Character TraitsLike many characters, Loki has a multifaceted personality. He's certainly not a static character! At times I love him, and at others I cringe a little. When I think I have him figured out, he does something that leaves me re-considering! That being said, there are still a number of traits that stick out to me as defining features of Loki's character. First and foremost, Loki is incredibly intelligent, resourceful and motivated. While his brother and father have a tendency to rely on brute force and impulse, Loki has shown on a number of occasions that he generally thinks things through before acting. For example, when Thor stormed into Jotunheim and wanted to fight the Frost Giants, Loki quickly assesses the situation and tries to get his brother to pull back.
"Thor. Stop, and think. Look around you; we're surrounded." — Loki to Thor in ThorLoki also manages to frequently be one step ahead of the other characters—even when they seem to have him cornered. He is in the custody of S.H.I.E.L.D. throughout a good portion of The Avengers but hardly seems phased or concerned. As Nick Fury states, he's the only one who seems like he wants to be there! They soon find out that Loki has a number of things going on behind the scenes. Without the strong ability to carefully plan and strategize, there's no way he would be able to pull off a number of things he did. Loki is trained and gifted with the power of illusions, though, so I guess it's not surprising that he had to learn to plan quickly and be resourceful. He wouldn't have survived otherwise, due to his thin frame and stature in a world of warriors.
Loki's intelligence and resourcefulness becomes a bit tainted with his natural tendency to be quite cunning and devious. He is the god of mischief, after all! While his character in the Marvel universe is watered down compared to the Norse god in mythology, Loki greatly enjoys tricks and having fun whenever he is able to. Turning a cup of wine into snakes or allowing a few Frost Giants into Asgard to ruin Thor's coronation day is all in a day's work for Loki. Unfortunately, a harmless trick can quickly become somewhat dangerous, as Loki has a twisted sense of humor. He gets a thrill out of shocking people and doesn't see anything wrong with a few people getting hurt here and there. A few Asgardian soldiers were killed during the disruption of Thor's coronation day, for example. Further, the potential consequences of the Frost Giants getting their hands on the casket would be incredibly dangerous to not only Asgard, but all the nine realms.
"That was just a bit of fun, really. To ruin my brother’s big day and protect the realm from his idiotic rule for a little while longer." — Loki to Laufey in ThorAnother potentially dangerous trait of Loki's is his ability to remain calm and collected in almost all situations. It's really hard to tell what he's thinking unless he is overly pleased or angry. He is a great actor and certainly has quite the poker face. Needless to say, Loki is also a proficient liar and shows no remorse about lying straight to someone's face. It's difficult to tell if Loki is telling the truth or not because he is so convincing! I have noticed, however, that the producers make an effort to emphasize when Loki is lying by having his poker face falter slightly when no one is looking. Loki isn't a heartless person with no morals, though. Thor jokes about Loki being incapable of being sincere, but I don't feel this is true. Loki can normally act and control his illusions flawlessly. Even so, his acting skills deteriorate the minute he is overcome with strong emotions. He becomes incredibly sincere and expresses emotion in such a raw form that it almost seems unnatural for his normal reservedness. Therefore, rather than being simply heartless or ruthless, I think Loki is more manipulative because that is the way he's learned to get what he wants.
One last trait that really jumps out at me when considering Loki's character is how perceptive he is. He is not easily fooled or snuck up on by others (likely due to his ability to think two steps ahead). Loki is able to analyze a situation or a person and realize even slight differences or changes. Even before he hears the truth behind his heritage, for example, Loki is able to piece together that Odin took him as well as the casket from Jotunheim after the war. Additionally, he quickly sees how Jane has changed Thor before their fight in the observatory. When Frigga visits him in prison, Loki also realizes she is simply an illusion. Clearly then, Loki is highly attuned to other people and the situations around him. What I find interesting, however, is that despite his heightened perception of external events, he lacks self-awareness.
"Always so perceptive...of everyone but yourself." — Frigga to Loki in Thor: The Dark WorldFor a number of reasons that I've argued on other pages, Loki is unable to see how his own behaviors and the consequences he receives are linked. He's almost blind as to how his words and actions impact those around him and struggles to understand why they don't see his point of view. I would argue his lack of insight and heightened perception of external stimuli likely stems from his unwillingness to focus inward. It's easier to focus on others than to look inside and deal with negative emotions and a poor self-concept, after all.
Ultimately, I think labeling Loki as "good" or "bad" is too simplistic for his personality and role as a character. As his actor and a number of other figures have said, Loki walks the line between good and evil. He is manipulative to meet his own needs and also looks out for others' needs in his own way. He does some terrible things at the cost of many lives and also saves both Thor and Jane's lives. Loki is certainly the god of mischief, but he also has this very broken and raw part to him that makes him more complex than being just the "bad guy." I personally think that's what makes him so interesting. He keeps you on your toes because he basically does whatever he wants in the moment. Pegging a character like Loki down is difficult for that reason, but it's totally been worth the time I've spent thinking about him!
b a c k . c l e a r . f o r w a r d Loki and Thor are © Marvel and other rightful owners. Sympathy for the Devil is part of AFTER-DEATH.ORG