Why is Loki so Hot?

Really? THIS guy is a heart-throb? Why is Loki so hot?

About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.

9 comments

  1. Hi Doug,

    While I think you start off on the right track, you unfortunately decide to pick on some very sexist tropes as an explanation. I’d argue that Loki’s appeal is more archetypal.

    For a start, you assume most of his fans are female, when I think he is just as popular with males. He’s a great villain from Marvel, who, if we’re honest, hasn’t really had a villain as good as he is. He’s charming, often gets the best lines, has a tragic back-story and is very unpredictable, often leading to the best and most unexpected turns in the movie.

    As far as fantasies go, a villain is freed from a moral creed and therefore can do what he likes with his abilities, perhaps making him a different sort of wish fulfillment vehicle than a hero, who has hero baggage and responsibilities. People love villains – you’ve seen them clamor over the Joker, Bane, Disney Villains and more – Marvel just hasn’t managed to deliver another villain as fun and interesting as Loki yet (something they need to remedy, and with the Winter Soldier and Nebula I think they are trying to recreate).

    Saying women like Loki because they want to ‘Nurse’ him, because they want to ‘dominated’ by him, uses some very troubling language. I’m not saying that elements of that aren’t true – I think people do feel sorry for him, and may want to help him. Yes, woobie factor. Those are still very gendered words and concepts that aren’t at all true.

    You forget that characters who get trapped in a cycle of self-perpetuated tragedy are hallmarks of some of the greatest figures in drama. THOR may not be Shakespeare, but it certainly aspires to be. When I first saw ‘THOR’ I recognized them drawing from several Shakespearean plays. Having just finished King Lear, I saw heavy tones of Edgar and Edmund in Thor and Loki, and the dynamic between legitimate and illegitimate brothers.

    Sure, it’s a comic book movie, and I’d love for people to swoon over Edmund as much as Loki, but those themes are still effective. I think people find Loki very identifiable, as well as entertaining. We have a lot of romantic relationships on screen but it’s rare to see siblinghood at the center of a blockbuster. I myself recognized elements of my own brother relationship.

    Or maybe I’m wrong and girls really do want to put a bandaid on his bleeding heart before sexing his problems away. I sincerely think you are judging a majority fanbase by a hyperactive and vocal minority, and even then a bit harshly and certainly not with the clever dissection and discerning commentary I usually associate with you and your editorials. So often you see the good in passion, but here it feels like you’re deriding it. Not the Doug I’m used to, nor the one who made such an endearing Fan Girl character in your later sketches. This was truly a disappointment for me and I think others who saw this as an opportunity to look at a wider cultural phenomenon. Could I suggest a ‘Why we Love Villains?’ Editorial in future? I’d be interested to hear your opinion on that, without assuming gender and condescending opinions.

    I did, however, find this interesting article. I don’t necessarily agree with everything it says, but it certainly raised some interesting ideas about why women often identify with a villain.

    https://thefanmetareader.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/hannibal-lecter-and-the-subversion-of-the-male-gaze-by-tenebrica/

    It talks about how female traits are often villified in film and given to villains, and so women sometime identify with them and their struggles as mirroring their own in a society that continues to cast the feminine as inferior or vile. Loki is noticeably more effeminate than the other heroes, and certainly Thor (despite that beautiful Barbie mane you point out.) It may be worth a scan.

    Cheers, and thanks for taking the time to read this.

    • I agree with your post so much.

    • Well this is a bit late (I’ve started watching my way back through NC’s reviews), but I want to say, what a wonderful counterpoint and, as a female, okay, yes, I have certainly read my share of women who want to ‘turn him good’. And it MAKES ME SICK. Not because they don’t have a right to feel how they want about the movie or any particular character. No, I just really hate it when me falling madly for the villain automatically = “ooh a woman that likes Loki, CLEARLY she wants to be his nursemaid/slave”. So here I am, an actual real live woman, to explain why *I* fall madly in love with a good villain:

      First and foremost, it’s because I want to rule the fucking planet *with* him. Annnnd maybe give him a few pointers on how to be a smarter evil villain. Or if he’s completely stupid, just rule the world instead of him. I mean, I *love* adventure movies, but I find that so often both villain and hero are *so* stupid that it leaves me sputtering with rage over how much better a job I would have done in their places. So when I find a good villain or hero, you’re damn right I’m going to flip my shit over them. I mean look at Thor. He’s an idiot. He’s a well meaning idiot, but still, definitely an idiot. You really think I’m going to cheer for that egotistical sack of testosterone in the first movie just because he’s got a pretty face and the movie *tells* me that’s who I’m supposed to be cheering for? Fuck that, if he’d been put in charge at that point it’d have been a fucking disaster. He only got even remotely better (and as of Avengers: Age of Ultron, my opinion has only been raised as far as “probably wouldn’t completely fuck shit up on the first day if you put him in charge”) because of Loki.

      Loki on the other hand – well, let’s just say that I really hate it when people bring up his ‘tragic backstory’ and suggest it should be explored more. WHO THE FUCK CARES, I just want a villain who really ENJOYS being a villain AND is VERY good at it. A villain who doesn’t just chew that scenery, but swallows it whole and then spits it back out in the hero’s face! This is why I love villains like Ursula and the Joker and why I even managed to find something to love in Batman Forever, because goddammit, it sucks monkey nuggets, but it’s still got Tommy Lee Jones having *way* too much fun as a villain in it. At most they brush against a reason why the villain has a grudge against the hero, then they drop it and go back to maniacal laughter, villainous plans, and henchmen being blown up left and right. That is why I have insanely, probably completely unrealistic hopes for Thanos. From what little we’ve been shown, he looks like a villain who’s really, really going to enjoy fucking shit up for the sheer joy of being evil. And that is why the villains in The Dark World, Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy all left me cold. Too much emo backstory, don’t care, now in my head they’ve just been reduced to petulant whiners.

      To me, Loki filled that ‘good villain’ role admirably in the first Avengers movie – those smiles he gives when he’s really enjoying himself sent thrills of delight up my spine. Okay, so he still had a bit of the “I’m a supervillain because daddy didn’t love me enough” issue going on. But they only brushed against it, and then got back to the action. On top of that, I love his ambiguity. Evil one moment, helpful the ne–HAH just kidding, totally evil scheming bastard all along. Beautiful. My *fear* is that they’ll go along with that goddamn trope of “women want a bad boy to rehabilitate”, combine it with “and we’ve suddenly discovered that there are a lot of women out there who might pay money to see our shit” (hi, been there since I was a kid, thanks for noticing), travel along that line to “so let’s pander to them in the cheapest, laziest way possible”, and make him into the emo sobbing wreck that a lot of heroes have become (looking at you, Spiderman/Batman/Superman) to cater to that bullshit. So dear hollywood: please don’t listen to this bullshit of “that’s what women want”. SOME women want that, and some men do too, but there are also those of us out there who are really and truly happy when a villain is just a villain. Also, just a side note while we’re on the topic of women and adventure stories… I swear to god that if you ever, EVER make a woman as badass as Frigga again and then WASTE her like that, *I* will become a supervillain. And my target will be anybody and everybody involved with a script that says “hey, hey, we got two badass women here. Let’s make sure the women in the audience out there know about them, but then concentrate on the bland flavorless girlfriend character and leave those two out of it!”

  2. Hi Doug,

    While I think you start off on the right track, you unfortunately decide to pick on some very sexist tropes as an explanation. I’d argue that Loki’s appeal is more archetypal.

    For a start, you assume most of his fans are female, when I think he is just as popular with males. He’s a great villain from Marvel, who, if we’re honest, hasn’t really had a villain as good as he is. He’s charming, often gets the best lines, has a tragic back-story and is very unpredictable, often leading to the best and most unexpected turns in the movie.

    As far as fantasies go, a villain is freed from a moral creed and therefore can do what he likes with his abilities, perhaps making him a different sort of wish fulfillment vehicle than a hero, who has hero baggage and responsibilities. People love villains – you’ve seen them clamor over the Joker, Bane, Disney Villains and more – Marvel just hasn’t managed to deliver another villain as fun and interesting as Loki yet (something they need to remedy, and with the Winter Soldier and Nebula I think they are trying to recreate).

    Saying women like Loki because they want to ‘Nurse’ him, because they want to ‘dominated’ by him, uses some very troubling language. I’m not saying that elements of that aren’t true – I think people do feel sorry for him, and may want to help him. Yes, woobie factor. Those are still very gendered words and concepts with unfortunate histories.

    You forget that characters who get trapped in a cycle of self-perpetuated tragedy are hallmarks of some of the greatest figures in drama. THOR may not be Shakespeare, but it certainly aspires to be. When I first saw ‘THOR’ I recognized them drawing from several Shakespearean plays. Having just finished King Lear, I saw heavy tones of Edgar and Edmund in Thor and Loki, and the dynamic between legitimate and illegitimate brothers.

    Sure, it’s a comic book movie, and I’d love for people to swoon over Edmund as much as Loki, but those themes are still effective. I think people find Loki very identifiable, as well as entertaining. We have a lot of romantic relationships on screen but it’s rare to see siblinghood at the center of a blockbuster. I myself recognized elements of my own brother relationship.

    Or maybe I’m wrong and girls really do want to put a bandaid on his bleeding heart before sexing his problems away. I sincerely think you are judging a majority fanbase by a hyperactive and vocal minority, and even then a bit harshly and certainly not with the clever dissection and discerning commentary I usually associate with you and your editorials. So often you see the good in passion, but here it feels like you’re deriding it. Not the Doug I’m used to, nor the one who made such an endearing Fan Girl character in your later sketches. This was truly a disappointment for me and I think others who saw this as an opportunity to look at a wider cultural phenomenon. Could I suggest a ‘Why we Love Villains?’ Editorial in future? I’d be interested to hear your opinion on that, without assuming gender and condescending opinions.

    I did, however, find this interesting article on some of the themes you mention. I don’t necessarily agree with everything it says, but it certainly raised some interesting ideas about why women often identify with a villain.

    https://thefanmetareader.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/hannibal-lecter-and-the-subversion-of-the-male-gaze-by-tenebrica/

    It talks about how female traits are often villified in film and given to villains, and so women sometimes identify with them and their struggles as mirroring their own in a society that continues to cast the feminine as inferior or vile. Loki is noticeably more effeminate than the other heroes, and certainly Thor (despite that beautiful Barbie mane you point out.) It’s worth a scan.

    Cheers, and thanks for taking the time to read this.

  3. Victoria Heckman

    I still find this to be an interesting quickie examination of fan appeal.
    Yes, there is a bit of gender stereotyping in the elaborations, as I’m sure there are some male fans out there who love Loki just as much for various reasons, but the basic points of Actor, Power, Bad Boy and Woobie aren’t necessarily wrong. Reasoning varies from fan to fan, but it still tends to boil down to those elements, or similar elements.

    In my experience as a former fan girl of Severus Snape and still a fan girl of Scarecrow from “Batman TAS”, I think A LOT of it has to do with the actor and/or aesthetic choices put into the character. It’s one thing to write your character as a bad guy with a tragic backstory, it’s another if you can find an actor who can really pull it off with just the right amount of finesse and charm. (And a sense of humor every now and then helps.) And to top it off you may also have the perfect character design that just clicks with some audiences.

    I also think with the Bad Boy aspect there’s that rather Gothic sense of wanting to explore the dark side of our psyches. There’s definitely a sense of rebellion to it when you’re a teenager. And fantasizing about going on wicked, world-destroying adventures with a villain that you like is a good way of exploring that part of your mind.
    I like to call it the “Heathcliff Conundrum”.

  4. Nah, it’s really quite simple. It’s because he is so utterly and stereotypically British. He’s got the whole British gentleman thing going on while simultaneously mixing the villainous bad boy in.

  5. Oh! Oh! I thought of another reason.

    See, both my sister and I think the male leads in the Marvel movies (excluding the few minority supporting characters) are all handsome in the exact same way. Seriously, they almost always have the same face, the same jaw, the same kind of eyes, etc., what general consensus now seems to consider the ideal male. (At least, when it comes to white male leads.)

    Whereas Tom Hiddleston does not. He is what folks like my mother would call “geeky cute”.
    We see his performance as Loki and we love him because even though he is, as you put it, “not traditionally good-looking” he’s got a lot of confidence in who he is and he can make that part of the character. That’s something anyone of any age and gender can respect. (Also, if you’ve seen the “I Dare You Not To Fall In Love With Tom Hiddleston” video, the guy is just so damn charming. No one can resist his smile! X3)

    Not only can women identify with/be attracted to that, so can a lot of guys who don’t meet/care for our narrow ideals of manliness. After all, dudes like to cosplay as Loki as well. And they wouldn’t do that if they didn’t like/identify with Loki to a certain degree in the first place.

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