It’s confession time again.
Up until a few weeks ago, I’d never heard the term “nerfed.” My exasperated co-host explained that nerfing is when writers strip a character of his or her canonical power.
And one name immediately popped into my mind: Loki.
Granted, Loki often pops into my mind for entirely different and NSFW reasons. But in this instance, it’s warranted. Of all the characters in the MCU, Marvel nerfed the God of Mischief harder than any of them.
Loki is one of the most powerful beings in Marvel Comics, with enough tricks up his sleeve to “decimate a planet.” So let’s look at the powers we’ve seen on-screen vs. all the powers Loki should actually have.
Super Strength & Stamina
We’ve seen Loki go toe-to-toe with Thor, mop the floor with Captain America, and gut a bunch of Dark Elves. Many fans would love to see more evidence of his stamina, but fanfic will have to suffice in that department.
In Thor, Loki creates holographic images of himself while battling the Frost Giants. He has some fun with it in The Avengers too, because Thor will never not fall for that. Holographic Loki shows up again in Ragnarok, but the writers play it for laughs.
We only got the briefest glimpse of Loki’s telekinetic abilities in Thor: The Dark World. After his mother’s death, grief, rage, and guilt ravage Loki, and he takes those feelings out on his cozy dungeon bedroom.
In The Dark World, Loki made it look like he’d cut off Thor’s hand and turned traitor, which was key in defeating the Dark Elves. Minutes later, he pulled off the greatest illusion of all: faking his own death. But Loki’s illusory ability has caused trouble because when it comes to the Tesseract, the Trickster just can’t help himself. Loki magically hid the Tesseract after stealing it from Asgard’s vault, which led to the slaughter of the Asgardian people and Loki’s own death at Thanos’s hand.
Again, Marvel’s only given us a fleeting glance at this power. In Thor: Ragnarok, Loki sees Hela’s previous attack on Asgard by linking with Valkyrie’s consciousness. Think Vulcan mind-meld for this one.
Even though it’s Loki’s trademark, he doesn’t shapeshift until his third on-screen appearance in The Dark World. At first, it’s comic relief in a movie that can’t decide whether it wants to be funny or serious.
(Though I can’t complain too much, as I thoroughly enjoy the few moments we spend with America’s Ass.)
But the ending finally did Loki some justice and rewarded fans who sat through that trainwreck of a movie. After faking his death and dispatching Daddy Dearest, Loki shapeshifts into Odin and seizes the throne. Marvel then stretched that storyline into Ragnarok, where Loki has been masquerading as Odin & duping Thor. Again.
From that list, it may seem like Marvel’s been generous with Loki. But Feige and Co. have barely scratched the surface of his abilities.
If Loki had been comic accurate, his faux death scene never would’ve worked. Being impaled is just a flesh wound for a guy who once reattached his own head.
We’re talking force fields, energy blasts, and general high-level wizardry. If Voldemort had his own sitcom, Loki would be his attractive, charming cousin who dropped in and stole Riddle’s girlfriend.
Beyond just moving objects, comic Loki can influence people’s minds through thought projection, telepathy, and intense hypnotism. He can even bring inanimate objects to life and temporarily infuse them with power.
Ohh, the possibilities.
Loki has another ability that all Asgardians in the comics possess: he can speak any language fluently. Word of warning: If Tom Hiddleston speaks another language, particularly French or Italian, on the new show, the internet will break for 24-48 hours.
This power is up there with shapeshifting. Canonically, Loki can teleport without constraints. But, the Avengers never would have caught a guy who could’ve just poofed out of Stark Tower.
A Golden Opportunity
And that brings us to why Marvel neutered Loki throughout the Infinity Saga:
The good guys needed to win.
But the good guys dropped the ball during their space-time adventures, allowing Loki to slip away with the Tesseract…
And land on Disney+ where he’s free to make all kinds of mischief.
The bright side of Loki’s decade of nerfing is that the new series has unlimited potential. Both WandaVision and TFATWS offered stellar writing and character development, and we expect nothing less from Loki. It’s Marvel’s chance to make amends and give the God of Mischief his rightful powers, and the trailer makes us think they will.
Those green blasts of magic? Definitely new.
Some might argue that Marvel has written themselves into a corner regarding Loki’s powers, but the multiple timelines and variants solve that problem.
Who’s to say every version of Loki has the same abilities?
I’ll end the speculation there, for my own sanity if nothing else. We’re still more than three weeks out from the premiere, and if I fall down the rabbit hole now I might be in a coma by June 9.
In the meantime, we’d love to hear your own theories, speculation, and hopes for Loki. And I’ll consider any invitations to join prayer circles seeking to manifest a shirtless scene.