I’m going to be doing a series of entries called “How I Chose to Cosplay” about the characters I’ve cosplayed. The first one is on Marvel’s Loki and Lady Loki.
Loki is hands down one of my favourite mythological figures. He is a complicated character and has no clear sides to him. Is he on the side of Asgard or against it? Is he dangerous? Reading the stories shows a character who is a trouble maker and likes to deliberately cause others grief. But he doesn’t seem to want to actually hurt anyone. Then the stories take a turn for the villainous once they hit Ragnarok. Let’s look at one of my favourite Loki myths as an example of this: Thor’s hammer is stolen by a giant and so Loki is sent to find out why. It turns out the giant wants Frigga’s hand in marriage in return for the hammer. Frigga won’t do it so it’s up to Loki to come up with a solution. And he decides that the only way to get the hammer back is to dress Thor up in drag and have him pretend to be Frigga. I really think Loki had it in him to come up with a better solution. But the guy’s a total (lovable) dick. And then his actions led to the death of Baldur, the most beloved god in Asgard, in the later stories.
As a trickster god, Loki is a morally ambiguous character who plays both the role of hero and villain as the story demands. Trickster gods are common characters in mythology. There’s Anansi, Prometheus, Coyote and so forth. They can be very kind to humans, extremely generous and yet backstabbing and problem causing. And we love them for it. There are all kinds of “trickster god” type characters in modern media as well. The very first example of this that pops up in my mind is Bugs Bunny from Looney Tunes. But trickster characters suffer as we see in both Loki and Prometheus’ cases. Prometheus stole fire from the gods of Olympus for humans and he ended up chained to a rock while an eagle tore out his magically regrowing liver every day. Loki may have directly or indirectly killed Baldur and ended up chained to a rock while a deadly snake dripped burning venom into Loki’s eyes.
How does a story go from “Loki gave Thor Mjolnir” to “Let’s have Loki kill a beloved god and then cause Ragnarok?” I can’t tell you how the mythology evolved but I do know that it makes for a meaty character. Loki has been portrayed in western media as everything from evil villain to morally shady person to innocent party caught in a bad situation.
That is why I love Loki. He’s innocent, he’s evil, he’s everything in between. Who else fits that description?
Oh yeah. Our entire species.
For me, Loki is a generally good person who sometimes makes selfish choices. A person who was too smart and then ended up in a situation that they couldn’t control.
So it shouldn’t be hard to tell that I hated Marvel’s Loki. Let’s ignore that Loki is Odin’s blood brother (as in they swore a blood oath) and not Thor’s adopted kid brother. Let’s ignore that Sif has golden hair in the mythology or that Loki has fathered a lot of strange children. Marvel’s Thor just borrowed from its source material. It doesn’t actually make real use of it. I hated that. I liked the lore. It gave Loki nuance. Yet his first comic book appearance had no shades of gray. He was just a villain. Although I do admit that that first issue Loki appears in is hilarious. But that has to do with how old comics were written and not any of Loki’s charm.
That has changed in the comics now. I wasn’t aware of it though until Thor the movie came out. I went to see it with friends, expecting to hate it. It took about twenty minutes to get past the wrongness of it (as I knew the mythology and not the Marvel world). And then it grew on me. I adored the cinematic version of Thor. And Tom Hiddleston as Loki was just delicious. This Loki was also a morally gray character. I could see how he became the villain and I could see how he considered himself the good guy. This Loki was raised in a culture where he didn’t belong. He had just found out that he was one of the monsters everyone hated: a Jotun. And the ending was everything my abnormal psychology loving, fascinated by suicide self loved in a character. I’m a sucker for mental health consumers in pop culture. I want to know why they’re the way they are and if there’s treatments available to help them. I want to see them cry, see how they suffer and then see what could bring them joy. I want them to succeed. And I want them to fail. Because some mentally ill people do fail. And yet some heal. And others still are completely healthy expect for a few problems unique to them. But we all have our own unique problems. If you can’t tell, I have a BSc in psychology and my parents are mental health professionals. Mental health is the foundation of my entire life. It made by day when Avengers’ Loki was full on insane. How did that happen? What trauma finally broke him between the two movies? Thor’s Loki was a misguided young man and the Avengers’ Loki was in a full on psychotic break. I wanted to know if Loki would respond to therapeutic treatment. I wanted to know if he could go back to the young man we saw in Thor. I wanted to know if he would forever be trapped in the role of super villain.
I still don’t own any Marvel comics except for one Thor title (Blood Brothers). I don’t enjoy Marvel as a universe outside of the movies. And yet I really click with the Marvel cinematic universe’s portrayal of both Thor and Loki. They are gods and they are humans.
And so I dropped $300 on a replica of Loki’s costume from the second Thor film.
I’ve also cosplayed as Lady Loki. She is canon to the Marvel comics. Basically, Loki steals a host body intended for Sif and runs around in it. That is the most basic explanation I can give but if you want to know more then I recommend looking up the comics for yourself. I would love to say that the character added nuance to a fictional person I’m already very fond of but I can’t. I don’t read Marvel comics. I actually decided to cosplay Lady Loki because I had a long black wig that I wanted to take to Toronto’s Fan Expo with me. I was thinking to myself “well, I already have brown boots and a brown corset. What can I use that and the wig for? Lady Loki!” And it worked for me because it was a character that had been made into a female in canon- never mind that Loki is a shapeshifter in the original mythology so he’s probably been a woman once or twice. I do not enjoy genderbent cosplays personally. I like seeing what other people have done but I do not do it often myself.
I love cosplay and being recognised for a character. So I probably won’t cosplay the mythological version of Loki. But he’ll always be a special part of my universe.
*Bonus* Some Trickster God related media that Devinity enjoys
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris
The Sandman graphic novel series by Neil Gaiman
The Abandon Trilogy by Meg Cabot (this is actually heavily inspired by the Hades/Persephone myth but I don’t care)
Thor: Tales of Asgard (an animated Marvel Universe film)
Supernatural (the television program: the more recent seasons aren’t great but they did some really neat stuff with the concept of Loki in earlier seasons)
Thor and Loki: Blood Brothers (the only Marvel comic I will ever read- but what it does to tie the actual mythology into the comic verse is actually brilliant and stunning)
The Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan (these all have Greek/Roman gods and focus more on the demi gods but it’s a fun and easy read)
And yeah, the Thor movies and the first Avengers movie.