Ancient To Modern: Borrowed Gods (4)

Loki

In Norse mythology, Loki is a shape-shifter (hence, a trickster) who is ascribed various powers in different versions or accounts. He is sometimes described as helping the other members of the Norse Pantheon and sometimes as working against them. This diversity makes him nuanced and interesting. In the original myths, he is completely unrelated to Odin, Freya, and Thor.

Loki shown in an 18th Century Icelandic manuscript.
Loki shown in an 18th Century Icelandic manuscript.
The punishment of Loki by Louis Huard (1813-1874).
The punishment of Loki by Louis Huard (1813-1874).
Loki and Sigyn (1863) by Marten Eskil Winge.
Loki and Sigyn (1863) by Marten Eskil Winge.

This Norse god has been skillfully re-written in Marvel Comics. In their version, he is the adopted son of Odin and Frigga (Freya) and the envious stepbrother of Thor.

Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

This unavoidably sets him at odds with the Avengers (get a load of the old Iron Man).

Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

The imagery for this character has been  effectively re-invented in the comics. Below is a later version.

Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

Disney Marvel also got Loki’s imagery right, and Tom Hiddleston excellently portrays him in the movies. In my opinion, he has become one of the best villains in cinematic history.

From The Avengers (2012), directed by Joss Whedon.
From The Avengers (2012), directed by Joss Whedon.
From Thor: The Dark World (
“Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World” (2013, directed by Alan Taylor)
Loki (Tom Hiddleston)
Ph: Film Frame
© 2013 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2013 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

We’ll look at one more Norse god next week and then move back to the Greek pantheon.

 

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7 thoughts on “Ancient To Modern: Borrowed Gods (4)”

  1. This is a slight tangent to your discussion… but do you watch the CW show, “Supernatural” ? They have done some interesting takes on various mythologies, including some Gods (Norse, Greek, and Christian)… and they did a particularly interesting thing with Loki at one point. I won’t say more to spoil it for anyone… but I can go further if you don’t mind the spoiler.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Admittedly they stumble in the execution from time to time… but they have done a very old-testament interpretation of God and angels and demons… and somehow managed to work in some other mythologies as well, and one kind of clever thing with Loki that was a spin I hadn’t heard or thought of previously. Without spoiling anything else… in Supernatural’s world, sometimes the Angels are just as dangerous to us mortals as are the Demons… like two sides of the same coin.

        Liked by 1 person

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