Of all the gods that the North Germanic people worshiped, few would have expected the mischievous Loki to become the most popular pagan god of all time. But he has, and then some.
Loki is the trickster god of Norse mythology, and stands apart from the other gods in several ways. For one, his lineage is not entirely of the gods—at least one of his parents was a giant, and giants were the enemies of the gods.
He also shows a total lack of concern toward the other gods, lives only for his own pleasures and schemes, and fathers the creature that brings about the end of the world. He does sometimes try to make amends for his wrongs, but even then, it’s usually under the threat of death or worse.
So why do we love him? Mostly because he makes a great movie villain.
Since his debut in Thor, Loki of Asgard, played by Tom Hiddleston, has become not only the most popular god in entertainment, but one of the most popular villains ever—period.
The secret to his success? Charisma, and lots of it. Marvel’s Loki is sophisticated, learned, and aristocratic, and simply enjoys being a villain so much that we can’t help but smile along with him as he’s carrying out his schemes.
Audiences also can’t help but feel for Loki—he’s the underdog, a giant’s progeny taken in by the ruling family of Asgard—the home of the gods. There, he was treated well, but always second to Thor, the true son of Asgard’s king, Odin. That jealousy ate at Loki until it finally exploded in a wave of pained villainy that has propelled Hiddleston’s Loki through several Marvel films.
With more Marvel films coming along, as well as a slew of novels about Loki’s mythological life, this is one god whose story is going to keep getting told far into the future.