fialleril: [someday perhaps I will write that AU about warrior!Sif and fosteredJotunPrince!Loki] (Sif/Loki)
[personal profile] fialleril
Welp I finally saw that Thor movie. And I'mma talk to you about it, but first, there are some things you should probably know about me. 'Cause if you're expecting a balanced account of this movie, well I'm sorry, but you're going to be disappointed. Be warned: you are gonna hear a lot about Norse mythology, as well as the Marvel characters. I'm sorry; I just can't help myself.

So the first thing you should probably know is that I love mythological Loki the most. I know I've mentioned this before, but you don't even understand, internet. If I had to narrow all of the most foundational narratives in my life down to two - two narratives that have been with me for as long as I can remember, that I keep coming back to always, that have pretty much shaped who I am as a person - they would be these two characters/narratives: Persephone, and Loki. I met Loki as a kid, long before I knew words like genderqueer or ambiguity or even trickster, but he caught my imagination instantly. He knew all about the power of stories, and he had a quick tongue and a sense of fun and adventure and he could get out of anything. Loki's defining characteristic is this: when presented with an either/or choice and told that he has to choose, Loki says no. Both hero and villain, both Jotun and one of the Aesir, both man and woman, both mother and father, both human and horse and fly and seal and whatever the hell else Loki wants to be. For a kid who saw herself as fundamentally non-gendered, but who was constantly being pressured to be female (and to be female in a certain way), Loki's ambiguous, gender-fluid narrative was ridiculously powerful. Still is.

What this means, among many other things, is that I can and will love all versions of Loki I come across, regardless of mythological accuracy or actual portrayal of ambiguity. There are more than enough narratives out there that portray him as flatly evil, but whatever, I just reinsert the ambiguity myself.

So pretty much what I'm saying is that this review is gonna be all about Loki. Also possibly about how Odin is the worst ever. Seriously. I once held a contest for myself to see whether Zeus or Odin was the greatest tool of all time ever, and it was a close thing, but Odin won.

So, you know, just clearing up expectations. By this point you know whether you want to read this or not.

I mentioned before, in my post about this prior to seeing the movie, that it was going to take a lot of work to make me interested in Thor in and of himself. And, I'll just be honest at the outset, the movie was good, but it wasn't that good. Sorry Thor. I'm still just not that into you. Jane, on the other hand, was pretty excellent, and I wish we could have seen more (any) of her actual research. Also I am a little bit in love with Darcy now? She is so delightfully snarky: my greatest weakness.

But as expected most of this is gonna be about the Aesir Asgardians. For simplicity's sake, let me employ some bullet points!

- In Marvelverse (or at least the movie of it), Loki is neither a shapeshifter nor, apparently, genderqueer, nor even much of a trickster. But he is still Loki. And he's actually a good deal more resonant with his mythological self, despite having very different circumstances, than I had expected him to be. The close friendship with Thor that turns into bitter enmity (but you can tell even then that neither of them really want it to be that way); the way, in spite of his silver tongue, he still spends most of his life being manipulated by Odin, king of tools; his standing rivalry/enmity with Heimdall; his never-explicitly-stated-but-always-kind-of-there identification with the fire giant Surt (at least, I'm assuming that's who the robot was); but most of all his breakdown, which, despite having entirely different causes, still has a lot of emotional resonance.

- Speaking of that breakdown: The Norse mythology basically falls on a continuum between Loki as friend and helper of the gods, and Loki as apocalyptic bringer of total destruction. The movie felt like nothing so much as a condensed version of how that transition happened. How Loki went from the playful trickster to someone who was ready to just burn it all down. (Full confession: as a kid I wholeheartedly rooted for Loki and the Jotuns at Ragnarok. Now, I see Ragnarok as more nuanced, a tragedy on all sides that could have been avoided if only... But there's still the little kid in me that gets a certain narrative satisfaction in watching Loki burn it all down.)

But enough about the mythology, I should say at least a little about the movie itself, right?

- Loki's breakdown into complete and utter self-loathing was painful to watch. I do think the movie could have done more to build up to it, and in particular it would have been nice to see a few brotherly/friendly moments between Loki and Thor, before the Jotunheim incident, if only to build into how those moments totally broke down later. Still, there was enough there (and probably I was reinserting enough of my own feelings about myth!Loki) that it offered a pretty powerful portrait of a guy living out of a completely colonized mind. He's spent his whole life hearing that the frost giants are pure, unadulterated evil, that they do nothing but destroy, that Asgard is built at least in part as a fortress against them. The Jotuns are the monsters who lurked under his bed as a child, the things with teeth in the closet. Be a good boy or the Jotuns will come for you.

Odin talks big talk about a good king knowing how to avoid a fight, but all of his stories, the ones he's raised his sons on since infancy, are about his military exploits in Jotunheim. Remember the time father slew a dozen Jotuns with his spear? Oh yes. Thor says he's going to be as great a giant killer someday, and Odin scolds him, but who put the idea in his head in the first place? Who told him the stories that shaped his moral thinking, that led him to see giant-killing as heroic? There is a reason that Thor and Loki both think going into Jotunheim and starting a war would be a good idea (even if Thor is the only one initially willing to do it). Kids do not just come up with these things by themselves in a vacuum.

- And when Loki finally finds out what he is! (What he is, you see. It's there in the language. A Jotun is not a who; a Jotun is a monster.) Odin follows through with like a laundry list of all the worst possible ways you could respond to something like that: You're my son! (I just never really treated you like you were! No big!) I thought I could use you to tie Asgard and Jotunheim together! (Except I never actually bothered telling either you or the Asgardians or the Jotuns themselves that you were a Jotun! And I raised you to think that all Jotuns are evil, mindless, destructive brutes!) I found you as a baby just lying around and decided to save you! (Actually, I found you after I had beaten your father senseless and left him for dead, but who's counting!) Oh, you're really upset about this and in the middle of an existential crisis? Okay, this is the perfect time for me to take an Odin Sleep!

See also: Odin! He beat out Zeus for the title of Greatest Tool of All Time, five centuries running!

- And, and! That moment when Loki is trying to wipe out all the frost giants ever, to prove to himself and his enormous tool of a father that he is a true Asgardian and not a monster. That moment when he's fighting Thor, and Thor is all, "You can't wipe out all the Jotuns ever!" And Loki goes all still and then gets that utterly broken, twisted grin on his face, and it's so, so obvious that he's thinking, "I can't, can I? Except... Yes, I can. I just have to take myself with them." And, oh god, it's so obvious that he kind of wants Thor to kill him there, if only he can make sure that Jotunheim goes first, because all the monsters have to die.

And I just. I can't even deal with that. This poor totally colonized, broken kid.

I will tell you a secret, internet. I think I want this Loki to get his Ragnarok even more than the mythical Loki. Except, no, I tell a lie, what I really want is for him to get the fuck away from Asgard and all it's horribleness, go to Midgard, get some friends and some therapy, and just have a happy life. Thor can come too, and reunite with Jane. Sif can come too and reunite with Loki, and so can the Warriors Three, but only if they learn some things. Everybody else can stay in Asgard and fuck off.

- Also I should maybe add that thanks to certain persons on tumblr, I went into this movie already shipping Sif/Loki, and therefore saw all sorts of things I honestly probably wouldn't have seen otherwise. I regret nothing.

- Can I tell you a thing that really disappointed me about this movie? The fact that they made Loki the traitor in Asgard, and the guy who initially let the Jotuns in. Because I am capable of reinserting ambiguity into anything concerning any version of Loki, I can work with this, can see it as part of his general feelings about monsters, and part of the lead up to his breakdown, but I'm just not sure if it was intended that way. And I'm just...

I mean, I'm sitting there in the theater, and even before they get to the reveal, when the Warriors Three are just sitting around, casually suggesting that Loki is a tricky fellow who knows some magic, so he's totally the culprit for this Jotun incursion (which, ugh, ugh ugh ugh), and the lady sitting next to me is like, "*gasp* The brother is evil!" And I'm just sitting there like, "UGH, NO, THAT IS NOT HOW IT IS, SHUT IT DOWN, STOP EVERYTHING."

- On a similar note, I was equally frustrated with how all the frost giants were actually portrayed as wholly and irredeemably evil just by virtue of being frost giants. It would be entirely too easy to watch this movie and conclude that Loki went bad because "blood won out," and that is just unspeakably gross and horrible.

- More horrible things: Odin is just a terrible human being. I mean, we have discussed this, but it's worth saying again. Seriously. He is just awful. I think it's pretty obvious how he is an abusive dad to Loki, but I would like to point out that he is also abusive and awful to Thor! Yes, Thor's actions in going to Jotunheim and very likely starting a war were pretty awful themselves, but the way a decent human being reacts to that is not to verbally assault the guy, disown him, strip him of everything that (in his eyes at least) makes him himself, and then literally throw him down to earth to be a homeless wanderer with no food, money, clothes, or anything, with the understanding that he can only come back when he's "learned his lesson" and is "worthy." No. That is not acceptable behavior, okay.

- And speaking of, how much do I hate Thor's final lines to Odin? Ha ha there is not a number high enough in the universe. Odin is the wisest of all kings and the best possible father? WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK? Thor, kid, I realize that you don't know even the half of what went on with Loki or why he ended up cracking the way he did, but dude, you still know what happened to you. And that was not okay! What I'm saying is I think Thor is every bit as messed up by Odin's awfulness as Loki is, just in different ways. (Which brings us back to how they should both totally abandon Asgard and just go live on Midgard and get some therapy together and become friends again and make out with their girlfriends.)

- Of all the awful tragic things in this movie, the one I am almost most upset by is how Laufey never found out that Loki was his lost son. I mean, how awful is that? Odin left him for dead all these years ago and then stole his kid, except Laufey clearly thinks that his son is dead. And he almost kills him a couple of times because he thinks he's just another Asgardian. And then, oh god, when Loki kills Laufey because he is Odin's son. It is just awful.

- Speaking of Laufey, I noticed that there were no lady frost giants. Ever, I don't think. And then when Odin beats up Laufey and leaves him for dead, he just finds this baby lying around, right, and his father is dead but where is his mother?

Unless I am actually on to something with my last post, and Laufey really is Loki's mother as in the mythology? Maybe all frost giants are bi-gendered! That would be excellent.

- Also, total aside, but I have concluded that movie!Sif bears the closest resemblance in mythology not to Sif, but to Freyja. In fact her role is pretty much Freyja all around. I'm assuming they named her Sif to give her that connection to Thor?


So in conclusion: The movie was good, though I would have preferred more buildup for Loki and some actual characterization for the frost giants. Loki was heartbreaking. Odin was the actual worst. Sif was pretty great. Jane was delightful. Darcy was the actual greatest. Thor was okay I guess, but let's not lie, I wasn't watching it for him.

I will almost certainly not bother with watching the Avengers movie. Mainly because I don't actually care about...any of the Avengers, really, except for maybe Thor, but he is only okay and not really enough to grab my interest. And I have zero interest in watching Loki be a one-dimensionally evil villain bent on world domination. (World domination is so not his style, okay, not in any universe. Myth!Loki is more into world destruction, and movie!Loki didn't even want to be king, let alone ruler of the universe.)

I also will probably not end up writing fic for this verse, although you never can tell. I was actually holding off watching this movie because I was afraid it would mess with my Norse Myth writing mojo, but if anything it's only strengthened it, so that's good.

Gonna go work on my epic, 6000 words and counting Loki fic now. And maybe read some movieverse Sif/Loki, because this is my life now I guess.
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