Is Loki evil?
Doesn’t that sound like such a simple question?
I mean, I could have answered that question quite easily back when we only had two movies to base the evidence on: Thor and the Avengers. Now that we’re at a total of five performances by the lovely Tom Hiddleston, I find myself struggling with evidence for and against this simple little question. It’s sort of made me consider that maybe the idea of good and evil isn’t as clean-cut as I once thought. I’m no stranger to grey area, but Loki has made me examine my own definition of evil now that we’ve gotten a complete scope of who he is as a character over the course of the Thor and MCU franchise. I thought it would be fun to muse over the question and see if I can draw an actual conclusion, or if I’ll remain undecided on the issue.
Naturally, spoilers for every single film in which Loki appears, including Avengers: Infinity War.
Evidence supporting evil:
But not everything.
Evidence against evil:
If we go by actions alone, the bad outweighs the good and Loki is evil. However, how do you define evil? If we go by Webster’s definition, we find that evil is: “morally reprehensible” or “arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct.” Is evil simply the absence of good? If so, then no, Loki isn’t evil. There is good in him. There’s more bad than good, but it’s still there and in the end he chose to do the right thing rather than defaulting into his old ways. Furthermore, is he evil in part of the story and not in the rest? Possibly, yes. What makes Loki so hard to pin down is the fact that up until Infinity War it’s an ongoing story, so if you pluck him out at certain points, it’s still open for debate what constitutes as evil. He certainly is evil for large chunks of his overall storyline, but when he develops, the picture gets away blurry and hard to describe. In that case, what is the measure of evil? Is it the whole journey or the ending? Can the lives he’s taken be weighed against the lives he’s saved? What tips the balance on the scales of the soul.
I hope you guys know, ‘cause I sure don’t.
All I can safely say is that Loki is complex. He’s mostly bad, but the streak of good in him has honestly saved lives, so it’s hard to throw him away completely as the villain. He’s neither villain nor anti-hero, but just this sassy asshole who straddles the fence.