The Avengers (2012) – The 6th Marvel Cinematic Universe Film – Directed by Joss Whedon – Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgård, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, Alexis Denisof, Stan Lee, Powers Boothe, Lou Ferrigno, and Harry Dean Stanton.
Welcome to the tenth character-specific reaction to Joss Whedon’s THE AVENGERS. I’ve already written a 4,200+ word review of the film, but that wasn’t nearly enough to cover everything I wanted to talk about, so I’m going to write character-specific reactions to delve a bit deeper into the film. You can find all of the relevant AVENGERS links at the bottom of this post.
Also, please note that these reactions are evolving as we go. If you see some line I got wrong or a detail I overlooked, by all means let me know. I’ve seen the movie twice, but it’s a long movie and the audience reacts wildly in parts, so some things get lost or forgotten or misinterpreted. And I’m sure some of the quotes are wrong, but I will correct the mistakes as I become aware of them. Don’t be surprised if these reactions grow a bit in the coming days.
Let me be clear about what’s coming: SPOILERS. Lots and lots of SPOILERS. Read ahead only if you’re cool with that. If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want things ruined, come on back when you do.
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“How desperate are you? That you call on such lost creatures to defend you?”
“How desperate am I? You threaten my world with war, you steal a force you can’t hope to control, you talk about peace, and you kill ’cause it’s fun. You have made me very desperate. You might not be glad that you did.”
“Ooh, it burns you to have come so close. To have the Tesseract, to have power. Unlimited power. And for what? A warm light for all mankind to share? And then to be reminded what real power is.”
“Well, let me know if ‘real power’ wants a magazine or something.”
Of all the characters in MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS, it’s Loki that is the most straightforward.
It’s not that Loki is a bad character or an uninteresting character, or that Tom Hiddleston did a bland job, because Loki is an incredibly interesting character and Tom Hiddleston delivered as fine a performance as anyone in the movie. The problem is that Loki is undressed throughout the movie and so I’m left with little to reveal and much to summarize, which is much less interesting to spend my time on. Which makes me feel like a bit of a jerk, because, as I said, Loki and Hiddleston both bring a lot to the table.
For instance, we learn from Thor (Chris Hemsworth) that Loki is motivated, in part, to destroy and rule the Earth because Thor has chosen to protect it. So go ahead and check the box for the little brother with an inferiority complex. What strikes me about the Thor and Loki relationship here is how Loki is both determined to sever the relationship and yet still dependent on it for his identity. He desires to reject Thor, yet his rejection of Thor ties him even closer to his brother than when they were kids, as Thor himself proves when he asks Loki to remember their childhood together. Where Thor is interested in the past as an attempt to heal their differences, Loki is interested in the past as a means of fueling his villainous acts.
We learn from the Other (Alexis Denisof) that Loki is charged with claiming the Tesseract in exchange for getting to use the Chitauri as his personal army as he attempts to subjugate the Earth. Just as importantly, we learn that Loki isn’t as powerful as he likes to think it is, which brings up an interesting point:
How the hell does Loki work as a character in this movie?
Joss Whedon puts almost all of the weight on his shoulders to be the Big Bad of the film, but after stealing the Tesseract and turning Hawkeye and Erik Selvig (Jeremy Renner and Stellan Skarsgård), all he really does is get himself captured – on purpose – and then get himself defeated intellectually by Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) and physically by the Hulk. Plus, for the entire film we know – we know – that there’s someone more powerful than him jerking his chain.
So how does he work? I think it comes down to this: 1. he’s entertaining as hell, 2. despite carrying most of the villainous weight, Whedon doesn’t overburden him, and instead uses Avenger-on-Avenger conflicts to create dramatic tension, and 3. until the Hulk takes him out, Loki just … keeps … coming.
Loki gets into verbal battles with Steve Rogers, some old dude in Germany, Nick Fury, Agent Coulson, Tony Stark, and Black Widow, and he pretty much loses all of them. He goes back and forth with Steve (Chris Evans) in Stuttgart and, at best, it’s a draw, as Steve’s, “You’re out of time” comeback is a bit weak. On the Helicarrier, both Fury (“Let me know if ‘real power’ wants a magazine or something”) and Coulson (“You lack conviction”) get the better of their exchanges with the Asgardian. The old dude in Germany delivers one of the most powerful lines in the film. After refusing to kneel before Loki, he tells the god, “There are always men like you,” and he doesn’t mean it as a compliment. The Stark/Loki confrontations are some of the most enjoyable in the film, and we see in their most memorable exchange how Whedon continually uses Loki to set up a witty comeback.
Loki: “Please tell me you’re going to appeal to my humanity.”
Stark: “Actually, I was going to threaten you.”
And later: “I have an army.”
Stark: “We have a Hulk.”
This conversational interplay is used throughout AVENGERS; Loki says something clever, and then someone else says something cleverer. One of Loki’s few victories is with Thor. “Listen to me, brother,” Thor implores just before Iron Man steals him away. Loki watches the two heroes go rocketing away and smirks, “I’m listening,” he says to the emptiness.
His best monologue comes during his imprisonment in the Hulk’s glass cage in the Helicarrier when Widow gets the better of him during an interrogation. Hiddleston delivers a very strong monologue as he rips into Tasha for her willingness to make a deal to save Hawkeye from Loki’s control, and get the “red” removed from her ledger: “Can you? Can you get out that much red? Barton told me everything. Your ledger is dripping, it’s gushing red, and you think saving a man no less virtuous than yourself will change anything? This is the basest sentimentality. This is a child at prayer… pathetic! You lie and kill in the service of liars and killers. You pretend to be separate, to have your own code, something that makes up for the horrors. But they are a part of you, and they will never go away!”
“You’re a monster,” Tasha insists, on the verge of tears.
“You brought the monster on board,” Loki sneers, which causes Tasha to drop the act as she now realizes that letting loose the Hulk is Loki’s play. “Thank you,” she says politely and Loki is flabbergasted that he was just bested.
Look at what’s gone on – Loki is getting his horned helmet handed to him all over the place, and yet he’s still entertaining in every single exchange and, most importantly, he doesn’t stop. Every setback is but a tiny speed bump for him. He never loses faith in his belief that he’s better than everyone else, or that his plan will ultimately work, so he just doesn’t stop going forward.
Even at the end of the movie, when the Hulk has slammed him around like an angry kid playing with a rag doll, leaving him battered and bruised on the floor, Loki is still pushing on. Waking up to find the entire Avengers’ roster staring him down, Loki remarks to Stark, “If it’s all the same to you, I’ll have that drink now.” Like a true schemer, Loki recognizes when it’s time to abandon one plan and start working on the next.
And that’s why Loki works for me despite being continuously chumped. He’s the mastermind of this Tesseract theft, and yet when one of his drones (Hawkeye) tells him he needs, “a distraction and an eyeball,” Loki goes to Stuttgart and gets Clint that eyeball, gives the archer his distraction, and then gets himself captured by the Avengers so he can sow the seeds of discontent from in close.
Tom Hiddleston is fantastic as Loki. Where every other actor survives the Robert Downey Jr. Experience by keeping to their character and surviving, Hiddleston is the one actor who can go right at Downey, matching his energy and intensity. I love, too, that where most superhero films treat villains as one-and-done antagonists, Loki’s story is growing right alongside every other Avenger. The idea of having a THOR movie without Loki now seems preposterous, and as exciting as the idea is that AVENGERS 2 will bring in Thanos, I hope they carve out space for Loki, too, because for all the talk that losing Clark Gregg is a negative, losing Hiddleston would be just as unfortunate.
THE AVENGERS REVIEW INDEX
THE AVENGERS: THE MOVIE REVIEW
THE AVENGERS: THE HAWKEYE REACTION
THE AVENGERS: THE AGENT COULSON REACTION
THE AVENGERS: THE BLACK WIDOW REACTION
THE AVENGERS: THE NICK FURY REACTION
THE AVENGERS: THE MARIA HILL REACTION
THE AVENGERS: THE CAPTAIN AMERICA REACTION
THE AVENGERS: THE CHITAURI/THANOS REACTION
THE AVENGERS: THE HULK REACTION
THE AVENGERS: THE THOR REACTION
THE AVENGERS: THE LOKI REACTION
THE AVENGERS: THE IRON MAN REACTION
THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REVIEW INDEX