Loki is one of prominent figures in Norse Mythology where he started off as the ally of the Gods of Asgard before ultimately becomes their worst enemy.
Role in Myths
Loki was born from the Jötunn Fárbauti (ON: "Cruel Striker") and Laufey/Nál (ON: "Needle"). Although he was accepted by the Gods of Asgard as the honorary member of their people, Loki proved himself a troublemaker for being a wily striker. Despite being naturally male, Loki's gender is actually malleable owing to his shapeshifting ability and with his mare form, he is the "mother" of eight-legged, Jötunn-horse hybrid Slepnir with the stallion Svadilfari.
In addition of Slepnir and his parents, Loki's other family members are Angrboða (ON: "Anguish-Boding") (with whom he sired three children Hela the Goddess of Death, Fenrir the Wolf Jötunn, and Jörmungandr the Midgard Serpent), Sigyn (with whom he sired Váli and Narfi and Váli (noted that the latter shares his name with Odin's son through marriage with Jötunn Rindr)).
In his early days among Gods of Asgard, Loki's pranks often brings troubles for his newfound allies. For example, in the tale of The Kidnapping of Idunn, he encited the wrath of the Jötunn Thiazi who then coerced him to bring Idunn for him only to nearly doomed his fellow Gods, since said goddess was the only one who can take care of her special apples which grant them their immortality. In the same tale, he also unwittingly angered Thiazi's daughter Skadi who demanded restitution for her father's death in the same incident (when Loki took Idunn back to Asgard with his falcon form, Thiazi caught them in the act and give chase with his eagle form all while recklessly entering the Gods' territory in Asgard in process, provoking the guards to kill him on the spot). Since Skadi proved herself more reasonable than her father and most of her kin despite her initial vengeful rage, the tension between her and the Gods was resolved without bloodshed.
Another examples of his pranks are annoying Thor through shaving his wife Sif's golden hair clean, interfering dwarf brothers Brokkr and Sindri's progress in crafting the Thunder God's signature hammer Mjölnir (which resulted the hammer's handle being shorter than intended) to win the bet he made with them, and giving a shady Jötunn the chance to get his hands on Freya, sun, and moon should he managed to complete the fortification around Asgard despite his apparent treacherous nature. In the latter's case, Loki was forced to swallow his pride to ensure said Jötunn's failure by distracting his horse Svadilfari and mating with it in process, culminating to the birth of Slepnir. Yet, it all nothing compared to the worst that Loki stored for them.
Powers and Abilities
- Jötunn Physiology: Loki is a Jötunn, a race of transcendent entities and rival race to his former allies Gods of Asgard.
- Shapeshifting: Befitting to his status as the malicious trickster god, Loki is the master shapeshifter who have assumed many forms, such as a salmon, a mare, a fly, and his female alter-ego named Þökk (Old Norse: Thanks). Although this ability enables him to further elude and trick others, sufficiently powerful beings can see through his disguises.
- Gender Transformation: Loki's shapeshifting abilities also enables him to change his gender, be in his natural form or any of his disguises.
- Charisma: Loki displayed impressive charisma which allows him to persuade others to do what he wants, putting up efforts in flyting (insulting contest), and even hides his more sinister intentions so as Gods won't suspect him too much to keep his true allegiance to Jötnar a secret despite toying both sides time and time again. During the Ragnarök, Loki proved himself as a capable leader to his army that comprised of his fellow Jötnar and undead dishonorable warriors.
- Master Tactician: Loki can formulate schemes to get what he wants, from pulling pranks to determine best course or actions in the war. Up until he decided to sever his ties with Gods of Asgard by killing Baldr, he managed to maintain his place among them by undoing damages from his pranks and minimize comeuppances from his actions.
- Supernatural Strength: Though not to the same level as Thor's, Loki nevertheless displayed enough brute force to cause earthquakes with his bare hands, as shown when he tried to break free from his bindings during his fateful imprisonment.
- Fire Manipulation: It's implied that Loki can manipulate fire like Logi, the Eldthur (fire Jötunn) and personification of fire he confused with in some accounts. Assuming it to be the case, it can be inferred that Loki is indeed an Eldthur like the the latter and share same fire-based abilities albeit pale in comparison.
- Immortality: As with his fellow Jötunn, Loki can live forever, though his immortality extends only to immense durability and decelerated ageing since he can be killed by beings with sufficient power, most notably his destined bane Heimdallr.
In Modern Media
Loki is one of the most infamous of the Norse gods and has been described in many films, comics, videogames, and books, as well as traditional lore - his monstrous children are equally famous in the form of the giant wolf-monster Fenrir, the world-serpent Jormungandr and last his own daughter, the Norse goddess of the underworld named Hela (who is the child of the immortal giantess Angrboda, Loki's first wife).
Some of the most famous incarnations of Loki in modern fiction has been the supervillain in Marvel Comics, in which he is basically a slightly updated and toned-down version of the trickster god of folklore and the villainous Loki from the Son of the Mask - who was considerably less like his mythical counterpart and more in line with a run-of-the-mill evil magician/prankster.
Loki has also appeared in the Stargate series - in which he was a rogue Asgardian conducting illegal experiments on humans - this version of Loki is even less like the mythological one than the version in Son of the Mask and is in effect an archetypical alien invader akin to the Greys seen in series such as the X-Files. Other incarnations of Loki and characters inspired by him have appeared in innumerable works of fiction - probably too many to list here, these are just a sample of the few that are aware of by all.
- The Poetic Edda states that Loki became evil by eating a witch's heart, but this fact is never mentioned again in any other works.
- Nyarlathotep, a god-like dark lord from H.P. Lovecraft works, shares some similarities with Loki:
- The two are evil deities;
- Both cares nothing about the rest of their pantheon (although Loki wants to destroy the gods).
- Both are extreme egocentric and arrogant, and wants all the atention focused on themselves.
- Both can shape their forms into anything they wishes and often uses this ability to spread manipulation and mischief.