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Loki and Spike, some thoughts

Forgive the not very good icon. I made it myself.

I have no time at the moment, but anyway, some thoughts (which I'm sure someone else has already thought and expressed more eloquently) on (according to Joss Whedon) Loki being 'the new Spike.'

ETA: I should probably state that when Joss said this, he was probably just referring to the fan (or fangirl) reaction to Loki being similar to the reaction to Spike, not implying that he thought the characters were that similar in other ways.



I should really bullet point this, I suppose, due to aforementioned having no time.

Similarities

1) Clearly, ignoring the physical aspect would be silly, so yes, there's the whole cheekbones thing going on with both actors (both of whom also are very good at interacting with their fans). But it's more than that. Both are very good at portraying a sort of emotional vulnerability that's very attractive, it cannot be denied.

2) This segues in to the whole redeem the bad boy trope, which most of us (at least around these parts) who love both characters are wary of because of being burned in the past, especially in anything Whedon-penned. Joss will pull that rug from under you at some point. Best to be prepared. (He did it with Spike in Seeing Red, and Loki calling the Black Widow an effing c**t (in so many words) and threatening to do not explicit but probably extremely unpleasant things to her when he gets out of his cage has the same effect to a much lesser extent).

The message being hammered home in both cases is, This is not a nice guy. Silly little girlies beware. Which is of course a valid message, if very patronising.

3) Both characters get a kick out of causing mayhem.

4) Both characters suffer from being put in the shade by an annoying alpha-male, who is a lot less intelligent than they are (and yes, I really do think Spike is more intelligent than Angel, though neither of them is exactly a genius).

5) Joss at least (and probably not just him) believes that less is more in the case of both characters, both of whom take up far more space in the fannish imagination than their role in the show/movie would warrant (though clearly this is not true of Loki in the first Thor movie or in Avengers where he was the principle villain, but it is true now. It's possible that Marvel will struggle to work out what to do with the character in future movies even more than they seem to have struggled with his role in Thor: the Dark World. Spike, meanwhile, after his heroic death in Chosen, has been suffering from continuous '"What the hell do we do with this inexplicably (to us) popular character?' syndrome (and if you don't believe me, try reading the Buffy comics - or better yet, don't).

There, though, I think the similarities end.

Differences

With reference to 3) above, while Spike (both souled and unsouled) certainly enjoys a bit of mayhem, he's not actually as much of a rebel as he thinks he is, and a lot of his supposed 'bad boy' act is bluster to hide the quivering, would-be romantic poet within. Loki, meanwhile, really loves chaos (or so he says. Actually, he most of all seems to want to be king of Asgard, which is probably not something you can successfully do when things are too chaotic. Hmm, maybe this should be under 'similarities'?)

Re: 4) The difference here is that, with Thor and Loki the rivalry is only one way. Loki is jealous of Thor. Thor (who is a much nicer person than Angel/Angelus, if not nearly as complex) is not jealous of Loki. I think with Spike and Angel it's very much a two-way street.

Final difference, Spike is an original character created by Joss Whedon. What happens to him is entirely up to Joss (even if that means Joss telling Scott Allie or some comic book writer, "Do what you like with him. I don't care,"). He's also actually redeemable and (potentially at least) capable of becoming a good person. Loki, on the other hand, because of the weight of Marvel comics history (during most of which he's been a horrible, horrible villain), not to mention the role of Loki in Norse mythology (not to mention Loki from the movies is probably quite mad), isn't.

Redeemable, that is. The comics version of the character was created as a nemesis for Thor. He may not always be Thor's chief antagonist in the movies, but he'll never (IMO) stray too far from that role.

Unless they kill him again and bring him back as a kid, of course. ;)

Okay, that was all a bit pointless and incoherent. Better get back to packing boxes.

:sigh:

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
shipperx
Mar. 6th, 2014 04:24 pm (UTC)
This is not a nice guy. Silly little girlies beware.

I've got a rant/post bubbling in me about what a patronizing, paternalistic sexist attitude this truly is. Not inspired by this but by a series of books I've been reading where it really rather struck me that the way that men interact with superhero narratives and the way that women react to superhero narratives (that virtually always focus on male characters {other than the token 'bad ass' like Scarlet Widow who really isn't given all that much personal character development} is fundamentally different.)

Fanboys tend to see heroes as wish fulfilment or avatars. I don't know that women tend to interact with male superheroes in the same way. In fact, USUALLY the primary way that female characters are allowed to interact is through love interest and their most primary and active impact on the narrative is in the form of relationships. Meaning, quite often the only ACTIVE thing a heroine is allowed is to being about change in the relationship or someone's character arcs. Thus when they actively try to strip out THAT fantasy from the story (that women can effect emotional change in characters) you're frequently stripping female characters of any sort of actual narrative power or pivotal influence in the story. They're disempowered and made mostly irrelevant (beyond token presence). So, when the stompy footed writer says that no, no, no(!) women cannot bring about any sort of change in a misguided character or dare to aspire to redeem a character in any way, females are often denied ANY active emotional/narrative role except bystander, victim, or sidekick, and it's much the same for the female fan because it's often through these emotional avenues that they relate to the narrative to begin with. (This also holds true, I think, in some of the female appropriation of m/m slash where it's still through an emotional ship that a female fan is interacting with the narrative. The dynamic is still the same. It's still the female fan interaction with the narrative being an action relating to causing changes in the emotional narrative... except using a male {usually not the male fanboy's prefered character} as the semi-direct avatar in the relationship in order to do so.)

Most women aren't seeing Iron Man or Thor or Captain America or Batman their avatar. They are going to most probably interact with those characters from an outside viewing (as that is in fact the way that women experience men -- from the outside. We are attracted or repulsed or unmoved or... Women relate to men. It's an emotional and or physical interaction. And, in the absense of having an actual active avatar for female empowerment and female experience (not just in a superficial -- hey we threw in one token chick, way) then the most intimate interaction with the characters is from the outside...which tends to be in a relationship-sense.

'They' create these superhero narratives primarily for fanboys. They don't give women a lot of ways to interact with those narratives, and then they get all pissy about the way that women DO interact, because, damn it, we're supposed to worship the fanboy avatar superhero, not be concerned with relationships or seeking our own avenues to access the text.

It's all very narrow. They are wanting to say that there is ONE WAY to read the text, and that way is the inately male fanboy way of interacting with superheros.

... it's a theory anyway.

Edited at 2014-03-06 04:58 pm (UTC)
shapinglight
Mar. 6th, 2014 05:08 pm (UTC)
Very interesting. I hope to come back and answer this properly before disappearing off LJ completely (which is probably going to happen in the next few days).

In short, though, I agree with what you say when it pertains to the Marvel stuff/Loki. It doesn't really fit so well when it comes to BtVS, due to the number of female characters female viewers can relate to.

Doesn't mean your theory doesn't apply to the Buffyverse at all, though. AtS, for instance, is far more of a traditional narrative.

I will try to answer more fully later this evening (assuming I can still think at all).

Edited at 2014-03-06 05:09 pm (UTC)
shipperx
Mar. 6th, 2014 05:43 pm (UTC)
I wasn't really thinking of it in terms of Spike, though I think it applies to the fanboy/writer fanboy reaction to female fans liking "redeeming bad boy" plots in terms of annoucing "You're watching it wrong!!!" Have you EVER seen a fanboy castigated for lusting after a femme fetale?

At any rate, the theory sort of came to me after reading a series of female-written romance novels centered on what boils down to a vigilante superhero who is basically Batman (Seriously, if it weren't set in 18th century London there would've been copyright infringement). I just began noticing that the way the stories were working was through female interaction with the hero(es) (Which was actually complex) and in a weird way tended toward the women saving the heroes, making the women more active in that verse than they tend to be in Hollywood Superhero narratives (the rare female centric ones like Buffy, Katniss aside... and Katniss, herseld, was a female writer generated product of a female dominated genre -- Young Adult Novel -- rather than the more fanboy dominated 'superheroes' genre). At any rate when reading those, it began striking me how differently the female view was working in those narratives than in the way it generally works in more fanboy oriented universes (And for all of Joss's 'feminist' cred, he has a lot of Fanboy POV in him). It began to interest me in how females relate to male superheroes may differ from the ways that fanboys do.

Edited at 2014-03-06 05:44 pm (UTC)
elisi
Mar. 6th, 2014 09:20 pm (UTC)
I wasn't really thinking of it in terms of Spike, though I think it applies to the fanboy/writer fanboy reaction to female fans liking "redeeming bad boy" plots in terms of annoucing "You're watching it wrong!!!" Have you EVER seen a fanboy castigated for lusting after a femme fetale?
All of this re. the Doctor Who fandom. The fanboys ruled long and happily, convinced that the show was all about Time Travel and ~continuity (= what constitutes canon) and making lists (and rating Companions in terms of attractiveness)... And then the show was rebooted and all of a sudden there was a) deliberate UST and Doctor/companion ~relationships on screen and b) flocks of fangirls who cared more about said relationships and character dynamics than whether the latest episode contradicted something established in 1973. (I am generalising wildly, plz no one jump on me.)
shapinglight
Mar. 6th, 2014 09:36 pm (UTC)
though I think it applies to the fanboy/writer fanboy reaction to female fans liking "redeeming bad boy" plots in terms of annoucing "You're watching it wrong!!!" Have you EVER seen a fanboy castigated for lusting after a femme fetale?

Not to my knowledge, no.

Have to say, until someone gathers empirical evidence that liking the 'redeem the bad boy' trope makes women more susceptible to being mistreated by RL bad boys I just flat out don't believe it. I think most women enjoy the trope while being fully aware that it's only a fantasy and being preached at is really irritating. On the other hand, I suppose creators of such characters probably feel that they have to make a point of spelling out the dangers just in case.

(And for all of Joss's 'feminist' cred, he has a lot of Fanboy POV in him).

Definitely.
shadowscast
Mar. 8th, 2014 12:01 am (UTC)
Have to say, until someone gathers empirical evidence that liking the 'redeem the bad boy' trope makes women more susceptible to being mistreated by RL bad boys I just flat out don't believe it.

Indeed! I love the 'redeem the bad boy' trope, truly madly and deeply. But no way would I voluntarily go within three city blocks of Loki or (pre-soul) Spike.

The character doesn't have to be a bad boy, either, for the trope to work for me—that character type appears more often as a guy, but when it shows up embodied as a woman I crush on her too. (*cough* Faith, Starbuck.)
shapinglight
Mar. 17th, 2014 07:53 pm (UTC)
Indeed! I love the 'redeem the bad boy' trope, truly madly and deeply. But no way would I voluntarily go within three city blocks of Loki or (pre-soul) Spike.

Same here. I'd run a mile from either of them.
dwyld
Mar. 6th, 2014 05:40 pm (UTC)
With reference to 3) above, while Spike (both souled and unsouled) certainly enjoys a bit of mayhem, he's not actually as much of a rebel as he thinks he is, and a lot of his supposed 'bad boy' act is bluster to hide the quivering, would-be romantic poet within. Loki, meanwhile, really loves chaos (or so he says. Actually, he most of all seems to want to be king of Asgard, which is probably not something you can successfully do when things are too chaotic. Hmm, maybe this should be under 'similarities'?)

So there is a difference. If Loki wants to be king then he has a real ambition to be top dog, which Spike never really had (except possibly for a few minutes in season 2). That actually makes Spike more chaotic - which would doubtless piss Loki off ;)
shapinglight
Mar. 6th, 2014 09:39 pm (UTC)
That actually makes Spike more chaotic - which would doubtless piss Loki off ;)

It would possibly piss mythological Loki off, true. Marvel Loki? I dunno.

It definitely blows holes in my theory about Ethan Rayne being the BtVS character Loki most resembles, though.

Ethan is closer to mythological Loki.
kikimay
Mar. 6th, 2014 07:17 pm (UTC)
I wrote a post about this matter (though I should probably correct it grammatically)

I agree on all the points basically. I like to add that while Spike reacts and learns stuff through his heart and physicality - he's all about "following the blood" - Loki is much more detached and intellectual. (He's also a kind of genius) He wants the chaos but he's very controlled and rarely he lets out his emotions (So when he does it there mass murder involved. Oh hello Willow! XD) He's much more the detached psychopath even if Tom Hiddleston gives him a shade of vulnerabily and hunger for love that makes him very interesting.


Redeemable, that is. The comics version of the character was created as a nemesis for Thor. He may not always be Thor's chief antagonist in the movies, but he'll never (IMO) stray too far from that role.


I also think so. Pity because Gillen did an amazing job in portraying young and technically speaking innocent Loki. I hate this thing about Marvel comics: you follow an arc and when it ends ... back to basis. It's annoying. I like to see progression in a story.


This is not a nice guy. Silly little girlies beware.


It's a little bit patronizing, I agree, but it makes sense in a fandom that justify Loki for everything. At least, there are some Loki fans who are prone to forget an attempt genocide because, in their eyes, Loki is always the innocent and victimized lamb.
I think that is useful to point out that he's not quite the helpless victim.

(I don't forget when Thor was cool with killing frostgiants or the all the Odin's patriarchal bullshit. I love Loki, but he's not a cute little baby.)
shapinglight
Mar. 6th, 2014 09:44 pm (UTC)
He's much more the detached psychopath even if Tom Hiddleston gives him a shade of vulnerabily and hunger for love that makes him very interesting.

This is true. Spike isn't actually a psychopath at all. A sociopath, maybe, but not a psychopath.

Actually, I'm not sure Loki hungers for love exactly - more for recognition. When he said he just wanted to be seen as Thor's equal, he probably meant it.

Maybe he's more like a psychotic version of Wesley? In fact, I think lonelybrit said that very thing in my previous Loki post.
kikimay
Mar. 6th, 2014 11:54 pm (UTC)
Yes, you used a so much better word! Loki really wants recognition, especially from Thor and Odin.

Yes, he could be the psycho version of Wesley. I thought about Willow because the fundamental traits are the same: really smart people, intellectual, power hungry. I guess that Willow is much more power-hungry than Wesley? Dark!Willow is pretty much like caged!Loki XD But Wesley also had the shitty father as Loki.
shapinglight
Mar. 7th, 2014 08:49 am (UTC)
Heh! All it goes to show is that there are no exact comparisons, despite what Joss said (with the proviso that he only meant that both characters attract the fangirls).

Loki is like Ethan, like Spike, like Wesley, like Dark Willow. Or not. ;)
kikimay
Mar. 7th, 2014 12:19 pm (UTC)
He would say that "He's Loki and he's alone".

Melodrama queen. XD <3
shapinglight
Mar. 17th, 2014 07:54 pm (UTC)
;)
eowyn_315
Mar. 9th, 2014 01:19 am (UTC)
Joss at least (and probably not just him) believes that less is more in the case of both characters, both of whom take up far more space in the fannish imagination than their role in the show/movie would warrant

I would add that in both cases, the reason the character takes up so much more space in the fannish imagination is because of the charisma the actor brings to the role. Spike, at least, was never meant to be more than a one-dimensional villain, but JM's acting elevated him, and his chemistry with the rest of the cast and popularity with the fans kept him around much longer than planned.

Loki... it's harder to say, because he had so much development in the comics before Joss ever got to him, but I wonder if he'd have played as large a role post-Thor if it weren't for Hiddleston's popularity. Superhero films rarely keep the same villain around for multiple sequels.

(I'd argue that the only reason Loki pulls it off twice is because Thor is the story of him becoming a villain, in parallel to Thor becoming a hero. Which is another difference between Loki and Spike. He's not introduced as a bad guy, the way Spike is - he's mischievous, certainly, and has a fairly large chip on his shoulder as the overlooked younger brother, but he's not really EVIL until he learns that he is (according to Asgardians) a monster, and decides to embrace his Jotunness.)

Loki, meanwhile, really loves chaos (or so he says. Actually, he most of all seems to want to be king of Asgard, which is probably not something you can successfully do when things are too chaotic. Hmm, maybe this should be under 'similarities'?)

This is, again, hard to parse out comics history from MCU Loki, but I wouldn't say that love of chaos is MCU Loki's primary driving force, nor does he really claim that it is? He's pretty transparent about his ultimate goal of wanting power.

I would say it's actually similar to Spike, in that he lashes out as a way to cope with his pain and anger at being deemed inferior and less worthy. He knows he'd make a better king than Odin or Thor, and he is going to rule something, goddammit, just to show them he can. Everything he does has a purpose - it's all in service of that goal - which is pretty much the opposite of causing chaos for chaos' sake.
shapinglight
Mar. 17th, 2014 08:01 pm (UTC)
Hi. First of all, sorry for not answering your comment before. Today is the first time I've managed to get online for about ten days.

Spike, at least, was never meant to be more than a one-dimensional villain, but JM's acting elevated him, and his chemistry with the rest of the cast and popularity with the fans kept him around much longer than planned.

Oh, definitely. And either character played by a different actor would not have resonated with the fans in the same way.

I don't think Loki would have become so important in the Marvel movie verse if not for Hiddleston. I think that, especially after his appearance in character at SDCC Marvel have realised what they have on their hands. I do still think they'll struggle to find something significant for him to do in future, though.

He knows he'd make a better king than Odin or Thor, and he is going to rule something, goddammit, just to show them he can. Everything he does has a purpose - it's all in service of that goal - which is pretty much the opposite of causing chaos for chaos' sake.

Yes, true. I was probably thrown by Hiddleston's own comments about Loki just enjoying being bad for its own sake.
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