Tag Archives: Thor: The Dark World

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.

 

Ancient To Modern: Borrowed Gods (2)

Continuing on in our series, let’s take a look at…

Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

Freya

Actually, this goddess has a number of appellations and spellings as can be seen in some of my image captions. Also called Frigga in the Marvel Universe, she is the goddess of love, sex, fertility, beauty, war, death, etc. As you can see, their is some redundancy of function between the members of the Norse pantheon. Freya is the wife of Odin and the mother of Thor. Below is a depiction of her flyting with the god Loki. Flyting would have been called “playing the dozens” in the not too distant past of the American inner city. In the 1970s, my friends and I called it “firing” on each other when we were in high school. As this picture suggests, this is a fairly widespread sport throughout history.

Freya and Loki flyte (exchange insults) in this illustration by Lorenz Frolich (1895).
Freya and Loki flyte (exchange insults) in this illustration by Lorenz Frolich (1895).

Here is another representation by John Bauer.

Freja by John Bauer (1882-1918).
Freja by John Bauer (1882-1918).

Moving on to the comics, a prominent expression of modern mythology…

Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

… we finally arrive at the movies of the Disney Marvel Franchise, where Freya is played by Renee Russo.

Freya (Renee Russo) from Thor (2011), directed by Kenneth Branaugh
Freya (Renee Russo) from Thor (2011), directed by Kenneth Branaugh

From Thor: The Dark World (2013), directed by Alan Taylor.
From Thor: The Dark World (2013), directed by Alan Taylor.

(to be continued)

The Modern Pantheon: Heimdall

Disney Marvel's Thor: The Dark World Heimdall (Idris Elba) Ph: Film Frame © 2013 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2013 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.
Disney Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World
Heimdall (Idris Elba)
Ph: Film Frame
© 2013 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2013 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

I must confess to knowing very little about this character due to his mainly supporting role in the movies in which he has appeared. Although he can be seen in Thor, Thor: The Dark World, and Avengers: Age of Ultron, Heimdall to me is primarily an image, but I like this character for what I don’t know about him precisely because he allows my imagination to run freely. It’s not what he is as much as what he triggers by association. I’m sure that Idris Elba, the actor who portrays him, has much to do with this. His screen persona gives an impression of height armored and helmeted in gold, while the depth of his voice underscores the fierceness and loyalty of his character.

Heimdall is the guardian of the Bifrost (rainbow bridge) which serves as the teleportation system of Asgard. His eyes miss nothing – well, almost nothing. Loki did manage to slip some intruders past him once, and Thor’s likable but villainous brother  also found a type of “back door” in and out of the kingdom. Still, how many of us can claim that we’ve only made two mistakes?

Having worked under educational administrators who can be rather hidebound about rules (much less so their intelligent interpretation), I appreciate that the keeper of the bridge recognizes when it is necessary to break the letter of the law in order to serve its spirit. I understand that he will be seen again in Thor: Ragnarok, and I look forward to seeing how this potentially interesting character will be further developed.

The Modern Pantheon: Loki

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.

Loki (played magnificently by Tom Hiddleston) is a god. Just ask him:

The above scene from The Avengers (2012, directed by Joss Whedon), in which Loki’s argument is rendered moot by the Hulk, reminds me of a passage from the second chapter of Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton (perhaps my favorite author).

“So you are the Creator and Redeemer of the world: but what a small world it must be! What a little heaven you must inhabit, with angels no bigger than butterflies! How sad it must be to be God; and an inadequate God! Is there really no life fuller and no love more marvellous than yours; and is it really in your small and painful pity that all flesh must put its faith? How much happier you would be, how much more of you there would be, if the hammer of a higher God could smash your small cosmos, scattering the stars like spangles, and leave you in the open, free like other men to look up as well as down!”

This kind of ambition – to dominate, to subjugate, to exalt oneself above others – is madness. By human standards, it may even be seen as an entirely reasonable madness. Chesterton again:

The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything but his reason.

And the cure?

I mean that if you or I were dealing with a mind that is growing morbid, we should be chiefly concerned not so much to give it arguments as to give it air, to convince it that there was something cleaner and cooler outside the suffocation of a single argument.

In various ways, I suppose we are all mad, that we all consider ourselves gods. Time to breathe, Loki. Otherwise, yourself is all you get.