when it first started because it was only in some fanworks and they made it work well. It wasn’t taken as canon. But as the fandom shifted to proper “Draco In Leather Pants” woobification and what was fanon was constantly pushed as canon, I found it hard to relate to Loki and to even like him.

Enter Ragnarok. Where Loki is not taken seriously but he’s also taken super seriously. Taika, for me, seems to understand what makes Loki fun and interesting. He’s such a shit in this film. He’s the ultimate younger sibling and I relate to him greatly. Like I think that if more folks looked at this Loki – who does feel like the logical progression from the impish pain in the ass Loki was in the first film – they’d really like him. I get the allure of a woobie in leather pants, but also… Loki is really freaking fun in this movie?? Even though he does have that asshole moment with Valkyrie in the latter half of the film… that wasn’t super fun for me, but not a thing I fully hate…

And yet, despite the fact that Loki here is so much more engaging and entertaining in this film than most of his previous appearances, I remember the initial fandom reaction.

I remember a lot of people acting like Taika had taken a dump all over MCU canon. There was an oft updated anti-Taika tag on Tumblr where most of the posts were people complaining about how unfair Taika was to abuse survivors (Loki and the women/BIPOC/queer people who over-identified with him). They also made up reasons why he was misogynistic (to female characters but also those female fans) that completely ignored that the MCU, as a franchise, is one of the most misogynistic from the jump.

(It’s wild because Loki literally delivers one of the earliest and most misogynistic lines in the MCU by calling Natasha a “mewling quim” in the first Avengers’ film. Sure Ragnarok doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test as we use it and that’s not great… but it’s definitely not the most misogynistic MCU film by far.)

I feel like Thor: Ragnarok is Loki’s Red Hood reawakening. You know? Like that moment where he becomes something more than a frankly frustrating villain – and those are fine, it’s just not entirely canon compliant, in my opinion – and gets to anti-hero it up while being entertaining as hell.

Why people sucked at embracing that back then is… beyond me. I hope they’re better at it in 2021 though! Because we’ve got that upcoming Loki show, Thor 4 is in production, and we’ve all got an eye on the pieces of Young Avengers scattered around the MCU currently (which always means the potential for Kid Loki VERY real) and I don’t think we’re going back to the kinda un-fun, mopey woobie Loki with those…

(Also, I wrote all of this and then I was like “Oh yes, Taika didn’t actually write this film” so uh… credit to the screenwriters for this good Loki content? Shout out to Christopher Yost, Eric Pearson, and Craig Kyle… three dudes I literally keep forgetting did the darn thing. My bad!)

About Zeenah

Zeenah writes about comics, nerd history, and ridiculous romance novels when not working frantically on her first collection of short stories and complaining about stuff. One day, she'll settle down and write that novel.
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