Loki In Animation - A Retrospective

Part One - Part Two - Part Three - Part Four

Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends started airing on NBC in fall of 1981. This show saw Spider-Man teaming up with Iceman and Firestar (a character created specially for the animated series), as a trio known as the "Spider-Friends". The show featured guest appearances and cameos from a lot of other Marvel Comics characters. Both Thor and Loki are featured in the episode titled "The Vengeance of Loki", though strangely the episode mostly focuses on Iceman (who is revealed to be a secret Government agent). Loki (voiced by John Stephenson) plans on freeing a viking ship from inside a glacier to obtain a gem that is aboard, one of the fabled Twins of the Gods - he already had the other Twin, and with both of them his powers would be even greater. Once he acquires the second gem from the sunken ship, Loki uses them to banish Thor and Iceman to Asgard; Thor ends up trapped in the Desert of Despair (where apparently Loki himself was once imprisoned), and Iceman is sent to the Sea of Flames where he faces Surtur the Fire Demon. The next step of Loki's plan is to change his appearance and look like Thor, as he traps Spidey and Firestar each inside one of the gems, and tricks the viking aboard the sunken ship (who was still alive; he was only in suspended animation) to attack and destroy the "evil cities of mankind", starting with New York. Thus Loki would have his revenge and also ruin Thor's reputation as the humans would see the God of Thunder leading the attack.

Iceman is saved from Surtur by Zerona the Ice Princess who then takes him to her kingdom, where Iceman now has to fight Ymir the Ice Giant. It does seem a little weird that Iceman was able to defeat rather easily these two powerful inhabitants of Asgard but the fights were entertaining enough. Meanwhile Thor manages to escape from his prison and together with Iceman travel back to Earth to stop Loki. Another fun moment in this episode is the short fight between two Thors (one of them being Loki in disguise); the real Thor manages to take the Twins of the Gods from Loki and free Spidey and Firestar, before using the gems to send Loki back to the Desert of Despair and then destroying the gems. Overall, the episode was fun and a nice adventure featuring Thor and Loki.

In 2009 Marvel released Hulk Vs., a direct-to-DVD animated movie composed of two different segments: Hulk Vs. Wolverine and Hulk Vs. Thor. Loki appears in the latter segment, voiced by Graham McTavish. In this story Loki has kidnapped Bruce Banner and brought him to Asgard, knowing his alter-ego the Hulk is probably the only creature capable of destroying Thor. Together with Amora, Loki casts a spell on the Hulk, first separating Banner from the monster, and then grants Loki control over the Hulk's body. The Hulk is then sent to fight the Asgardian warriors during the Odinsleep (which in this movie is mentioned to last 7 days - and the story takes place during the final day) and kill Thor. None of the Asgardians can even injure the monster, and even the Thunder God himself finds the Hulk to be more than a match for him. Thor tries to reason with Banner, thinking he's still inside the monster's body but soon learns that Loki is the one controlling the Hulk and speaks through him. Loki mentions how long he has waited for the day he would finally be able to match the strength of his half-brother as the Hulk keeps beating Thor and ultimately tries lifting his enchanted hammer, which at the last minute retruns to the Thunder God's hand. Thor manages to break the spell cast on the Hulk by hitting the monster with a lightning bolt from his hammer - and in turn, Loki feels the pain as well. However, without Banner's personality or Loki's control, the Hulk is now an unstoppable being of pure rage, which continues to beat Thor, nearly killing him in the process.

Loki is amused by what is happening and mentions that things have worked out better than he hoped; Amora on the other hand leaves him - she never wanted Thor to be killed; she only joined Loki because Thor broke her heart when he chose Sif over her. Banner tries to explain to Loki what a mistake all of this was, but Loki ruthlessly kills him as well since he is of no further use to him. The Hulk continues to fight every Asgardian that he meets, traveling towards Odin's chamber, while Thor recovers from his injuries with help from Amora, who then takes him to Loki's hideout. There, Thor confronts Loki but Amora interrupts them realizing Loki has killed Banner. Since Banner died in Asgard, it means Hela Goddess of the Dead has claimed his soul - and without his soul there's no way to send the Hulk back to Earth. Thor orders Loki to send any evil forces he still commands to keep the Hulk occupied while they travel to Hell to recover Banner's soul. There Hela refuses to give up Banner so easily but Loki manages to trick her into brining the Hulk to Hell also; she only has half a soul with Banner, and needs to merge his with the Hulk's to have a complete being. Hulk is thus brought to Hell, where Thor and Loki join forces to fight him.

Bruce Banner is the one who ultimately saves them, by giving up on the "rewards of the after-life" and merging with the Hulk again. He is afterwards teleported back to Earth by Hela, who considers him far too powerful and dangerous to be kept in Hell - her kingdom has suffered much during their fight. However, considering she relinquished a soul, Hela demands one in exchange. Thor obviously won't give up his without a fight, so she takes Loki's. Hela mentions that Loki's stay there won't be permanent; he is her father afterall (and I think this is the only cartoon where Hela appears and her connection with Loki is mentioned). Overall, this was a fun movie and Loki had a good role.

A new direct-to-DVD animated movie featuring both Thor and Loki, titled Thor: Tales of Asgard was released in 2011 (though from what I understand the movie was finished earlier, but it wasn't released until shortly after the premiere of the live-action Thor movie. Perhaps a little off-topic, but I hope we'll see something similar next year, to tie-in with the release of Thor: The Dark World). In this movie, most of the characters are presented as teens; Thor hasn't yet received his war hammer (and doesn't obtain it by the end of the movie), and Loki (voiced by Rick Gomez) is his loyal younger brother who is just a novice in the practice of sorcery (a young Amora is seen in a short scene teaching Loki a spell - implying that at this point Amora is more skilled than Loki when it comes to magic). The movie is pretty good however - the story follows the two young brothers on their quest to find the lost Sword of Surtur, aided by the Warriors Three and a young Sif as they encounter other classic characters from the comics along the way. It is kind of weird seeing Thor and Loki being so friendly since we know how their relationship will become later in their lifes, but in this story it works and is a nice change of pace, a refreshing take on Loki for most of the movie.

The young heroes travel without Odin's consent or knowledge to Jotunheim, land of the Frost Giants where the Sword of Surtur was rumored to be hidden. The quest for the sword was considered a rite of passage into adulthood in Asgard, yet the sword was never found. Along the way there are some slight hints as to Loki's origin from the comics and his Frost Giant heritage - for example him eing able to whitstand the cold of Jotunheim when the others are freezing (his explanation is that he's simply tougher than Thor - a small joke, but at the same time I doubt Loki knew of his legacy at this point). By tresspassing in Jotunheim the heroes have unknowingly broken the peace between Odin and Thyrm King of the Frost Giants. After Thor finds the legendary sword he accidentally murders two Frost Giants sentries while trying to escape. This is more than enough for the Giants to declare war on Asgard, as their troops advance towards Odin's palace.

Odin's counselor Algrim (sole survivor of the Dark Elves from Svartalfheim - the entire race was destroyed by the Frost Giants in the past), also a close friend of Thor and Loki, learns that the All-Father has made a deal with Thyrm to return the Sword of Surtur by the end of the day to avoid any conflict. Algrim offers to travel and find Odin's sons and recover the sword; once he finds them and gets his hands on the weapon he betrays them, and returns to Asgard where he attacks Odin. The All-Father is badly injured during the fight, and only Thor seems to have the skills necessary to defeat Algrim. Thor does show mercy however, mentioning that while he can't forgive him for what he has done, he also cannot forget all the times he considered him his friend and family. Loki however isn't as merciful and gives in to his anger, using the legendary sword to kill Algrim. This was probably the most shocking moment of the entire movie; Loki up to this point wasn't shown to be this evil, and his vengeance here pretty much came out of nowhere. It's a very defining moment for him which foreshadows his descent into darkness - though ironically, it seems to have started because he wanted to protect his father. The final scenes of the movie, showing Loki alone in his temple practicing his magic are very effective and seem to enforce the fact that Loki is one step closer to becoming Thor's archenemy in the future. Overall, the movie was better than I thought it would be - it's not my favorite Marvel animated movie and while I would have liked a story featuring the normal-aged Thor and Loki, this was a fun little adventure.