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Who's who in 'Thor: The Dark World'

Published: Friday, Nov. 8 2013 8:56 a.m. MST

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Marvel
In the movies: British actor Tom Hiddleston’s performance as Thor’s mustache-twirling archenemy in both “Thor” and “The Avengers” has made him a fan favorite. As portrayed in the first movie, Loki was raised believing he was Thor’s biological brother. After discovering that he is, in fact, the son of the Frost Giant king Laufey (played by Colm Feore), he concocted a plan to take over Asgard by having Thor banished.

After that plot fell apart, he set his sights on Earth before being apprehended by its Mightiest Heroes — specifically, the big green one.

In the comics: Loki actually predates Thor as a comic book character by a full 14 years, having appeared in a 1949 Timely Comics publication — albeit in a pretty much unrecognizable form — before Timely became Marvel and the character got his own distinctive Jack Kirby makeover.

Branagh and company didn’t stray too far in adapting the character for the silver screen. The biggest difference comes in how the movie and comic versions handle Loki’s “adoption.” In the film, it’s portrayed as one of the terms of Odin’s peace treaty with Laufey. In the comics, though, Loki is discovered having been concealed from the other Frost Giants due to his abnormally small size. Odin thus takes him in out of mercy.

Otherwise, the evil plots, the jealousy, the huge horns on his helmet — it’s all true to the comics.

In mythology: The trickster god. A shape-shifter and a sorcerer. Loki’s relationship to the other characters in Norse mythology is far more complicated than just the super villain portrayed in the Marvel universe. For example, there isn’t even consensus on whether Loki should be considered a god or a giant. Part of that stems from the ambiguity about the nature of his mother Laufey (yes, Marvel did mess up the gender), who could have been a goddess.

Loki’s behavior encompasses everything from goofy pranks to genuine evil, but in most stories, he is portrayed as — at least nominally — on the side of the gods. That is, until he directly causes the death of Odin’s favorite son Baldr, which sets in motion the events that cause the end of the world, also known as Ragnarok. During the final battles, Loki fights against the gods on the side of the giants along with his three children by the giantess Angrboda: Hel, the goddess of the grave; Jormungand, a sea serpent that encompasses the entire world; and Fenrir, a giant wolf.
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