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Wed, Feb

Loki's Triumph: Tom Hiddleston's Journey from Thor's Rejection to Marvel's Iconic Anti-Hero

LOS ANGELES

ALPERN AT LARGE - Tom Hiddleston, the amazingly well-cast actor who portrayed the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Loki, Norse God of Mischief, tried out originally for the role of his brother Thor, God of Thunder is quite a tidbit of trivia. Clearly Hiddleston, the MCU, and its fanbase were the winners when casting saw Hiddleston’s potential and diverted him to the character of Loki.

In many ways, Hiddleston, passed over in favor of Chris Hemsworth—an actor truly “born to play Thor” in the same way that Robert Downey, Jr. was “born to play Iron Man”—was not only “born to play Loki” but probably got the better and more fun role to play than that of Thor.

After all, who doesn’t love a great and conflicted anti-hero?

And for anyone who saw the two-season MCU television series Loki, it was evident that great casting, great writing, and a dogged adherence to perspective created a masterpiece. 

After the movie Avengers: Endgame, things needed to go up a notch, and the need to “top this” as sequels and new stories go, and to keep humor and sentiment rightfully balanced while engaging the audience. 

Think Spiderman: No Way Home, and you realize that there was and is a future for the MCU after Avengers: Endgame.

Ditto for the DC movies versus Marvel’s movies, because the former pretty much all failed because of lousy writing (and perhaps casting) that no special effects could overcome.

In contrast, Loki entirely succeeded where The Marvels failed (actually, the latter bombed). 

Of course, one was a TV series and the other a movie, but both the movies and TV series involving Loki’s character were always hits, while those associated with Captain Marvel, Nick Fury and crew after Endgame always failed in comparison.

And NO, it was not a male/female thing, or an ethnic thing.

The same fanboys and fangirls who were underwhelmed, if not bored, with Secret InvasionCaptain Marvel, and The Marvels probably (almost certainly) loved Black Panther and Black Widow, and before that the Alien and Terminator movie franchises of Ridley Scott and James Cameron.

Strong women and great casting/writing YES, wokeness and in-your-face girl bosses and moral preaching NO.

And let’s not forget that the complete difference between the reception of Black Panther vs. The Falcon and Winter Soldier. One showed black empowerment, with both black and non-black good guys and bad guys, while the other started well but became too darned preachy.

Note to Disney: they’re movies, dang it! Keep it Low-Key, as did Loki, which let its casting and story-telling do the job for any entertainment (or maybe messages to give us pause).

Another Note to Disney: Tell your leading actors and role players to keep their mouths shut and just act with a smile on their face!

Actresses Brie Larson (like Rachel Zegler with the now-aborted movie Snow White and the Seven Diversity Representatives before her) probably doomed their movies from their brash “girl boss” statements, to say nothing of their careers.

Meanwhile, Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson (what a brilliant addition to the Loki series!) kept it mellow, kept it humorous, and kept it fun (and let the story send any necessary messages in a subtle way). 

For what it’s worth, Loki was a story that had a diverse and dynamic group of actors, and was riveting from beginning to end. In many ways, Loki mirrored the first Thor movie by demonstrating the transformation of a self-absorbed god into what a superhero is supposed to do and change in what makes him/her super.

Let’s just say that the Odin the All-Father--played by Anthony Hopkins, an actor with the gravitas who was “born to play Odin”—would have been proud of both his boys.

Whether it’s a male or female lead character, it’s the storywriting and casting, as well as sticking to character development and what makes a good comic-to-movie adaptation tick (while NEVER forgetting who your fan base is and wants). 

If you missed the TV series Loki, see it. If you missed the TV series Secret Invasion and the movie The Marvels; well, you can see it, too, but keep your expectations way, way, way lower.

And to Disney, just do what Walt would have wanted: entertain us and forget about the real world for a few hours.

(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father. He was active for 20 years on the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) as a Board Member focused on Planning and Transportation, and helped lead the grassroots efforts of the Expo Line as well as connecting LAX to MetroRail. His latest project is his fictional online book entitled The Unforgotten Tales of Middle-Earth, and can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)