When I was a kid, I always wrote “favorite character” essays about villains. I also played them in theater club productions. I didn’t think too deeply into it, I just liked them because they were interesting. Heroes seemed boring to me.
Now, I’m not sure whether I even believe in heroes and villains. I think the lines are very blurred and just about everything is a matter of perception. But I suppose you can be on the wrong or right side in each particular situation. Of course, which side is actually right and which is wrong is also often a matter of perception, but I guess in the epic tales of fiction, where the situation in question often involves destruction of planets and elimination of entire races, the majority generally doesn’t have a problem deciding which side is good. And that’s how we get heroes and villains. And I still tend to prefer the latter.
A character that just does good is dull. ‘Look at me, I’m so great, and so righteous, and so wonderful, and so shallow and a total bore.’ Heroes become interesting when you research their flaws, their weaknesses, mistakes and misdoings. That’s what gives them depth. When there’s conflict, you start rooting for the hero to do the right thing. Instead of just knowing they will. It’s the scale that could tip over into villainy that makes you care about the hero. It’s knowing their pain and their baggage.
On the other side of this equation, there are villains, that are also boring if all they ever do is bad, bad, bad. In real life, most bad people became bad for a reason. Something happened to them that made them monsters. And that’s something that, whether you like it or not, whether you’re willing to admit it or not, can happen to anyone. Villains are just heroes whose scale tipped over on the wrong side.
And that’s what makes one root for a villain. Knowing why they are the way they are. And hoping that they could become or go back to being good. That’s why sometimes villains evoke stronger emotions than heroes. For heroes, the conflict is in not becoming bad. But they already are good, they’re already there, they just need to not break. Whereas, for a villain, to become good would take so much more effort and would be a huge accomplishment. And perhaps, it touches upon a desire in a lot of us to become better. It’s nice to believe that you really can do that. And to watch a villain turn into a hero gives immense hope to anyone striving to change for the better. It makes you believe that it really can be done.
Which is one of the reasons we love Kid Loki so much. He did that. He chose to become a better person. As best he could. And that’s why we’re rooting for MCU Loki to get his redemption one day. We hope that whatever damage has been done to his soul, when the moment comes, his scale tips towards good.
And that’s why I’m terrified of the idea that Kid Loki might go back to being bad. Because that would be a spit in the face of the idea that one can change for the better. That a villain can become a hero. And all those naysayers that claim that Loki will always be a villain will be proven right. In the past, Loki has already attempted doing the right thing, but the circumstances prevented him from doing so. And that’s unnerving and terrifying. If after finally succeeding for once at sticking on the right side he’s then kicked back into the wrong, a string in my heart that is specifically dedicated to this occasion will snap.
I wouldn’t even mind if he died instead. I’d rather he died a hero than lived a villain. Because where does a character go from making an effort to become good and then going right back to being a monster? And how do you keep believing that people can change for the better when even fictional characters don’t get that privilege?
Right now I’m about 99.7% sure that Loki will be a bona fide hero in Marvel NOW. Probably because I refuse to believe that we would receive such a painful blow from the creator of a heartwarming story that is JIM641. And I’m about as certain that MCU Loki will hop to the good side in Thor: TDW, because after subtly setting up all those paths to redemption for him, it would be silly to not let him take one, right? Right?
Denial is a wonderful thing. Until it ends.