My Fury Over “Thor: The Dark World” Ending

It’s 115 minutes or so into Thor: The Dark World. The movie is wrapping up with one final scene between Thor and Odin. I watch from my seat, hoping against hope that this movie maintains its integrity and that that guard’s smirk in that previous scene didn’t imply what I think it implied. Thor abdicates his right to Asgard’s throne and thanks his father for his understanding. “No,” Odin says as Thor leaves. The music changes and my stomach plummets. Sure enough, Odin transforms into Loki, alive and well. “Thank you,” he says. Black out. Role credits. Goddammit it, Marvel.

lokidead

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry”

I was never going to be completely pleased with Thor: The Dark World if Loki made it out alive. Despite my staunch advocacy for his death, though, I figured that the character was too much of a fan-favorite to dispose of and I accepted that this movie would find a way to keep this cash-cow-of-a-character breathing. However, I was not expecting the movie to compromise its own integrity in order to do so. Simply put, it’s not that Loki survives the movie that’s the problem, it’s that he does so at the expense of good writing, and character development.

Had it not been for that final twist, I would have argued that Thor: The Dark World completed one of the greatest redemptive character arcs in film, right alongside that of Darth Vader. Thor established Loki’s motivation and backstory, The Avengers saw him bask in his capacity for evil and Thor: The Dark World brought him to rock bottom and culminated in an act of self-sacrifice.  Then they slapped on a final twist that revealed Loki to be alive (… how?), unrepentant and once again intent on ruling Asgard. The final product is a film that examines the depths of a man’s bitterness and loneliness yet discards its own findings for the sake of ensuring yet another sequel.

Some may argue that Loki’s not supposed to be redeemable; that he is a trickster and that any fangirl who falls for something as quaint as a death rattled apology is on parr with Harley Quinn losing her heart to the Joker. This is a fair argument but it fails to acknowledge the requirements and limitations of a film franchise. Simply put, there’s not enough time to have your bad guy switch sides all the time. Such duplicity works in Norse mythology, comic books and even television because the stories go on for so long. Film franchises (as lucrative as some of them are) just don’t have that luxury. Celluloid Loki has switched sides enough times that we know he’s a trickster. Why on earth should that deprive him of a poignant conclusion?

Speaking of poignancy, the greatest problem with the final twist is that it undermines every emotional, humanizing moment Loki has in the movie. The reveal of Loki’s trashed cell after Frigga’s death has to be one of the most moving shots in any Marvel film to date. lokirockbottomAnd the film’s best scenes are easily the ones between the two brothers. Their bickering on the spaceship, their shared commiseration over their mother, Loki’s “dying” apology. The notion that these moments truly make no impact on Loki as the film concludes with yet another deception is … just … bad writing. It’s not a matter of fidelity to the comics, nor Norse mythology, nor placating fans. This is a poorly contrived regression for an otherwise well-written character. Once again, I understand that he’s supposed to be mischievous but Thor: The Dark World takes far too much time exploring Loki’s pathos to then shrug it off with, “Well, he’s a trickster”

I will give the movie credit, though, for truly making the set up that Thor can’t trust Loki pay off. After Sif, Volstagg, Fandral, Heimdall and Thor himself build up Loki’s treachery, the notion that Loki’s only betrayal of his brother is, in fact, a charade is a tad anticlimactic. Still, I’m loathe to commend this feature-length deception as it clashes with the words of Frigga, whose maternal insight takes on a near spiritual authority after her death. She had faith in Loki and therefore so do we. The realization that, in the end, it made no difference is devastating.

Where can Loki go from here, I wonder? He can never have another sacrificial death. He and Thor can never try to reconcile their broken friendship again. He’s already been the ultimate bad guy and the ultimate good guy (he did save Thor’s life after all). I don’t care that his character is duplicitous; there is nothing left for him to do. Not that I can see, anyway. Then again, I’m not a professional screen writer.

If brilliant writers can, however, find a way to resuscitate this character’s usefulness then I will rejoice that this contrived twist extended Loki’s life and will gladly retract what I have written here.

Please, screenwriters, please make me retract this post.

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46 responses to “My Fury Over “Thor: The Dark World” Ending

  1. I agree. It was a cop-out. And it gave the movie some unecessary plotholes. How did he survive? Where did Odin go? Etc. Just unecessary.

  2. I don’t think Loki did what he did because he still despises his brother and father as much as it was because he knew if he stayed with Thor he’d end up back in a jail cell. That was what Thor promised him, that he’d be free to have his vengeance and then he’d be back in the cell for eternity. I don’t think the events had no effect on him, but I think they didn’t have enough effect on him for him to accept being put back in a cage for the rest of his long, long life.

    As for how he survived, we know he can use tricks (like Thor’s hand being chopped off) so he obviously used one on himself to make Thor believe he was dying. We saw the green surrounding the guard who went to find them, indicating that this was Loki and he had shifted into that appearance.

  3. There are no plot holes, we know Loki survived even before the last scene. When the Asgardian soldier arrives to the dark world we see the effect that always appear when Loki transforms. Then when this soldier informs Odin about Loki’s death the camera focus to much in him. Why? Cause we already know is Loki. He perhaps arrest Odin or something worst. The only question I have is how the hell did Loki survives??

  4. i thought in the scene Loki may still have been good you know? because here thor is confessing how Loki died with honour and was smart enough to rule etc.. i was left hoping that it implied loki was thanking his brother for that and potentially giving him the right to rule, but not in an evil way.. maybe that’s just the optimist in me though!

  5. I agree that the final scene with Loki posing as Odin was a bit of a cop-out (posing being the operative word – you could tell it wasn’t Odin almost straight away from the relaxed posture on the throne). After his redemptive actions earlier, and the emotional prison scene you mentioned, it did leave a bit of a sour taste. But as you said, you can’t kill off a favourite character – the Thor movies would be very bland without him. Difficult to see though how they could have found another solution that would have both let him have a panto villain-esque last laugh without tarnishing his selfless actions earlier in the plot.

  6. You obviously know nothing about Marvel. Loki is always switching sides and escaping death. The ending is true to its Marvel roots. Do some research on the character before bashing the ending.

    • Thank you! That’s exactly it. Loki has never been a super bad guy or a super good guy. He’ll do something bad, get arrested, do something good, possibly “die” and then he comes back. It’s in his nature. Correction, marvels nature.

    • Agreed, this ending stays true to the comic book character (which for the sake of longevity hardly ever truly kills off a character). Maybe for a movie goer it is a bad turn, but for a comicbook reader, a Loki self sacrifice isn’t in the cards, you’re waiting for the twist, he’s the trickster,

  7. I disagree that the failure to kill Loki undermines his earlier character development; he doesn’t have to die for his grief over his mother’s death to be real.

    He didn’t actively harm Thor; he saw an opportunity to escape being imprisoned further and took it. To have him do otherwise – to have him opt for a ‘noble death’ where survival is possible – is completely out of character for Loki.

  8. I am surprised when people “actually” thought Loki would die. A minuscule exposure to Loki from Marvel Comics, or as the Trickster god would have made you realise that “Loki never dies”.
    Yeah, Agent Coulson emptied a prototype, Asgardian tech gun into him, and Loki impaled him from behind.
    Loki posing as Odin, the coup was a surprise.
    And people who wanted Loki to be “good”. Its Loki! Get your head out of your Asgard!

  9. I think we can, with the end, assume sad trashed cell Loki was not real either. I’m kinda thinking GOTG will possibly show that Loki is working for Thanos still… hence giving the Collector the Aether. After all, why would Odin tell Sif and Volstagg to take one major weapon to this guy when they were unwittingly following Loki’s command?
    Loki is a bad guy and to me the ending and midcredits spell that out.

  10. I just got home from watching it it was an amazing film but got lost at the end when Odin turned into Loki but I have a theory . Thor said he wish he can trust Loki so maybe Loki saved thor’s life to regain his trust and somehow survived .
    I remember when Loki was laying there Thor said to him I will tell father what you have done you will be honored etc so maybe while Thor was on earth Loki returned to Asgard and Odin made him king without Thor knowing then at the end when Thor returns after the war he was saying how the throne would not suit him it would suit Loki because he would make the sacrifice and would be a good ruler or something to that extent so maybe Loki is hiding it from Thor that he is alive and will appear when the time is right I think he will become a good guy because like Thor and his friends said if you betray Thor you will die so he’s gotta be a good guy right ?

  11. I think he locked his father in the dungeon as a sort of revenge.
    Also, it appears to me at least that Loki did love his mother and grieve over her, but he wasn’t willing to give up on the throne. So he took the opportunity Thor gave him for his mother’s revenge and came up with a plan inside that plan (just like Loki) to get back the throne.
    I don’t think he shares any compassion with his father. The death scene was obviously just part of Loki’s plan, but some of the looks Loki gave Thor when Thor said he wished that he could trust Loki were agonizing, and I think they were true: he does care about his brother deep down, but he is just too jealous for his own good. Another thing that I think is, the whole villain death = redemption thing, while always nice, is pretty over done. I just think it’s not unlike Loki to have another plan in his mind, and he seems like a survivalist.
    I just have to wonder how the next movie will play out. I haven’t read the comic books, so I don’t know what the ending scene meant, but it doesn’t look like Loki will be the main villain. He honestly doesn’t really have a reason to complain. He has the throne now. I don’t know what he was like in the comic books, but I could see him protecting Asgard (mostly himself) from the new villain.

  12. I think we’re forgetting that Loki warned that huge guy to “take the stairs on the left” obviously Loki knew that his actions would cause the death of someone, as stated earlier, “he’s a trickster” he tells a truth followed by a lie EVERY TIME.

  13. Yes yes yes all well said, glad someone else felt this way – but I also hated that the twist ruined the poignancy of the final scene between Odin and Thor, which had it not been for the twist would have been a brilliant scene to show how their relationship had evolved throughout the film.

  14. You make good points. Personally, when I first saw the scene of his ‘last moments’, I was really emotionally struck and actually wanted that to be his ending: a good, clean reconciliation and redemption. It would have been a very moving sentiment that perhaps, after everything he’d done and lost, Loki may have finally found and taken that opportunity at redemption. However, at the same time, notwithstanding the trickster bit, the instant, uncultivated switch from narcissism and malice towards his brother and father to sincere regret does not reflect his character. Rather, it would mangle it. Unless some really powerful epiphany hit him, Loki would not completely change in that one instant. It undermines everything he stood for in the past two movies. So while I was a bit upset he didn’t have that redemption that seemed so perfect to a fan’s wishes, it simply wouldn’t be in character.

  15. Ok I couldn’t finish reading this because all I could think was seriously you weren’t paying attention at all they showed Loki to be alive before Loki transforms into Odin if you had been paying attention you would of known Loki to be the guard the entire time. Secondly they can’t kill off Loki he’s a main character. Finally you oblivious if you thought Loki would actually sacrifice himself.

  16. I didn’t see quite that way. I don’t think it undermines the growth of the character as much as you think. The way I see it, his relationship with Thor improved and there was closure on that relationship through forgiveness. Still, Loki hated Odin and quite possibly blames him for his mother’s death. I think it’s still the final piece of his revenge. To make his father watch him rule his kingdom. Loki, to me, is a complex character that has much development to go through. And I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more of a redemption in the upcoming films as Thanos attacks Asgard for the Infinity gems.

  17. I think Loki made some very crucial steps towards redemption during the movie, which made me happy. But do I think he’s a “good person” now? No, not really. The fact that Odin was horrible to him never changed. He still hates Odin.

  18. Here’s a more optimistic take. The movie got into the concept of someone having to have a ruthless side to be a good ruler, something that (per Thor) Loki has and Thor lacks. It’s possible that Odin was ready to step down and allowed Loki to be king in his place with both of them understanding that nobody would accept Loki if he appeared as himself.

  19. I just came back from watching it. When I saw Loki die I didn’t even want continue watching the movie. When I saw him at the end I said to my hubby, “He’s such a bitch!”, meaning it, of course in a good way. I was relieved to see him alive sitting on the throne. So, wahtever Marvel comes up with, I’ll be still happy to see it. He’ll always be a beloved character even more than Thor. I loved the movie and will see the sequel in a whim.

  20. I think people are underestimating just how complicated a character to is. The main I’ve learned is that it’s not about right an wrong. He isn’t bitter at Odin for not telling him the truth about his birth or that Odin’s fear of Loki being like his biological father caused him to be harsh an indifferent towards him. Which in turn made Loki hate Odin. It’s not even about Asgard. It’s about Loki an Thor. Understand Loki doesn’t hate Thor. In fact he idolizes Thor and thinks highly of him. He hates that he can’t truly hate his brother as he does Odin because he knows his brother truly loves him. This paired with his deceptive personality ,sly tongue, and immense intellect cause Loki to simply not care about anything or anyone but his brother. I mean if your gonna fake your death why the heartfelt apology to the person who told you that he’d kill you himself if you betrayed him again. He knew Thor was serious and needed his brother to forgive him and love him again just so his next betrayal could be bigger?

  21. I see your argument though I liked the fact that Lokin comes out as not pure evil but rather a more realistic character, one who is capable of both good and evil. He could have easily betrayed his brother to the dark elves and put an end to the world as we know it. However, he saves his brother and helps to defeat the grave threat to the nine realms.

    Why? For one, I think he really did share his brother’s grief over his mother’s death and this was a sort of homage to his mother, a way to per his respects by putting his resentment aside long enough to save Asgard. Also, while he’s evil, he’s the type of evil that wants power but not a total annihilation of the universe as he knows it. I always like it when a protagonist and antagonist came team up against a common enemy they both find repulsive.

  22. Possibly Loki is still working under Thanos, fearful that he would make good on his threat, as mentioned by The Other in “The Avengers”, to torture Loki beyond the greatest pain he had ever known, or maybe this was an act of Loki, alone, because he still wants to see Asgard fall. Loki might, under the guise of Odin instructed Sif and Volgstagg to courier the gem in to The Collector…? Who knows. We’ll have to wait until the next movie to find out. I’m certain there’s more to this story that’s not being told and why this film ended with such a big cliffhanger.

  23. You wanted Loki to die? My, my, my…aren’t you a poor excuse for a human being. He’s too loved to go anywhere. Get over it, you dumb bitch.

  24. I’m sorry, I adore that little coldblooded pseudopsycho sh*t too much and my only reaction was “YEARGH! Oh, how intelligent he is!”
    Anyway, I just can’t picture him killing Odin.
    Don’t forget then that Loki was allied with the Collector too – and that will be the next movie – and this means it has been Loki to order for the Ather to be given to the Collector .

  25. You’re absolutely right that it’s bad writing. I don’t give one iota of one f*ck about mythological Loki or comics Loki. This is a movie, and it is bad writing to spend an entire film creating an emotional arc only to lazily reveal that everything you’ve just scene and felt was false. If the story they were telling was one of deceit and an unrepentant thirst for rule, they ought to have told that story. They did not. The emotional arc of the film *is* the film. The writers undid themselves.
    Unless–and this is something I haven’t seen many people discuss–Loki really did die. He died, and someone brought him back–someone like, for example, his old ally Thanos, who would rather like to have the thing Asgad just acquired, ie the aether. I mean, in the fist film, he fell into infinity and ended up in New York City, so stranger things have happened. The advantage of such an interpretation is that you don’t have to destroy the emotional arc of the entire movie.
    Also, side note, Loki’s death was not out of character because it wasn’t an act of self sacrifice. His death was an accident; he put himself at risk, sure, but he’d put himself at risk many times before, so that’s not out of character. What was redemptive about his death was that it facilitated closure on the brother’s relationship because death can grant a man quite a bit of perspective, as it seems to have done Loki in his last moments.
    So that’s my take. Loki died. The movie’s emotional arc actually took place. He’s just not dead anymore, and now we don’t know who he’s working for, who he owes his life to, or what he’s up to.

    • Ariel, thank you so much. I just read all the comments above yours and yours is the ONLY comment that I agree 100% with. I’m currently writing a fanfic on it. I will hold to this theory until it is otherwise challenged. It is the only theory that makes perfect sense to me. Loki of the films is NOT a mastermind. He is a “plan B” planner, and in my opinion he never cared about attaining the throne when he was let out of prison, and he didn’t seek a way of staying out of prison. Because my theory is that he contemplated killing himself before Thor showed up to his cell, before Revenge was offered him. Loki’s first plan was actually to take revenge, and then to return to his cell and die anyway. Pretty dark, but after the devastation of Frigga’s death, Loki wouldn’t have cared one iota about attaining power, freedom or self-respect in the same day. He was experiencing immense grief and the “now you see me, brother” was a revelation of his spiritual state throughout the film. That was how he felt, all along, all the way through his death. And there is no way with that un-anticipated impalement that it could’ve been an illusion. We’ve established that illusion dissipate when they are touched. And Loki’s apology to Thor was 100% truthful. (Tom Hiddleston said so in an interview). In fact, the fact that the entire ending was ADDED in post-production should be a sign that the original idea for the movie was INDEED a redemption arc. :/ They just changed it b/c of Loki’s popularity!

  26. Personally I liked the ending, and not just because Loki didn’t actually die.
    As Darius said before, you are all underestimating Loki’s complexity. For him to just go all good like he did in the movie would have been completely out of character. Everything Loki does is part of some elaborate plan, so honestly I think he’d been planning his “death” when he agreed to the plan. How he survived is the only part that I’m iffy on, so hopefully that will be explained later.
    Really, I felt that the movie did a good job of leaving the depth of Loki’s actions up to the viewer. Loki (the actual character not just Hiddleston) has shown himself to be a great actor, so everything he did could have been an act, or it could have been real, most likely a combination of the two though. Loki returning to Asgard let’s the viewer decide if he actually was actually being a good person, or of the whole thing was part of another evil plot. That’s really what Loki is about: Everything he does is ultimately a trick but how much is actually genuine?

  27. Loki being alive stays true to the comics. He is a natural survivor. Redemption? He needs none. Loki is a trickster. He is not evil or good. He has the capacity for both. One of those grey characters that always toes the line and steps across now and then.

  28. I also have to make the point that Loki didn’t have to save Thor. He could have let Algrim kill Thor then he could kill Algrim, but he saved his brother, because he does actually love him. And its even a possibility thathe meant to die, but failed. Its probably that he planned to fake his death. Also in the moment before his ‘death’ Loki also saved Jane and was willing to sacrifice himself for her. Loki’s character arc could be complete with the next thor movie, either full redemption or villainous death.
    I have the last point that odin/loki was offering the throne to thor, he was willing to give it to him. I honestly think avengers was loki’s temper tantrum, and now that he has the throne, after redeeming himself in his brothers eyes, he can now have the room to be a truly good King.

  29. I also have to say that loki means to RULE, NOT DESTROY Asgard! I dont think he wants to see its fall because it is his home and I personally believe that he means to be a good King

  30. I do so agree with you on some aspects. It finally felt like we were all owe a glimpse into loki’s inner workings and actual pain and then it was ripped out from under us, in order for the franchise to make more money. However the way that I am choosing to look at it is that he was so devastated by the death of his mother that it installed a sense of repetition in himself. That the one person who had faith in him was truly gone, and for that the one person he respected, therefore he relied on what he knows; and what he can dwell in, trickery.

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