Superiority Complex

I truly don't believe that Loki is an "evil" character. There are reasons for every action a person takes, even if they are not immediately obvious. With an undergraduate degree in psychology, I found it difficult not to notice some pathology when trying to better understand some of his behaviors. The concept of a superiority complex was one of the first things that jumped out at me when considering why he was so adamant about being a king. A superiority complex is a type of defense mechanism that was originally discussed by Alfred Adler. He theorized individuals who felt badly about themselves, had low self-esteem and ultimately just felt inferior to others often act superior to conceal their painful emotions. Their sense of inferiority is just too much for them to bear. Such overcompensation done to an extreme, such as becoming aggressive when their superiority is challenged, starts to enter into pathological territory.

Loki clearly asserts his superiority on a number of occasions in both Thor and The Avengers. He wants to be king, he wants to rule and he wants others to kneel before him. However, I would argue his acts of superiority and sense of pride appear to be rather fragile based on the following observations:

● Loki desperately tries to prove himself after finding out he's not really Odin's son. He relies on extreme methods such as killing Laufey through means of deceit that could have been dangerous to the people of Asgard, trying to destroy all of Jotunheim and even resorting to killing Thor, the only real threat to his superiority, in order to make sure nothing could get in his way. He seemed willing to do anything in order to feel worthy.

● Loki immediately lashes out on others who imply he is not fit to be a king, rule over others or is not superior to others. He snaps at The Other when it mentions him being cast out of Asgard, he yells at Thor when he is told the throne suits him ill and even goes on a mini rampage about being superior before the Hulk beats him into the ground toward the end of The Avengers.

● Loki's calm, confident demeanor quickly becomes plagued with doubt and insecurity when others stand up to him. He clearly panics when Phil tells him he isn't going to win as he is dying. He also loses his composure when Tony Stark is bluffing/stalling toward the end of The Avengers with no armor on. If Loki truly felt superior to others and confident in himself, he wouldn't have become so easily rattled at the mere thought of his enemies' confidence despite their situations looking bleak.

● Loki becomes visibly irritated any time anyone mentions Thor in front of him. Simply hearing his brother's name puts him on the defensive. Why? Because Loki grew up in Thor's shadow and was consistently second best to his brother. Hearing "Thor" likely reminds him of his feelings of inferiority and triggers an aggressive response to beat those feelings back down under the surface.

After accepting that Loki's pride and grandiose statements are seemingly fragile, one has to next question why he feels so inferior to begin with. Loki makes comments about growing up in Thor's shadow and in a deleted scene from Thor: The Dark World, Frigga reinforces this idea by telling Thor that he and his father cast large shadows. Loki could not match Thor in stature, strength or size. He is clearly not built to be a warrior in the way Thor was. Loki had to learn magic and illusions in order to even the playing field. While Thor likely spent more time bonding with Odin, I would assume Loki spent more time with Frigga based on his feelings for her and that she taught him what he knows. Odin was a strong warrior that both boys looked up to greatly, but only Thor could really hope to become. Loki perceived Odin favoring Thor even before he knew of his own heritage, too. Further, all of their friends are also warriors. Loki may have felt even more left out at times when growing up because he was the only one in their group who was different. I wouldn't be surprised if he was teased for being "weak" or a "coward" for hiding behind illusions. Kids will be kids, after all. Despite Odin and Frigga trying to ensure he never felt different, it would seem Loki was too perceptive to be shielded from the entire truth. He knew he was different and that he would always be second when compared to his brother.

Loki's self-esteem only drops further after finding out he is truly Laufey's son. As a Frost Giant, he realizes he would never be considered worthy enough to sit on the throne of Asgard. His real father abandoned him during a war and left him to die as well. Can you imagine what that would do to someone's sense of worth? Even for Frost Giant standards he was too small and not worth enough to be protected and cherished. Odin, the man he grew up looking up to, took him in out of pity and with hopes that he could be used as a means to bring peace between Asgard and Jotunheim. Loki perceives this news as himself just being a tool. Lastly, simply being a Frost Giant is devastating to his self-concept for more reasons than just because it isn't what he believed to be. Loki and Thor dreamed of becoming king and defeating the Frost Giants, just like their father. They learned that Frost Giants were to be feared because they were dangerous did bad things to the realms. With tears building in his eyes, Loki voices the following thoughts about himself:

"So I'm no more than another stolen relic, locked up here until you might have use of me."

"Why? Because I-I-I'm a monster that parents tell their children about at night?!"

I would argue that any remaining self-worth Loki had up until this point was thrown out the window during this conversation with Odin. He compares himself to a stolen relic with no inherent value and a monster that other people fear. I can't even imagine how badly Loki felt about himself in that moment of realization and processing. I do believe Odin's confession is a breaking point which changes his character from that moment forward, though. His facade of superiority and delusions of grandeur become much more intense as defense mechanisms in face of his shattering self-esteem.

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